• Principal Berkowitz

Term 1 Reflections and Celebrations

And with that, we are a week into our 2nd term of virtual learning! With last week’s transition, at school and nationwide, I didn’t take the chance to share my reflections on our first term together. There are so many examples of how our staff, students, and parents have shown how we are here for our students and practicing the values of equity, empathy, purpose, joy, and perseverance.

At a high level, this first term has been all learning. Learning how to change, adapt, connect, survive and hopefully thrive. The list of changes we have endured is long and serves as a reminder of our collective ability to learn, adapt, and demonstrate the values of our leadership team. Here are a few that come to mind as we enter the second term.

  • We learned how to learn at home. We navigated Teams, the waiting room; learned Canvas, new asynchronous learning platforms, Notebook, SeeSaw and so much more. The scope of what we’ve learned and the effort and purpose it’s taken to learn cannot be understated.

  • Students and teachers learned to adapt and so has our custodial teams. Keep in mind that Peabody’s team has joined with Watkins’ to support the reopening at Watkins. Foreman Starkey (Watkins) has welcomed the expertise of Foreman Hooker (Peabody) and they, along with DSL Montgomery, have merged two teams in a completely harmonious way. During one of our equity sessions, a member of the custodial team made this comparison when we discussed culture: “it’s like going over to my cousins house. Yeah, it’s their house, but we’re still family.”

  • We learned new ways to connect. Our parents have formed a Welcoming Team to support new families transitioning into the Cluster. In our equity sessions with staff, we’ve spent time intentionally building relationships through cross-cultural conversations. Students, parents, and teachers are posting and corresponding on Canvas, SeeSaw, and other platforms for the first time. Together, we are persevering through the distance barrier to maintain and strengthen our connections.

  • For me, the Books and Belonging with Berkowitz class has been a huge source of joy. Collaborating with Ms. Jurkowski and Ms. Bloom has affirmed the power that a great story has to enable connections with students. One week, we read Brave by Stacy McAnulty. In our discussion one student made a comment about his mother to this effect: “my mom’s a pharmacist and she’s working extra during Coronavirus. So, when she gets home, I give her extra hugs.” I nearly melted. I’m also reminded how this pandemic effects everyone but does so differently.

  • Our staff and parents have also gone to great lengths that certainly demonstrates our sense of purpose and also empathy. Our Mental Health team is supporting parents and students in completely unique ways during and after school hours. Our Special Educators have developed student specific, Individualized Distance Learning Plans to ensure students with IEPs also have access to virtual learning. What happens every day is also important: our teachers patiently adapt, without judgement, to the digital barriers and frustrations parents have shared with this new world. For the first time, teachers’ practice is fully transparent to parents, and understandably, parents have had some tough questions for teachers. Each time, our teachers have responded with a focus on our students while showing the grace we all need to work together through these tough times.

When I look back at our first term together, I see a theme of perseverance in order to make our student experience more equitable. I hope you share my pride in these stories and your own. We’ve all done something that hasn’t been done before. And as tired as we may be, I hope that some reflection on the achievement energizes us for an even better second term.



First Ever Cluster Cup is Now Live!

A community wide scavenger hunt that can be done using any smart phone. Which families will take home the many prizes! See here for more details.

A Look Forward: Upcoming Dates

  • Tuesday, Nov. 17: Term 1 Report Cards Mailed (for K-5 Students whose parent/ guardian has not opted into the ASPEN Parent Portal. More info below.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 25- Friday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Break- No school for students

CARES Classes: Staff and Student Selections

Please visit the DCPS reopen strong website for information on the CARES Classes. Note that staffing has not been confirmed, but students who remain virtual will maintain the same teacher.

ASPEN Parent Portal for K-5 Students & Report Card Mailing

Reminder that this month, DCPS is launching the Parent Portal feature in Aspen. Starting with Term 1, the Portal allows for parents/ guardians to view student attendance and receive published report cards.  

Term 1 report cards are scheduled to be mailed on Tues. Nov. 17th.  Parents/ guardians who have opted into the Portal will not receive a physical report in the mail, but will receive instructions for how to view your child’s report card electronically. Please be on the lookout for a welcoming email from Aspen that will include user guides and video links to access your account. 



Log Into Canvas Daily, Including Wednesday

Families should log into Canvas every day, including Wednesday to be marked present. It is very important to note that although live instruction does not take place on Wednesday, students still need to log-in. Daily log-in should take place between 6am and 11:59pm. If you miss a day or something prevents you from logging on, email our attendance team.



Submitting excuse notes: During virtual learning, all excuses notes should be emailed to our attendance teams. All DCPS legal excuse reasons remain the same as last school year.



Immunizations and Required Health Forms

All students must be up to date on their immunizations before returning to in person learning. Follow these three steps to guarantee that your child is ready and see the below flier for more information:

  • Schedule your child's annual wellness visit

  • Make sure your child has received all of their immunizations

  • Submit immunization documents to your child's enrollment/ attendance team

Community Questions and Answers: Please continue to submit questions using this form.

Overall updates can be found on this part of our website. You can keep up to date on the great progress of our Operations Team on our Instagram page. Shout out to our amazing Custodial Teams who are working so hard to prepare our building.


Community Messages

Click on the following to link to our website pages for updates on the following community groups:

Parent Teacher Association

Race, Class, and Equity Group

Local School Advisory Team (LSAT)

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