Chancellor's Parent Cabinet 2015 

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Meet the Chancellor’s 2015 Parent Cabinet Members:

They come from all over the District. They are soon-to-be parents and grandparents and everything in between. They’re editors and economists, homemakers and military men and women. They’re recent transplants to DC, or their families go back generations. They represent a diversity of backgrounds, races, and perspectives. They are, however, united by a few things: a fierce love for their children, a deep investment in their neighborhood and their city, and an abiding commitment to making DC Public Schools the best it can be. And now, they are ready to roll up their sleeves and work with the Chancellor on program and policy decisions that will affect all children in DCPS. Get to know them below.

Parent Cabinet Meeting Notes



Kevin Sampson  

Ward 1

School: Eaton ES

Why DCPS? I’m committed to public education because I’m a product of a public school. It’s also an exciting time to be here. With charters and traditional schools, I feel like to some extent the market-based pressures are working.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’m a former teacher and now an engineer. I’d love to see an expansion of STEM. I know education is ground zero for creating futures. I’ve been very active in schools and this was a logical next step.

Hot Topic at School:  Middle schools. The biggest challenge is to continue on from some of the great work in elementary schools. When you’ve invested in a house and neighborhood you’d like to see continuity in schools.


Vivian Guerra (Returning Member)

Ward 1

School: Oyster Adams Bilingual EC

Favorite thing about Parent Cabinet: Meeting other parents who live across the city.

Hot Topic at School:  Middle school retention. Strengthening differentiated teaching and developing meaningful inclusion. Making sure the learning is customized for the struggling students to high performing to those in the middle.


Olivia Chase (Returning Member)

Ward 1

School: Hyde-Addison ES

Favorite Part of Parent Cabinet: Interacting directly with the Chancellor and seeing that she listens to us. Other than going to church and civic activity, this is my favorite time of the month.

Hot Topic at School: School culture- trying to work together with parents who have been disgruntled so that we can begin to work toward some results. Issues of (socioeconomic) class. Also, special education.


Shanti Sale 

Ward 2 

School: Ross ES 

Why DCPS? As a DC government employee, I know the planning and hard work that goes into DCPS. Ross is providing a great early childhood education for my son. 

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: My goal is to help everyone be informed about DCPS - to build a network of parents to get feedback from and to share it with the cabinet. I would love to help our children across all wards to have the same access to extra curricular activities and field trips. 

Hot Topic at School:  PARCC. We’ve had a few coffee meetings with staff at Ross and a lot of people want to better understand PARCC and the Common Core.



Christena Howell (Returning Member)

Ward 2

School: Ross ES

Favorite Part of Parent Cabinet: I loved being in a space where we could discuss DCPS issues and initiatives candidly and openly. I am appreciative of the staff who took the time to give thoughtful presentations and who really appreciated our feedback as parents. I personally have a much better (and bigger) perspective on what it's like to be a public school parent around different wards and neighborhoods in DC, and I owe this to the cabinet members who served with me. I am grateful for the school community I have at Ross Elementary and am committed to doing all I can to support that community as we grow into middle and high school families.

Hot Topic at School:  Our community is concerned about middle school and the attrition of families from DCPS at that age. I am also concerned about getting parents of PK3 and PK4 involved in their schools and committed past kindergarten.


Thomas Strike (Returning Member)

Ward 2

School: Stoddert ES

Favorite part of Parent Cabinet: Having access to the Chancellor and Josephine (Chief of the Office of Family and Public Engagement). Being able to have dialogue with them is huge.

Hot Topic at School: Space. In 2010 we had about 250 children now we have over 400! Another hot topic is Hardy Middle School, which has been underutilized by feeder schools. That’s changing, I hope. Parents are becoming more involved and the issue has been lifted up to the Chancellor and Josephine. And they understand.


E. Andre Carter 

Ward 3

School: Stoddert ES

Why DCPS? We were in private school before.  Then I realized “fit” was important and we wanted to strike a balance of good education with an environment that wasn’t so pressurized.  We did the lottery and landed in a place that was a good fit for us. We are happily surprised with what’s happening at Stoddert.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I am involved in a lot of things, such as coaching sports, and at the end of the day when you find a fit, you end up being involved.

Hot Topic at School:  I sense something special is building. At the same time we need to adapt and change. For example, our 4th grade class was special, but we haven’t done a good enough job enticing them with middle school options. I’d love to see more continuity, and get the message out that there’s real and substantial education that can be had beyond elementary school.


Sweta Shah 

Ward 3

School: Oyster Adams Bilingual EC

Why DCPS? I’m a product of public schools and I firmly believe in public education. DCPS is very unique because it’s incredibly diverse. I’m really impressed with Chancellor’s vision for ensuring every single child is successful through DCPS. And I believe DCPS has a rare opportunity to become a leader nationally. That really excites me a lot. From bilingual programs to STEM to dual enrollment, DCPS is on the rise and I want to be a part of that. 

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’m part of the PTA at my school and I’ve always been very active. My child is in a bilingual school, so I’ve seen the impact of bilingual programs and demand is increasing, so I hope we can have more offerings for all children. I also work in international education and development so I hope to bring those practical perspectives that may help DCPS.

Hot Topic at School:  Teacher retention, especially among native language speakers. The bilingual aspect of school relies on native Spanish speakers—but sometimes their visas run out and they have to leave. This creates a big gap in learning at school. We know that teachers are key to success. So when we find good teachers we must keep them.


Corinne McIntosh Douglas

Ward 3

School: School Without Walls

Why DCPS? The diversity in the student body. My kids have attended since pre-K and the mix of neighborhood kids, to kids from across the city, to students who have immigrated or who are attached to embassies—the mix is fantastic.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I have twins who are thriving successfully in DCPS. Since they’ve been in school, I’ve seen issues where I could contribute a voice. I thought, “I can help make this stronger—wouldn’t that be great?”

Hot Topic at School:  The ongoing discussion about Walls students on the Francis-Stevens campus. I don’t think there’s been a resolution.


Jessica Bonness 

Ward 4

School: Takoma EC

Why DCPS? I had a public school experience in Fairfax and the schools are getting bigger. I’m excited that DCPS has smaller schools to offer. Kindergarten is such a community. I’m seeing our school grow a lot, and neighborhood families are choosing to send their kids there.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’m an educator, and while I appreciate testing, I’m a big fan of design thinking—applying arts to school design. I would like to talk and see more of that. I would also like to talk about differentiation for all of our kids. And I wanted a chance to get involved in the larger community.

Hot Topic at School: All these new families, are they going to stay are they going to leave? I don’t know what we are going to do yet. That’s one of the bigger issues that’s happening in just a few years.


Laura Levine (Returning Member)

Ward 4

School: Shepherd ES

Favorite Part of Parent Cabinet: My favorite part was meeting other cabinet members. I didn’t know any of them when I started and we had so much in common and yet we had such different experiences from both ends of the spectrum.  There’s a lot that we have shared.

Hot Topic at School: Renovation. We’re in the 3rd phase of it and we are unsure of the funds to come.


Michael Koppenheffer 

Ward 4

School: Lafayette ES, Deal MS

Why DCPS? I’ve seen how much progress schools have made to bringing excellent education to all students and the impact the new initiatives have had on kids.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’ve seen how important it is for parents, administration, teachers, and community to collaborate. I’ve been an active volunteer, so I’ve seen some of the challenges. I feel like I can help.

Hot Topic at School: There’s some anxiety around construction and relocation. Also, high school. I’ve had a really excellent DCPS experience. Other parents are looking toward high school and seeing that there are options that are equally excellent.


Connie Brown

Ward 5

School: Luke C. Moore HS

Why DCPS? First and foremost I am a graduate of DCPS (Cardozo Senior High 1970). Also I am a retired DC government worker of DCPS. I started giving back to DCPS. I’m a volunteer at Luke C. Moore and I work with students in improving their life and changing skills.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I was asked by the principal of Luke C. Moore (Azalia Hunt- Speight) and I thought that was excellent idea. I am a volunteer Parent Advocate here at LCMA, giving advice to parents and students. I also worked in central office as staffing assistant 1991-1998 until I retired.

Hot Topic at School:  One hot button issue at Luke C. Moore is that we are not recognized as an alternative school. Street Academy/ Luke C. Moore were designed to be an alternative school and to some, we have been looked at as a regular comprehensive school. We should have vocational programs, GED program etc. to assist the students that do not desire to go to college.


Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez 

Ward 5

School: Bruce-Monroe ES

Why DCPS? What doesn’t excite me? I just moved to DC from the Southwest. As an academic, DC presents a wonderful opportunity to connect with scholars and practitioners and community as we seek to improve educational opportunity for all children.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: It gives an opportunity to collaborate with the district in a more strategic way. I’m thrilled to be able to have a true dialogue.

Hot Topic at School: Cultural-linguistic development of children from a diverse perspective. We’re at a dual language school, so success in that program is critical to that community.


Helene Klusmann 

Ward 5

School: McKinley Tech EC

Why DCPS? Diversity. The opportunities. There is so much to do here for a teacher, parent, or student.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’m a mom of three and a grandma of three. From the first child on, the gift of being a parent meant I was going to wear many hats and I was ready for it. I saw how great my parents did and it helped me, as a single mom, to raise my first child and I want to share what I’ve learned. I’ve always about being involved in the PTA. I just want to share that excitement and I hope to give some ideas about how to engage parents.

Hot Topic at School:  Family engagement. How to build a partnership with a teacher.


Matthew O'Hara 

Ward 6

School: Maury ES

Why DCPS? It’s exciting that it’s changing-- academically and demographically.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: If we want to see change, it’s important to do our part. I have little kids so I want to be thinking ahead of upper elementary, middle school and high school. As far as perspective goes, we are a two-dad family with adopted children; we’re also licensed foster parents. I’m a sign language interpreter so I encounter issues of being different, accessibility, and oppression-- human rights are important to me. I’m also mediator and I believe in fairness and dialogue. These are the kinds of things that I hope to bring to Parent Cabinet.

Hot Topic at School:  Scores and academics. Making sure there’s enough resources.


Laurence Gill 

Ward 6

School: J.O Wilson ES

Why DCPS? I have two kids and every day I see excellent progression in them. Their school is welcoming to my family and me.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I’ve been in our neighborhood for 12 years. This is a great opportunity to be able to voice the good things happening at our school to district.

Hot Topic at School:  Equity. Advancement. Asking the question, “Are students are getting the most challenges possible without leaving other kids behind?”


Nazanin Ash 

Ward 6

School: Brent ES

Why DCPS? It has been and continues to be a moment of transformation and I feel really lucky to go to a high-quality neighborhood school. Brent has an entire community built around it and it’s a privilege, but it shouldn’t be. DCPS has been making tremendous strides in making this happen, and being open to the contributions of parents. 

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: It’s really clear there is going to be a tremendous opportunity to learn from (parents’) shared experiences and challenges across our different school experiences, and I am really excited about that. I’m also very excited to learn from the experiences of other schools.

Hot Topic at School: Brent is a great school and has made great strides.  Our community has two big challenges: One, we have very diverse learning needs, with a significant proportion of struggling students and students ready for a different level of challenge.  Fulfilling the potential of all of these students with limited resources is tough.  Second, the middle school question is a huge issue for us--two-thirds of our 4th graders don't return for 5th grade, because they leave for charter middle schools.  Keeping our community together post-Brent, and building on the investments made there, is difficult.


Camille Fair-Bumbray 

Ward 7

School: Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Why DCPS? I’m very excited about the new initiative, Empowering Males of Color. I have been working with students of color for many years and I am glad that they are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I love being a parent and I have a lot of experience in education personally and professionally. I believe in power of many people working together and I always learn a lot when I work with other parents.  I also am very attracted to the Chancellor’s idea of trying to make schools equitable across the city.

Hot Topic at School:  Resources. Human resources. Physical resources. Temporary space is hard.


Jerome Young 

Ward 7

School: Burrville ES, Kelly Miller MS

Why DCPS? The growth and development… you can see where the schools are going and you can see it’s pushing to be a leader nationwide.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I was asked by the principal to serve. I’m a father and raising young black males so I have that perspective.  I’ve also been involved in other parent committees at school.

Hot Topic at School:  Behavior problems. Also, testing. Testing is supposed to gauge where you are-- but not everyone tests well. Retaining teachers who are on board with development of the school and DCPS.


Shameka Stewart

Ward 7

School: Kelly Miller MS

Why DCPS? Opportunity. There’s a lot of change taking place. My daughter is in middle school and to see a school go from little involvement to high involvement to funding teacher grants—I know change is happening and it’s possible.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I want to be a voice always looking to be part of solution. I have a background in working with kids, preschool, mentoring, tutoring, being the PTA president. I’ve always been involved with the community.

Hot Topic at School:  Academic rigor. I was especially happy to get into the academy at Kelly Miller. Some parents look for middle schools outside of DCPS, because they don’t think they’re rigorous or safe enough.  


Tara Brown 

Ward 8

School: Patterson ES

Why DCPS? I appreciate the amount of money the city has to invest in education. My kids are at a Title I school and they just got an extra hour of instruction—I know that has a cost. I appreciate that DCPS is doing what it can to help address issues at a school with challenges.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I was very excited that there was even a parent cabinet. It’s great to have the opportunity to speak directly to people who drive the policy about the schools my kids attend. I’m also always excited to connect with involved parents.

Hot Topic at School: Prevalence in bullying and how it affects education. I’m also concerned about parent involvement. I think DCPS does a great job, but the piece that missing is what happens when the kids leave school. Without the at home piece, you can only do so much.  


Kimberly Johnson 

Ward 8

School: MLK ES, Johnson MS

Why DCPS? What excites me about DCPS is the different programs that are available to our students, parents and community. Also, how DCPS craves the involvement and support of the parents.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I applied for the Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet to have a voice for our Ward 8 Schools and community, to gain a better understanding of what is needed and wanted in our DCPS community. I am strong believer of "It Takes A Village". I believe I can bring thoughts, ideas, recommendations and leadership skills.

Hot Topic at School: More computers for our schools. 


Davena Archie 

Ward 8

School: Ballou HS

Why DCPS? The changes that they’re making for achievement for all their students—such as increasing test scores.

Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I bring excitement, energy and passion for the idea that all students are treated equally. I want to help them go in the right direction in life.

Hot Topic at School: Funding. New teachers and new maintenance staff for our new school.  

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