Monument Academy PCS English language arts teacher Charles Williams teaches his students to reach heights they never believed were attainable. (Courtesy of Monument Academy PCS)
Monument Academy PCS English language arts teacher Charles Williams teaches his students to reach heights they never believed were attainable. (Courtesy of Monument Academy PCS)

New to Monument Academy Public Charter School is a weekday boarding school that serves students in grades 5 – 8. Seventh-grade English language arts teacher Charles Williams not only meets students where they are, he teaches them to reach heights they never believed were attainable due to their surroundings or previous life experiences.

As a lifelong DC resident, Williams is aware of the struggles that youth in the District may face.

“This population is dear to my heart, as I am the first male in my family to not go to jail … the first in my family to go to college and attain a higher education,” Williams said. “Your geographical ward does not determine your lifetime reward.”

Williams’ educational philosophy is felt upon entering his space.

“Mr. Williams makes me feel like I matter,” said Kamren, a student at Monument Academy PCS, after detailing a time in which he had to stand in front of the classroom and read aloud — something he’s terrified to do.

Williams believes his counseling and therapeutic background are evident in his teaching efforts. He also believes that since he’s a product of the city and he has been an achiever that his students can do the same.

Socratic Seminar at Center City PCS – Capitol Hill

Seventh-grade students at Center City Public Charter School – Capitol Hill recently finished reading the novel “Castle Diaries,” which is written like a journal about the life of a page during the Middle Ages.

To explore the themes within the book, students led a Socratic seminar that explored their own identities, social hierarchies during the Middle Ages, and what it would have been like to live at that time.

During the discussion, students quickly identified with the inequities within social classes and the unfairness that can come with those inequities.

Leading the discussion gave students the chance to build on others’ ideas, debate answers, and hold each other accountable for what was said. The discussion also provided students an opportunity to take charge of their learning environment.

SBOE Back-to-School Updates

State Board of Education members attended “Back-to-School Night” events last month at DCPS and public charter schools, where they listened to community members share their thoughts on the DCPS chancellor search and welcomed a public panel on “safe passage” at their public meeting.

SBOE student representatives Tatiana Robinson and Marjoury Alicea were officially sworn into their positions and held the first Student Advisory Committee meeting of the 2018–19 school year. In addition, the ESSA Task Force was back in action diving into the school report card design set to debut in December.

All students, parents, educators, and community members are invited to provide testimony at SBOE monthly public meetings. For more information, call 202-741-0888 or email sboe@dc.gov.

Chancellor Search

The SBOE, including its student representatives and Student Advisory Committee, urged D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in a recent letter to make certain that any candidate for the chancellor’s post possesses several qualities.

The letter, which stated SBOE’s commitment to ensuring that the next chancellor is ready to lead from day one, notes that the new schools leader “must be insightful and proactive, committed to analyzing and sharing data with the public, committed to incorporating public trust from families, willing to innovate, capable and committed to championing DCPS, and focused on building relationships and rebuilding trust.”

Special Education Enhancement Fund Grant

The Bowser administration recently announced the winners of $2 million in Special Education Enhancement Fund competitive grants, administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, that will assist public schools in six local education agencies improve their capacity to serve and improve educational outcomes for more than 800 students they serve who have disabilities.

“Although District students, overall, have been improving on tests, we need to do more to close achievement gaps for our students with disabilities,” Bowser said. “The SEEF competitive grant will help schools use promising interventions to improve outcomes for our students with disabilities.”

The six new grantees include:

• Bridges Public Charter School (PCS), in partnership with Briya PCS (Ward 5; $385,737.45)

• DC Prep PCS (Wards 5, 7, and 8; $385,737.45)

• Eagle Academy PCS (Wards 6 and 8; $385,737.45)

• E.L. Haynes PCS (Wards 1 and 4; $ 385,737.45)

• Meridian PCS (Ward 1; $225,607.73)

• Monument PCS (Ward 6; $231,442.47)

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