Public Education Ombudsman Serena Hayes (Courtesy of SBOE)
Public Education Ombudsman Serena Hayes (Courtesy of SBOE)

After an extensive search process, the State Board of Education recently announced the selection of Serena Hayes as the next District of Columbia Ombudsman for Public Education.

Hayes, who succeeds Joyanna Smith, is the third person ever to serve in the position.

The ombudsman position, originally established as a critical component of the Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007, was reestablished as part of the State Board in 2014.

Teacher Reflections

“As an IB reading teacher of color, I am aware of the intersectionality that my students experience daily. Every student has a story, and every student wants to read a story they can identify with. Students love seeing themselves in the literature we read, and it is my goal to provide a wide variety of diverse literature in my classroom library. I want my students to know they are readers, their stories matter, and that they are not alone in this journey of life.” — Toni Rose Deanon, sixth-grade ELA-L Teacher and seventh-grade level lead, DC International School

Harley Loves His School

“I love my school!”

These words spilled out of fourth-grader Harley Mitchell, who attends Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys Public Charter School.

Harley says that the difference between Statesmen and his previous school is the staff, as more than 75 percent of the teachers and leaders at Statesmen are Black males.

Harley says he “feels supported every day and know[s] that [the staff] will not give up on [him].”

At Statesmen, there is also an emphasis on learning African-American history.

“Learning math, STEM and English is great, but I really love learning my own history in our Kings 101 class,” Harley said. “I learned about Mansa Musa, who was one of the richest people in the world and had so much money he actually caused inflation. That’s amazing to me!”

Teacher of the Year Finalist

Kelly Harper, D.C.’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, is among four educators in the running for the nation’s top teaching honor.

The last time a D.C. teacher was in the running for the national honor was in 2005, when Jason Kamras (now superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia), who went on to serve in leadership roles at D.C. Public Schools, was named National Teacher of the Year.

“Ms. Harper is an inspiration to her students, a leader in her school community, and we are proud to have her representing Washington, DC and teachers nationwide,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “It is clear that Ms. Harper is dedicated to her students, families and colleagues and this national recognition is very well-deserved.”

Harper, a third-grade teacher at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, is in her seventh year as an educator. She inspires her students through social justice and advocacy projects and serves as a leader at the school and district levels. Harper launched her career in Houston as a Teach for America corps member.

In Houston, Harper led her students to significant gains and was the 2014 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award Houston finalist and national nominee.

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