Investments in Opportunity Academies

In Fiscal Year 2017, DC Public schools invested $4 million to ensure overage, undercredited high school students are on a path to graduation. The new investments include:

  • Creating individual plans for every overage, undercredited high school student to reach graduation and beyond at traditional high schools with support from Directors of Pathways, a new position in each school;
  • Revamping support at Luke C. Moore High School, Washington Metropolitan High School, Ballou STAY High School, and Roosevelt STAY High School with the same individualized, dedicated support to ensure students are on a path toward graduation and provided formalized social-emotional learning and post-secondary readiness support; and
  • Providing targeted recruitment and support for students disconnected from school, but lacking a high school diploma and access to college and high-wage careers.

Meet the students who have chosen an alternative path through our revamped Opportunity Academies:

Ashanti Winstead, Washington Metropolitan High School

Ashanti Winstead, Washington Metropolitan High School“One of my friends and me, we were on the same page. We didn’t like school so I stopped coming to school and she would skip with me. But this one teacher from last year, Ms. Moore—she teaches computer. I was in her typewriting class—called me and was like “Ashanti, what are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m at home.” She’s like, “Why aren’t you at school? I haven’t seen you at school.” And Ms. Thach, and Ms. Luckey, they help me. They come pick me up from my house to bring me to school. Sometimes when I’m sick, they bring me my work. Ms. Solomos has also been a big help. And that helped me figure out that I need school, I need it. To get anywhere, I need it. I moved back in with my grandmother and she walks me to school every day. I make sure she gets on the bus to go to work. It’s a real good system that I have now. And it’s real consistent.” –Ashanti Winstead, student at Washington Metropolitan High School.

“But the good thing that I like about this school is the staff. They won’t give up on you even if you give up on yourself.” –Ashanti Winstead, student at Washington Metropolitan High School.

“I got pregnant last year, and I had my baby October the 1st. I didn’t let that stop me because I knew I had people behind me at my school who were going to help me. Like Ms. Solomos, she’s part of the New Heights program. She helped me tremendously. My whole pregnancy: being in school and walking up and down the steps. She made sure I was hydrated and that I ate. She made sure I was okay. And afterward, when I had my daughter, everyone still treated me the same.” –Ashanti Winstead, student at Washington Metropolitan High School.

“Mr. Narbay. He’s the only reason I passed English. I’ve passed English I, English II, English III, and English IV since last year with Mr. Narbay. He teaches to your understanding. He’ll actually go over it again and again and again. The way he teaches because he talks to you like you’re a person, not just a student. He puts his own experience into it like how he wrote papers in college. I’m so grateful for him. Even though I don’t take him this year, he still helps me because I have to write papers for my science class and for my history class.” –Ashanti Winstead, student at Washington Metropolitan High School.

“We come to school for a reason because society basically gave up on us. Our schools that we were in, gave up one us. Here, they are like, “This is your second chance. We’re not going to put you out. We’re going to push you out: We’re going to push you to greatness.” –Ashanti Winstead, student at Washington Metropolitan High School.

 

Quion Shears, Luke C. Moore High School

Quion Shears, Luke C. Moore High School“What led me to start falling off track was, well, this was in 2013, and my mother got sick. I didn’t find out what it was until late 2014. She was diagnosed with bone cancer. I felt like that was my priority. I can do [school work] with my eyes closed. I felt like it was my priority to stay home and do what I had to do and go to school when I could. It was working out, and then, on August the 10th, that’s when my mother passed away. And when she passed away, that’s when I caught my first serious offense in the court system on November 5th. I didn’t get locked up right then because they didn’t catch me right away, but that’s the date that I committed the crime.” –Quion Shears, student at Luke C. Moore High School. 

“My first day walking into Luke, it was quiet, nice, and calm. I feel as though when I’m here, I’m at home. Because right now, I’m in a group home. During the week, this is my home. That group home is there for sleeping. I consider this my home.” –Quion Shears, student at Luke C. Moore High School.

“I never in my life have been camping before I came here. They took me camping. Every time I used to think about camping, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘No, I’m not going camping. Sleeping outside?” And Mr. Larson said, “We’re about to go camping. Man, I got you.” And I went camping, and I enjoyed myself.” –Quion Shears, student at Luke C. Moore High School.

“I feel like I can tell these [teachers] anything. I can tell them whatever I have to tell them. You think of it, I can tell them and they will listen. I know I can go to Principal Langston and Mr. Lawson. I can also go to Ms. Henry and Ms. Muhammad. […] If you have a serious problem, they help you as if you are paying them to help you. They work like they’re getting paid overtime and time and a half.” –Quion Shears, student at Luke C. Moore High School.

 

Imani Carter, Ballou STAY High School

Imani Carter, Ballou STAY High School“I feel like this is my second family. I was living with friends and close to going to a shelter for nine months, but I was still making sure I came to school and did everything I had to do. Now it feels like my days are getting better. I’m about to graduate.” —Imani Carter, student at Ballou STAY High School 

“Ballou STAY took the time to get to know me and not just judge me. A lot of schools scrunch their face up because they already labeled me as a troubled kid. Ballou STAY didn’t do that to me.” —Imani Carter, student at Ballou STAY High School 

“People don’t know what I go through or know me for me. They don’t how much I’ve been through. They don’t know the struggles. They don’t know anything about me. They just see Imani, the happy person, making everyone laugh. They don’t really see the other side of struggling or not knowing where my next meal is going to come from.” —Imani Carter, student at Ballou STAY High School

“Everything I go through just makes me stronger and makes me who I am today. That’s just how I look at it.” —Imani Carter, student at Ballou STAY High School

“I want to go to the Air Force because I can go to school (and they’ll pay for it) and I’ll be serving my country.” —Imani Carter, student at Ballou STAY High School

 

Dominique Butler, Roosevelt STAY High School

Dominique Butler, Roosevelt STAY High School“When I first got here, I didn’t know anybody—I didn’t even know Principal Young. I was a new student and I’m not used to people speaking to me on the first day of school, like teachers, deans, and security guards. It was different already.” —Dominique Butler, student at Roosevelt STAY High School

“When you hear the word alternative, you think it’s for bad kids or kids that get in a lot of trouble or locked up or did stuff wrong. I don’t know anyone here who did anything wrong. They just get us wrong.” —Dominique Butler, student at Roosevelt STAY High School

“I also write. I wrote a play and it got chosen and was performed by professional actors. The first one was call “Like Father, Like Son”. It’s about a father figure not being in a young child’s life and the big effect and the things he might do if he doesn’t have a father around. And the second one was about Treyvon Martin and Freddie Gray and my friend, Avon, who got killed in DC.” —Dominique Butler, student at Roosevelt STAY High School

“It was one of those feelings that you can’t explain. You’re extra excited and scared at the same time. There were 400 people there, and then I had to talk in front of the crowd. Some people were crying and wanted autographs. It was crazy.” —Dominique Butler, student at Roosevelt STAY High School