Celebrating Teachers, Partners, & Mental Health Awareness Month


This message was shared with DCPS families and staff on May 24, 2023.

Dear DCPS Community, 
May is always an exciting time for DC Public Schools (DCPS). Earlier this month, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week to honor the best educators in the country. 

At DCPS, teachers are integral members of their school communities, serving as the foundation of its success. Their contributions are a testament to how our district fulfills its vision of making certain that “every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life.” 

I am proud to see how our schools paid tribute to our educators. The level of creativity showcased was awe-inspiring, from Coolidge HS’ “spa experience”  to “Hip Hop Hooray” week at Sousa MS and the “Panther Zen Den” at Johnson MS. I am grateful for the work our teachers pour into our students and school communities, day in and day out. My sincerest thanks to all teachers for all you do. 

As we approach the end of the school year, please take a few minutes to review important updates, inspiring stories, favorite media moments, and upcoming events.

Today’s word count – 1200 words, a 6-minute read. 

In partnership,      
Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.      
Chancellor, DC Public Schools

Mayor Bowser Sets the Record Straight About Washington, DC  🏛️ 

Last week, Mayor Bowser appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability as federal lawmakers continue to debate the District’s revised criminal code. Included in her remarks was a powerful defense of the progress in our public schools:

“In recent years, we’ve expanded access to early learning opportunities and reimagining the high school experience. We continue to attract and retain world-class educators. Today, our public school enrollment is the highest since the 2007 reform era began. We were also the only public school district in the region to grow our enrollment from pre-pandemic levels this school year.” 

– Mayor Muriel Bowser

Watch the full testimony on Twitter

Seven DCPS High School Students Earn Scuba Certification 🤿 

Students from Dunbar and Roosevelt High Schools received their scuba certification in a ceremony attended by Chancellor Ferebee, school leaders, and families. After a year of training, the students mastered over 25 skills and completed a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water test in Key Largo, Florida.   

Honoring DCPS Partners 🤝 

Last week, Central Office and schools celebrated Partner Appreciation Week to honor the hundreds of community organizations that enrich our students’ lives. Here are just some of the ways partnerships are leveraged to further our mission of providing rigorous, joyful, and nurturing learning. 

  • Dozens of local businesses collaborate with the DCPS Transition team to connect students with mentors and paid internships. 
  • Partners double DCPS’ full-time afterschool program capacity. 
  • Partners cultivate resilience in children experiencing housing insecurity through play and mentorship.   
  • Hundreds of university students serve in schools as tutors or Jumpstart AmeriCorps members. 

We are grateful for our DCPS Partner community and thank all our partners for their tireless support of our schools and students.

Oyster-Adams Student is DC’s “Doodle for Google” State Winner! 🏆 

Thousands of students across the country entered the Doodle for Google contest, and Oyster-Adams fifth grader Annika Piñol is the lucky winner for Washington, DC. Help us make her the national champion by voting for her drawing. 

With your vote, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School could win $50,000 in technology, and Annika could win a scholarship and the opportunity to showcase her art to the world.

“Literature is a universe I can explore and see things in my mind’s eye that I’ve never dreamed of,” she says. “Books are my home in my hands.” 

“More Than Enough:” May is Mental Health Awareness Month 🧠 

Mental health is an essential aspect of overall health, and it is vital to maintain it. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental well-being and reduce surrounding stigmas.

The DCPS School Mental Health division just launched a new website to help staff and families navigate student supports and provide must-read resources, including “Fun Activities to Stay Mentally Healthy During Mental Health Awareness Month,” “Overcoming Test Anxiety,” and much more.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee visited Ballou HS last Thursday to meet with the Knights of Purpose, a student empowerment group for Black male youth. The students met in the “Peace Room,” a room that provides resources, mentors, and an open-door policy for faculty to offer support as issues arise. 

Beyond Ballou, schools are doing phenomenal work to center conversations about mental health and self-care. Boone ES hosted a yoga workshop and smoothie demonstration. At Eliot-Hine MS, student Mental Health Ambassadors hosted a school-wide community meeting and shared resources with their peers. Cardozo EC hosted a panel with student mental health advocates to share their lived experiences with school staff and DCPS administrators.

How is your school community observing Mental Health Awareness Month?

Share Your Thoughts on Boundary Study for Schools 🗣️ 

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) welcomes the input of all families, school communities, and residents on what principles should guide the decision-making of the Advisory Committee of the Boundary and Student Assignment Study. The Advisory Committee will submit final recommendations to Mayor Bowser in winter 2023-2024. Please complete this survey by Monday, May 29, 2023

Save the Date: Afterschool Program Registration Opens June 6 🎒 

For School Year 2023-2024, afterschool programs managed by the DCPS Out of School Time Programs (OSTP) will be offered at 55 schools. Beginning June 6, families can access the registration portal from their phone, computer, or tablet. Visit dcps.dc.gov/afterschool to learn more.

DCPS Happenings 📰

  • Calling all artists: Mayor Bowser announced 53 commissions available for DC-area artists to enhance DCPS schools. Apply by Monday, May 29. View on Twitter.  
  • DCPS students rise to the challenge! 3,896 students took at least one AP exam this year, up from 2,853 in School Year 2021-2022. This 37% increase is a testament to the hard work and dedication of DCPS students, teachers, and administrators. View on Twitter. View on Twitter. 
  • Chancellor Ferebee visited Malcolm X ES for Partner Appreciation Week to observe afterschool programming with Kid Power, Girls on the Run, Greater Washington Field of Dreams, and FRESHFARM Food Prints. View on Twitter  
  • Over 200 students participated in “DCPS Goes to College” workshops at the MLK Memorial Library on May 16th and 17th. The workshops featured mock interviews, guest speakers, and networking opportunities with college students. Visit DCPS Goes to College.   
  • Like a boss: Last month, the “Ballou Marketplace” raised $9,500 for over 20 student-run businesses. Ballou’s student businesses launched their first-ever Market Day as a part of their redesign model. View on Instagram.   
  • To kick off Teacher Appreciation Week, Mayor Bowser hosted a lunch with veteran teachers at the downtown restaurant Jaleo by José Andrés. “Our families trust our public schools because they know and trust our teachers,” she said. View on ABC 7. 

Important Upcoming Dates 📆

  • May 29: Memorial Day (DCPS closed)  
  • June 18: Father’s Day 
  • June 19: Juneteenth (DCPS closed) 
  • June 22: Last day of school for students
  • June 23: End of Term 4 Records Day / Professional Development Day