Inside Takoma Education Campus: A Guide for Prospective Families

Takoma Education Campus Open House

It has become a new rite of passage in Washington, DC. Parents all over the District attend public and charter school open houses and view multiple websites to glean every bit of insight on the choices they will make in the upcoming DC school lottery.  This was the scene last weekend at Takoma Education Campus, as more than two dozen families packed into the school’s beautiful second-floor library.

The Open House began with Principal Loren Brody welcoming the visitors to the school.  He spent more than 25 minutes explaining various aspects of the school’s curriculums, including an upcoming transition to a new Pre-Kindergarten plan that emphasizes play and social-emotional development.  He also shared how the school’s arts integration methods help students learn in every subject.  The school is very proud of its partnership with the Kennedy Center, its music program and its Spanish language instruction.

Kindergarten Classroom

Ms. CastilloAfter the introductory meeting, the visitors were given a tour of the school.  The first stop for my group was Ms. Castillo’s Kindergarten class.   Her classroom was bright, colorful and well-organized.  She gave us a quick walk-thru of her classroom set up, including the different learning stations.  Then, Ms. Castillo explained the positive behavior intervention program the kindergarten uses which awards “points” to children for exhibiting good behavior.  Finally, she showed us the ClassDojo app, which is a tool teachers can use to communicate with the class families, individual parents or the entire school community.

Pre-Kindergarten Classroom

Mrs. Cory's Pre-Kindergarten class
Mrs. Cory

The next stop was Mrs. Cory’s Pre-Kindergarten class.  Her classroom is large and well-equipped.  It includes a multi-stall bathroom, which comes in handy as some students are still working on potty training early in the school year. After that, Mrs. Cory walked us through the students’ daily routine.  They have a great variety of learning and play activities to experience throughout the day. Their day also contains a one-hour thirty minute nap time. An interesting fact is that the school is adding another mixed-age (PK-3 and 4) classroom next year.

Special Classrooms

After visiting the regular classrooms, the tour showed us several of the school’s “specials” areas.

Dance Room
This is the school’s dance studio. The dance teacher is a dynamo and recently directed the students in a performance of The Nutcracker.

 

Music Room
Here is the beautiful music room. The school’s band recently performed at the Kennedy Center
Music room 2
The room is fully stocked with instruments, thanks to the help of the PTO

 

The Parent Teacher Organization is growing

It is no accident that we chose Takoma Education Campus for our first community school profile.  Indeed, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has been active and intentional about getting the word our about the school and engaging the community.  Here is a word from the current PTO president, Beth Freeborn:

I’m Beth Freeborn. I’m the president of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) at Takoma Education Campus. I’ve been involved with the PTO for the last three years, first as vice-president and now as the president.

Some of the things that the Takoma PTO has done include teacher appreciation breakfasts, grants for teachers to support different projects that the teachers want in their classroom. Last year we had our first online auction which raised almost $10,000 and we were able to provide laptops and iPads that can be used schoolwide. This year in the spring we plan to have our second annual online auction.

We’ve been really, really happy with the amount of support that we’ve received from the local community in terms of helping us with fundraisers and donating things to the school. We hope that the partnership between the PTO and the local community continues to grow.

Transforming into an Elementary School

With the ongoing renovation of Coolidge Senior High School and the pending creation of the “New North Middle”, Takoma Education Campus is one of several PK-8 schools that will be converted into a PK-5 elementary schools over the next three academic years. Consequently, Takoma Education Campus, LaSalle Education Campus, Whittier Education Campus and Brightwood Education Campus will become feeders for the new middle school.  Over the next three years, TEC will drop one grade each year (beginning with Sixth grade) and those students will attend the middle school. In the long run, this new feeder pattern should provide greater visibility and stability for parents in choosing their child’s educational path.

Change is never easy, but this transition promises to yield several benefits to the community:

  1. The new middle school can provide greater depth of academic and extracurricular options for middle school aged students.
  2. The elementary schools can increase their enrollment to meet a growing demand, especially in the PK, Kindergarten and First Grade years.

Learning Outside of the Classroom

Overall, the school provides a nice range of extracurricular options for its students. In additional to Girls and Boys basketball, the school fields a baseball team, track and field, Girls on the Run, DC Chess Challenge, Latin American Youth Center and SITAR Arts Center extracurriculars.  The school also has one of the larger elementary school gymnasiums in the city.  Both before- and after-school care is available.  Before-care begins at 7:30 am and After-care ends at 6:00 pm.

A Message from Principal Loren Brody

Hi, I’m Loren Brody, principal of Takoma Education Campus and we are seeking families to enroll in our school because we have an amazing educational program here. We’re a growing, thriving school community located three blocks from the Takoma Metro station. We are a Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth grade school. We’re transitioning over the next several years where we’ll be an elementary school: Kindergarten through Fifth grade.

We have wonderful partnerships! Partnerships with our entire school community: partnerships with our families, our growing parent teacher organization (PTO), our growing pre-kindergarten committee, parent cafes that we hold where we bring folks together from all of our different diverse backgrounds and make this a strong community.

I especially want to highlight our partnership with the Kennedy Center. We have arts integration — arts programming for all of our students and we have visiting artists that come and work with our teachers, develop arts integration strategies that students use in all their classes: in English language, arts, and math, to deepen their learning and the understanding.

Again, we have a vibrant school community. Please join us for upcoming open houses in January. Events like our Black History Night on February 13 that showcases our school community and our arts work. And please, please enter in the MySchoolDC.org lottery by March 1st! You can get more information on the MySchoolDC website as well as the Takoma website: TakomaEC.us. Thank you!

 

Bottom Line

Takoma Education Campus

All things considered, it was clear to me that Principal Brody and his staff care deeply about the academic and emotional growth of their students.  Mr. Brody and his staff offered a welcoming atmosphere and showed confidence in the quality of education they provide to the community’s children.

Having been through this process twice with our own children, I walked away impressed with this exciting neighborhood school.  If you are searching for an option for your child, I would recommend checking out one of the upcoming Open House events. Don’t let test scores be the only factor that you consider.

Thank you to Principal Brody and the PTO for allowing me to share your community’s story.

Takoma Education Campus is located at 7010 Piney Branch Road NW.  The school is three blocks from the Takoma Metro Station.

Additional Open Houses will be held at Takoma Education Campus on February 13th and April 10 at 9:30am.

MySchoolDC Lottery Due Date for Elementary Schools: March 1, 2019.

TEC’s DC SChool Report Card

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