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.
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.
Elizabeth Osborne, Ward 1
School: Tubman ES
Why DCPS? We toured the school, we loved the principal, and we liked the idea of going to a neighborhood school. The first thing every parent should do is investigate the school in their neighborhood instead of operate on rumors. When you get there, and you see the teachers in action, you learn what you need to know. I see a lot of parents investigate charter schools without going to their public school, and I don’t understand that. I happen to have a gem of a school in my neighborhood, even if a lot of people in my neighborhood haven't noticed it yet.
Why I joined the Parent Cabinet: My kids are in a school that has many things going for it, but has many challenges as well, particularly facility challenges and overcrowding challenges. I want to advocate for my school and my kids. I want to get a better insight on how funding decisions are made within DCPS, whether or not DCPS leadership sees the same challenges I do. I want to see what they see, and I want them to see what I see, so they have the chance to address those concerns as well.
Hot Topic at School: Facilities. Tubman is a school that has reached an age where it needs a lot of attention. It could become a problem in educating its students. The security issue is a big one, too, especially with people using the playground after school hours.
Alejandra Vallejo, Ward 1
School: Bancroft ES
Why DCPS? I think one of the best things about Bancroft is diversity in every sense of the word. Diversity was essential for the education of our daughter because our family is diverse. I wanted to show my daughter that this is the US, and this is the normal thing in life. When you learn it when you're young, it's easier to develop that sense of inclusion. I think that DCPS has been making a great effort to be very inclusive, and we wanted to support the effort. And on top of it all, we have a bilingual school.
Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I think it will be good to know how to help DCPS in a more active way. I find this as a window of opportunity not just with the school, but with the system as a whole. I'm hoping to learn more about other schools and the vision for schools at the macro level.
Hot Topic at School: Bilingual education and being a bridge for the Hispanic community. One issue is how to improve bilingual education and how to improve the tests. A lot of the tests are not directed to measure bilingualism. We need other measures to prove that bilingual education is important.
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.
Charles DeSantis, Ward 2
School: Hyde Addison ES, Mann ES
Why DCPS? I was raised in a public school environment, and I believe in public schools. Public schools can provide great quality education to students despite certain stereotypes. More than anything, public schools provide a great framework for investment in communities.
Why I joined the Parent Cabinet: The importance of joining this Cabinet for me is that I have four kids. Specifically, I have one child who has special needs. Though I know DCPS is doing its best to implement new special needs programs, I feel I need to represent that particular community on a parent-level to give voice to a community that needs more representation.
Hot Topic at School: I feel we need to make sure the infrastructure is there to support students of all needs. For example, as it relates to my special needs child, resources being readily available are extremely important. Another concern for me revolves around the issue of bussing. There seems to be a lack of dependability and consistency in that arena. Though we are fortunate to have a car, not everyone has this luxury. How do we make public transportation more reliable for all parents and students?
Adria Wright, Ward 2
School: School Without Walls @ Francis Stevens
Why DCPS? Simply put, I am a DC resident. Though I didn’t go to DCPS as a child, I heard the public schools were amazing when I went to an Ed Fest. Combined with my pride of being a DC resident and the great programs I saw at Ed Fest, I felt DCPS was the place to be for both my children and myself.
Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: As the secretary at the Home and School Association board, I am very active at my school. Due to my role there, I have seen areas where there could be improvement. I wanted to join this Cabinet because I wanted to help our school continue to improve while concurrently helping the surrounding community progress as well.
Hot Topic at School: Great education and equity for all students is my major priority. How do we fill the academic achievement gap? How do we equip teachers to teach effectively regardless of a person’s makeup and background? These are the questions I wish to tackle in the Parent Cabinet.
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.
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.
Robin Appleberry, Ward 4
School: Powell ES
Why DCPS? I feel strongly that public schools are an important way to make DC great and to fulfill our commitment to respecting and empowering every child. I feel that DC can make a huge difference in the world, and we wanted to be a part of that. We were drawn to Powell because of its dual language program and because it is a really diverse school. I like that not everyone looks like my kids, and they learn from that. I learned that the teachers are committed to education and growing up whole children, not just focusing on academics. We were also really happy to be part of our neighborhood school system.
Why I joined the Parent Cabinet: I feel like it's really important for parents to show up and support the school system in raising up every kid. I get the sense that some parents feel like their job is to maximize their child's opportunity. I don't feel like that. I feel like if we can educate all of our children together, then that is their best opportunity. Even if the kids have to learn how to accommodate each other, then that will help them. If DCPS is going to succeed in this, then I feel like they need parents like us to show up.
Hot Topic at School: One big one is recess. Powell is a Title I school, and the instructional requirements mean that they don't get much time at all for active, unstructured play. Parents are concerned about that. On a higher level, there is concern or talk about change. Our school has grown a lot in the last five years. Everyone is trying to figure out how we can all be together. Also, will people stick with the school through the older grades? Our lower grades are full, but it's always a question of if that trend will be the same with the older kids.
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.
Kristine Erickson, Ward 5
School: John Burroughs ES
Why DCPS? It was a tough choice because there are so many good schools in the area. We decided to stay with DCPS though because it is already established and has a long history. The real charm of DCPS is its community and educators. Their sense of connectivity with the neighborhood immediately makes them a dedicated group of educators for our students. Once we decided to get to know the teachers and the community more, we instantly became invested.
Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: By joining the Parent Cabinet, I hopefully can make a difference by serving my community through representation and contributing in any way I can.
Hot Topic at School: In general, we need to try and obtain resources. Resources of different varieties are needed, including financial, educational, and programming, among others. For example, language programs are of increasing needed in DC Public Schools. Many parents want their students to be diverse with respect to language in order to be both more competitive and communicative with people spanning different cultures.
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.
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.
Dionne Moore, Ward 7
School: Hardy MS
Why DCPS? Apart from being a product of DCPS, I am also a big advocate for public education. Interestingly enough, a lot of the schools I chose were from recommendations of other parents who highly praised DC Public School initiatives. I really do feel as though DCPS is turning around things educationally, and I am more than happy to be involved in that movement.
Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: The opportunity to learn more about the public school system I was born and raised in was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
Hot Topic at School: The absence of quality schools in my ward and the limited choices for high school all strike me as topics to stop and think about. What can we do as both parents and a community to build up quality 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.
Ameen Beale, Ward 8
School: Turner ES
Why DCPS? I am a veteran. My wife and I are DCPS graduates. We believe in the public school system and all of the opportunities that exist for our children. DCPS has provided a diverse learning environment and innovative teaching techniques for urban youth, which I think are particularly important.
Why I joined the Parent Cabinet: Because I have a vested interest in DCPS and its even brighter future. I want to strengthen our neighborhood and our partnerships between our students, families, and DCPS administration. I'm hoping to strengthen our community by being on the Cabinet. I would like to advocate for the parents who don't know how to advocate for themselves.
Hot Topic at School: We have a lot of motivated kids in Ward 8 schools, but people in Ward 8 feel left out. In this ever-changing city, our ward would like to feel included in the school system. That means equal funding and equal opportunity as the rest of the city. Safety is another hot topic. The primary concern is to minimize suspensions, disruptions, and conflict-resolution issues. I want to make the neighborhood option an attractive option.
Tara Brown, Ward 8
School: Patterson ES, Leckie ES
Why DCPS? I know there are charter school options, but I feel like public schools are important because it is a real life representation of where we live within the community. I myself got a public school education. I want my daughter and nephew to relate to the people they are going to school with.
Why I Joined the Parent Cabinet: I saw that everyone cared in the schools I was part of, everyone was doing the best they could. However, there were other things that were getting in the way that proved as impediments. I wanted to find a way I could contribute to the schools I was involved in. By joining the Cabinet, I could, in a small way, find some ways to remove some of those impediments.
Hot Topic at School: The disparity of schools as it relates to quality education is the biggest concern I have right now. For example, my children are both in Patterson and Leckie, yet Leckie is performing better than Patterson. Why? Bullying is also a major concern for me. How do we detect and prevent bullying? As big an issue as it is, so many parents don’t know their children are going through it. Another hot topic is how do we connect parents with the people in DCPS? How do we, as parents, get involved in the big school conversation?