Eliot-Hine International Faire: Bringing the World to Capitol Hill

Eliot-Hine hosted a vibrant International Faire on Friday, June 2 open to the community. This event aimed to present students with a global perspective and share more about their new International Baccalaureate framework. There were fun activities such as temporary henna tattoos, Chinese calligraphy, and Arabic script writing. There were also stations featuring fun books and apps focusing on other countries and cultures like Tutu’s storybooks and an Argentinian tango demonstration. Students and families also learned about programs within Eliot-Hine that pushes a global perspective, such as the Model UN program and the DC Global Education’s Embassy Adoption Program. Thank you for such a beautiful event!

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Jump-start June with Eliot-Hine’s International Faire: Fri., 6/2 at 5 PM

Eliot-Hine MS 2017 International Faire Flyer

This family-friendly and educational event is next Friday, June 2nd. Join us for a very fun night of cultural dance performances, play games from other countries, get a henna tattoo, taste delicious international cuisine, and more. All are invited to join us!

Any questions can be directed to eliothinepto@gmail.com.

Eliot-Hine MS is located at 1830 Constitution Ave. NE, Washington DC, 20002. The closest metro stop is Stadium-Armory and street parking is available.

Principal Vargas Q & A: Her passions and vision to broaden Eliot-Hine’s horizons.

isamar-vargas  Isamar Vargas is the new principal of Eliot-Hine this school year.A native of Puerto Rico, she is bilingual in English and Spanish. Prior to joining DCPS, she was the principal of Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, a school in Chicago that serves approximately 1,100 preK-8 students, including 400 English-Language Learners. In 2010, she began the New Leaders principal preparation program and in 2011 was granted the Principal Achievement Award in Chicago Public Schools for her efforts to close the achievement gap. Vargas has also worked as a bilingual elementary school teacher and taught social science to students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico and her master’s degree in school leadership from Concordia University in Chicago.

Check out her interview with the Strategic School Planning Team below:

  • What experiences led you to where you are in education today? “My mother was a social worker in Puerto Rico and inspired me to help those in need. Serving communities and seeing an interest for students’ needs, as well as the urgency in helping children of color has brought me to where I am today.”
  • Tell us a little about what you’re most passionate about. “I’m passionate about the socio-emotional aspect of education. It is not just about the subject areas, but also how students manage their emotions to be a successful and responsible citizen in and outside of school. Empowering them to overcome whatever they come from is what I’m passionate about.”
  • Previously you were a principal in Chicago. What are you most excited about as the new principal of Eliot-Hine with DCPS? “This is a transformative time for Eliot-Hine! We are actively engaging with different communities, both our community of current students/families and feeders and more broadly the Capitol Hill community. We are both learning from each other and that’s exciting.”
  • This is Eliot-Hine’s first full year as an IB MS. How does this IB program shape your vision for Eliot-Hine and its future? “IB is a smart teaching. You cannot teach subjects in isolation. With the IB requirements, we reinforce teachers are collaborating and what they learn in one class is transferrable to another subject. Connections to the outside world, all qualities of this IB program help prepare our students for the 21st century.”
  • In 2018, construction for Eliot-Hine’s $87.7 million modernization will begin. How will the new facilities support your IB MYP and vision? “We want to make sure the building reflects what it is to be a global thinker. This will include spaces to co-teach and other areas to engage in comfortable conversations about social issues. This building will also represent the world to our students and where they will learn more about their outside community. We hope this new facility infuses the issues and excitement of our global society into our learning and daily lives.”
  • What will be different about Eliot-Hine in school year 17-18? “We have done a lot of work with climate and culture along with differentiation in the classroom. We will continue to shape the school climate and culture to embrace the diversity of our students, while maintaining the emphasis of socio-emotion development and rigor.”
  • Are there specific things you want to implement at Eliot-Hine in the coming years? “One of my goals is to continue to increase enrollment so I can offer a second foreign language. Currently we offer Spanish to all our students. As one of the only two DCPS middle schools with an IB program, we aim to increase the world languages offered.”
  • What is something most people do not know about Eliot-Hine? “They care a lot about their environment and love coming to Eliot-Hine. This explains our high attendance rate! Our students are so loving and invested in their personal growth. They are typical teenagers, but also in tune with their emotions and learn quickly about how to be a successful teenager. It is so empowering to see them grow and become better at what they do.”
  • How would you describe Eliot-Hine in one word?: Pioneer!
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Principal Vargas and parent Amy Weedon at EdFest 2016!

Dual Language Planning Updates

Our DL engagement process is ongoing. Want to connect for an update or to share your thoughts? Contact DCPS.Planning@dc.gov or (202) 821-6557.

Background

This school year, DCPS opened three new Dual Language programs at Houston ES, MacFarland MS, and Roosevelt HS, bringing the total number of English/Spanish programs  in DCPS to 11. Through all our work engaging school communities over the past two years around dual language, we’ve heard demand from parents across the city for more language programming in DCPS. Some parents want more English/Spanish programs, some want a more equitable spread of programs across the city, others want to see new languages like Mandarin, French, or Arabic introduced.

dl-map

Map of DCPS Dual Language Programs.

In the past, DCPS has generally opened new Dual Language (DL) programs one at a time, addressing needs and demand from school communities as they come. As you may notice in the map above, there is now a strong concentration of DL programs in Wards 1 and 4, an area there is also a high concentration of native Spanish speakers.

While opening in this cluster helps programs enroll a mix of native Spanish and native English speakers, it makes equity of access across the city difficult. Looking at the map above, if you’re a student in Ward 8 or 5 you’re looking at a lengthy commute if you’re able to get into a DL program. Having programs clustered in Columbia Heights / Petworth also makes it challenging to offer convenient feeder patterns for schools outside that hub.

Process

Our goal through this process is to engage a wide range of stakeholders across the city and develop a multi-year plan for dual language going forward. In particular, we want to address equity of access and complete feeder patterns (referenced above). We’re talking with parents who have kids in DL, parents who don’t, school leaders, staff, dual language experts, and community members and asking:

  • What’s going well with dual language now? What do you like about it or find appealing?
  • What do you want to see change going forward?
  • How do you think DCPS should expand dual language?

What we’ve done

  • One on one meetings or phone calls with 30 different parents and community members.
  • Larger community meetings at Takoma EC, Marie Reed ES, the Ward 5 Council on Education, Tubman ES, and the Ward 4 Education Alliance.
  • Conversations with dual language leaders and staff members at Oyster Adams, Tyler ES, CHEC, Powell, and Bancroft.
  • Looked at preliminary data on English Language Learner (ELL) and non-ELL performance in our dual language programs.
  • Spoke with a range of dual language researchers and other school districts and states across the country with successful DL programs.

What we’ve heard

  • Parents are interested in ways for their kids to learn another language. Many are excited about dual language specifically, but many are also open to alternative ways for students to learn a second language. This could include more intensive language study, or after school and summer programs.
  • Dual Language school leaders are bought into and excited about dual language, and want it to be available to more students across the city.
  • While parents are excited about language, there are reservations about adopting the program at their school because of what it would mean for the school culture and staff. Moving to DL often implies significant staff turnover to get the right number of bilingual educators.
  • Parents and staff want clear, logical feeder patterns so students can progress in dual language from elementary to middle to high school.
  • Parents, staff, and community members want students across the city to be able to access dual language programming more easily. They’ve pointed out the lack of DCPS programs in Wards 5 and 8 specifically.
  • Concerns about strand programs vs. whole school models. Some parents and community members feel strand programs can create divisions within one school community, while others feel it’s important to offer the option of a non-DL program in their neighborhood school.

Meeting Schedule

Interested in talking with us or want to schedule a larger meeting at your school community? You can always reach us at DCPS.Planning@dc.gov or (202) 821-6557, or feel free to join us at an upcoming meeting:

  • Oyster Adams Bilingual School (2801 Calvert St. NW) at 9am Friday, 11/4
  • Ward 8 Education Council house meeting – Monday, November 28th (Location TBD)
  • Miner Elementary School PTO – Monday, 12/5 at 6pm
  • Ward 7 Education Council (TBD)