Celebrations Across the District


This message was shared with DCPS families and staff on February 5, 2024.

Dear DC Public Schools (DCPS) Community, 

The commitment of our educators and staff is something I admire greatly. And what I have seen so far in 2024 is a testament to our district’s ability to come together with our families and community to build a bold and bright vision for the future of DCPS. 

Last month, I had the honor of participating in Watkins Elementary School’s annual celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A tradition spanning two decades, our young scholars reciting Dr. King’s words was a powerful reminder of the charge we all share to move the needle closer every year for students of all backgrounds to succeed.

A few days later, Dr. King’s dream was on my mind as we launched DCPS’ new strategic plan. Shaped by many of the DCPS scholars and alumni who joined us that evening, Capital Commitment 2023-2028 puts equity at the center of our work. Celebrating with the students who lent their voices to our next five years is something I will always remember and cherish. 

I’m proud to see our community empower students’ participation in unique experiences that set them up for future success. Keep on reading to learn who won at this year’s Standing Ovation Awards ceremony, how dance can unlock passion and self-expression, and what stories can do to preserve and celebrate culture. 

Today’s word count – 1,302 words, an 11-minute read.

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

Recognizing Excellence 🏆

Last week, DCPS celebrated outstanding teachers, leaders, and schools at Standing Ovation, the DC Ed Fund’s annual awards ceremony. Recognized for their exemplary impact on education, these awardees represent a fraction of the incredible work happening across DCPS.

Let’s congratulate all the 2023 Standing Ovation finalists and awardees

  • Educator of the Year: Dr. NiLa Austin, School-Wide Enrichment Teacher, Ida B. Wells Middle School 
  • School Staff of the Year: Cristina Restrepo-Harner, Program Coordinator and Behavior Analyst, Shirley Chisholm Elementary School (formerly Tyler Elementary School
  • School Leader of the Year: Dr. Kristie Edwards, Principal, Randle-Highlands Elementary School 
  • Outstanding Central Services Leader of the Year: Dr. Jacqueline A. Blackwell-Speight, Manager of Emergency Planning & Guidance, Office of the Chief Operating Office 
  • School Improvement Award: Eliot-Hine Middle School 
  • M. Shanita Burney Family Engagement Award: Turner Elementary School

“The future of DCPS is bright. Our educators are not just sharing knowledge … but serving as mentors and cultivators of curiosity, preparing our children for a future that is full of possibility.”
—Mayor Muriel Bowser

Delving into Dance & Identity 🎶

More than 80 scholars from nine DCPS schools explored the theme of identity while learning from local artists specializing in Hip Hop, West African, House, and Native American Powwow and Hoop Dance during the DCPS Dance Festival. Chancellor Ferebee presented six students with scholarships provided by the Elements Urban Arts Collective to continue their dance education with the Joy of Motion Dance Center:

  • Shannon C., 10th grader at School Without Walls High School 
  • Sophia L., 5th grader at Langdon Elementary School 
  • Princess M., 3rd grader at Whittier Elementary School  
  • Imani Faith N., 11th grader at School Without Walls High School 
  • Charles O., 5th grader at Langdon Elementary School 
  • Rico P., 3rd grader at Barnard Elementary School 

Exploring African Culture through Storytelling 🕷️

Students at Shepherd Elementary School welcomed author Ada Ari for a day of cultural exchange and storytelling. Through interactive sessions, scholars learned about and celebrated African history, games, geography, dance, music, and stories—one of which reimagines a prolific West African tale of Anansi the spider.

Apply by March 1 for PK3 – 8! 🏫

The deadline to complete the My School DC Lottery Application for grades PK3 – 8 for School Year 2024-2025 is Friday, March 1. For more information about the lottery, visit myschooldc.org

Calling for Secondary Grading Policy Feedback 📝

The grading process helps students advance their learning, allows teachers to give feedback, and documents a student’s growth over time. DCPS wants to hear from students, families, and educators to help shape the new secondary grading policy. Complete the feedback survey by Friday, February 9 in EnglishSpanish, or Amharic.

Join the Holistic Academic Co-Design Series 📖

DCPS’ Office of Teaching and Learning will host a series of engagement sessions to hear from families, students, and stakeholders about how DCPS can further integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) and academics. Participants will learn about the DCPS Holistic Academic Model and share input. Complete this interest form to learn more. 

ICYMI: DCPS Launches Strategic Plan 🚀

Last month, DCPS unveiled Capital Commitment 2023-2028, our new five-year strategic plan that lays out our roadmap to achievement. “I am confident that with feedback and engagement from all our stakeholders, DCPS has landed on the right priorities,” said Mayor Bowser. 

National School Counseling Week 💡

DCPS’ 160 school counselors work with elementary, middle, and high school students across the district. Counselors help scholars dream big, succeed in school, and plan for a career. Celebrate these vital members of our community during National School Counseling Week, February 5-9. Follow us on XInstagram, and Facebook!

DCPS Forever Spotlights 📅

School Year 2023-2024 calendars are available for pickup at your school. The calendar includes stories from students, staff, parents, families, and alumni who embody this year’s theme: DCPS Forever.

Ms. Shuk-Kuen and one of her math students.

You may have already flipped your calendar, but we want to celebrate our January calendar feature, Columbia Heights Education Campus alumna and teacher, Ms. Shuk-Kuen Chiu. When she was 14 years old, Ms. Chiu immigrated from Hong Kong to DC. “Our school has a large immigrant population, and I grew up in this same community. So, parents see me as someone they can connect with.”

February features Ms. Alease Jackson and Mr. Marsten Davis, both from Ballou STAY High School. Read more below! 

Mr. Davis and Ms. Jackson take a quick break during Cosmetology and Barbering class.

For Ms. Jackson and Mr. Davis, Southeast DC natives and alumni of Ballou High School and H.D. Woodson High School, respectively, teaching Cosmetology and Barbering not only provides valuable career pathways for students—it also allows scholars to develop their creative side. “You wouldn’t be in a field like this if you didn’t have an artistic edge,” shared Ms. Jackson. “DCPS is really trying to touch all points of the whole child in different forms, and I think it’s perfect.”

DCPS Happenings 📰

  • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi Meets with Students 📕: Dr. Kendi discussed his writing journey and book, Barracoon, at Jefferson Middle School Academy. Read at Washington Informer
  • Creating Calm in District Schools 🧘: Yoga and mindfulness have the ability to calm, deescalate, and empower learners. Read at HillRag
  • Honoring Dr. King 🏛️: For 20 years, Watkins Elementary School students have recited “I Have a Dream” at the Lincoln Memorial. Watch on NBCWashington
  • DCPS Hosts Dance Festival 🎶: Students of all ages explored dance and identity with local artists. Listen on WTOP
  • New Hospitality Partnership with Washington Nationals ⚾️: NatsPrep allows students to explore sports hospitality through mentorship, skill development, and knowledge sharing. Read at ABC7

Top Social Posts ❤️

Banneker High School and School Without Walls High School student representatives join the launch of our five-year strategic plan, Capital Commitment 2023-2028.

Ballou High School Career Academy scholars visit the Washington Auto Show for Career Day. 

Students at Noyes Elementary School engage in hands-on math activities during Math Night!

Honor Roll scholars at Alice Deal Middle School enjoyed an ice cream social to celebrate earning all A’s!

Ron Brown College Preparatory High School Young Kings talk audio/visual production and showcase their learnings.

Smothers Elementary School scholars learn how to ski at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania! 

Important Upcoming Dates 📆

  • February 1 – 29: Black History Month 
  • February 1 – 29: Career and Technical Education Month 
  • February 5 – 9: National School Counseling Week 
  • February 9: Secondary Grading Policy Survey closes 
  • February 14: Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday 
  • February 16: Professional Development Day for Staff (No school for students) 
  • February 19: President’s Day (No school for students, DCPS closed) 
  • Late February: Reports cards mailed home 
  • March 1: My School DC Lottery Application Deadline (Grades PK3 – 8)

View the full DCPS School Year 2023-2024 Calendar online.