Honoring Our Principals—This Month and Beyond


This message was shared with DCPS families and staff on October 25, 2023.

Dear DC Public Schools Community,

In education, October is a month to celebrate so many special things. One that really stands out to me is the opportunity to recognize our school principals. Happy National Principals Month to our fearless DC Public Schools (DCPS) leaders who exemplify what excellence looks like across 117 schools!

School principals set the tone for their school—serving as mentors and advisors for their staff, role models for our students, and partners with families in their child’s educational journey. In a city as diverse as our nation’s capital, our principals champion equity and celebrate the many backgrounds that make up their school communities. As a former principal, I appreciate the hard work to ensure that every student’s unique needs are met. 

Mayor Bowser refers to principals as “mini mayors,” and I am reminded every day of DCPS leaders’ commitment to the future of our city. Earlier this month, I connected with the team during Leadership Academy—DCPS’ professional development training for school principals. The energy in the room was electric as principals exchanged best practices, celebrated student achievement, and discussed ways to tackle challenges as a collective village.

Thank you to our school leaders for making a difference in the lives of those they serve. 

Continue reading to learn who was selected as DC’s 2024 Teacher of the Year, how our schools observed Hispanic Heritage Month, where our 6th Grade Academy students went to experience fun and community, and much more!

Today’s word count – 1,405 words, a 10-minute read.

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

Mayor Bowser Names 2024 DC Teacher of the Year 🍎

Mayor Bowser, Chancellor Ferebee, and State Superintendent Grant recently named the DC 2024 Teacher of the Year: Cardozo Education Campus’ Ms. Beth Barkley. “Ms. Barkley currently works with 9th and 10th grade students new to the US and teaches a course on human rights and social action,” explained Mayor Muriel Bowser. “In all her classes, she creates a learning space where students can feel seen and loved, and where they are at home in their school community.” Congratulations again, Ms. Barkley!

EmpowerK12 Recognizes DCPS Bold Performance Schools 🏅

Using performance data from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), EmpowerK12 recognizes schools that most effectively support students furthest from opportunity. We applaud DCPS’ awardees for boldly cultivating joyful learning environments and providing students with the supports they need to thrive:

  • Burroughs Elementary School
  • Garrison Elementary School
  • Langdon Elementary School
  • Payne Elementary School
  • Whittier Elementary School

Schools Honor Hispanic Heritage Month by Learning 🌎

DCPS students spent the last month exploring the rich history of the Latino community through hands-on learning, enrichment experiences, and community events. Roosevelt High School hosted a school-wide activity featuring food prepared by Career and Technical Education (CTE) Culinary Arts student-chefs and poster presentations by the Latin American Studies class. At Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School, scholars learned about renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera while Jackson-Reed High School opened its doors to families for a “Noche Latino” with food and information.

6th Grade Academy Talks Hoops and Hopes for the Future 💼

As part of the 6th Grade Academy initiative—which supports a strong transition into middle school with specialized supports and signature learning experiences that encourage attendance, academic success, and sense of belonging—more than 700 scholars met with Monumental Sports basketball staff and DCPS Chancellor Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee to discuss careers in sports and cheer on the Washington Wizards during open practice just for students.

“In college, I was set on being a biologist. But then I volunteered at a school and taught a child to read, and it changed my life’s trajectory … Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and take risks.”

—Chancellor Ferebee

Israel-Hamas War: Resources for DCPS Educators 💭

DCPS recognizes the effects of the most recent conflicts in the Middle East on students, families, and staff. Our academic teams have compiled resources for educators to facilitate open, inclusive, and constructive conversations in which students feel safe, respected, and heard—regardless of their background or perspective. At the same time, the district’s mental health and wellness teams are available to provide culturally responsive supports for any student feeling the weight of the world’s issues. Our thoughts are with all impacted members of our community and their loved ones.

#ThankAPrincipal 💙

Help celebrate our school leaders this month by sending them a friendly email or handwritten card. We began National Principals Month by highlighting two leaders championing inclusivity: River Terrace Education Campus Principal Dr. Aimee Cepeda and Tubman Elementary School Principal Amanda Delabar. Follow DCPS on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more spotlights.

New This Year: Two EdFEST(s) Dates 📅

EdFEST, the District’s annual public-school fair, will return in-person this year! To accommodate families with a more personal experience, My School DC will take a new approach and host two events*:

  • Grades PK3 – 8: Saturday, December 2, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Stadium Armory;
  • Grades 9 – 12: Saturday, December 9, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Eastern High School.

More information and links to register will be available soon.

*Please note the change in dates and grade bands from the printed and digital versions of the DCPS Calendar.

Digital Citizenship and Online Safety Tips 💻

While social media and technology offer students new opportunities, they can also amplify the typical stresses of growing up. Families can help their children develop strong digital citizenship skills and stay safe online by taking the steps below.

  • Make screen time social with young scholars by watching or playing together.
  • Talk with your student about the difference between personal and public information.
  • Together, explore the features on their devices and in their apps that can help them use technology more intentionally.
  • Visit the DCPS Digital Citizenship Family Portal for more tips!

Save the Date! Safe Halloween Events Across DC 🎃

Join a fun and spooky Halloween event hosted by the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on Tuesday, October 31! Every year, MPD hosts free activities across the District for families and youth of all ages, including trick-or-treating, story time, haunted houses, harvest festivals, and more. View this flyer for times and locations.

DCPS Forever Spotlight 💙

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

Ms. Anyanwu stands outside her alma mater, Jackson-Reed High School.  

October’s DCPS Forever calendar spotlight is Ijeoma Anyanwu, a Jackson-Reed High School alumna who now serves as DCPS’ Deputy Chief of Data. “In education, we’re always thinking about how we can innovate, but we want to hold onto what’s working, too. Data helps us do both. It helps us identify what’s working, and what we can do differently to improve.”

DCPS Happenings 📰

  • Mayor Bowser Surprises DC Teacher of the Year 🍎: Cardozo Education Campus’ Ms. Barkley wins citywide recognition for her work with newcomers. Watch on FOX5.
  • Student-Journalists Interview Local Reporter 🎤Eliot Hine Middle School hosted WJLA’s long-time DC bureau chief Sam Ford for an in-studio interview. Watch on YouTube.
  • DCPS Gets $1 Million to Expand Mental Health Services 💭: DCPS receives new DC grant funding to support student mental health services. Read at WHUR.com.
  • Finding Purpose in Planting 🌱: Anacostia High School students discover environmental justice, explore new career pathways, and unlock passions. Read at the Washington Post.
  • Student-Reporter Has the Magic Touch 🏀: Jordan Williams, a Bard High School Early College DC student, secures a scholarship from NBA legend Magic Johnson. Watch on NBC4.

Top Social Posts ❤️

National Custodian Day shines the spotlight on Brent Elementary School Foreman Mr. Lawrence and Roosevelt High School Forewoman Ms. Smith!

WNBA Legend Sheryl Swoopes cuts the ribbon on Johnson Middle School’s newly renovated wellness rooms.

Ketcham Elementary School celebrates Grandparents’ Day with hand dancing and dinner.

Dunbar High School’s Law and Public Policy Academy gets a glimpse into law school from Howard University law students.

Important Upcoming Dates 📆

  • November 3: End of Term 1 (No school for students)
  • November 10: Veterans Day (DCPS closed)
  • November 22 – 24: Thanksgiving Break (No school for students)
  • November 23: Thanksgiving (DCPS closed)
  • December 1: 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application opens
  • December 2: EdFEST (Grades PK3 – 8), 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • December 9: EdFEST (Grades 9 – 12), 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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