Izabela Miller, above, reported as new principal at Amidon-Bowen on July 5. Photo by Meg Brinckman.

Izabela Miller has accepted the offer to lead Amidon-Bowen Elementary School as its principal. She has held a variety of teaching and coaching positions in Poland, her home country, and in D.C. Her last assignment was at Powell Elementary School in NW, where she served as an instructional coach and oversaw a professional-development program targeted to helping teachers meet the needs of student based on their achievement testing data.

Miller was a reading specialist and literacy coach at Maya Angelou Public Charter High School and has coordinated the Everybody Wins! Program, which has been an integral part of Amidon-Bowen for many years. She looks forward to planning events with the community and making Amidon-Bowen a community-centered school.

There are approximately 13 teaching positions at Amidon-Bowen to be filled this year. Miller has been interviewing prospective teaching and support-staff candidates since she reported for duty on July 5. One fourth of those filling the new positions will be new to the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), but not necessarily to teaching. New teachers will attend a “New Teacher Orientation” from Aug. 10 through 12. Teachers from within the system will report with all the staff on Aug. 15.

There will be two instructional coach positions, one for Grades 1 through 5, and one for the early-childhood classes. It is likely the early-childhood position will be shared with other schools. An assistant principal has already been hired and will report to work in July.

There will be a reduction in the Support Positions allotted to Amidon-Bowen. There will be a school nurse on board as required by law in schools with early-childhood programs. D.C. Start will again be providing service to the community along with a full-time social worker. The full-time psychologist position has been eliminated. Teaching aid positions for the early-childhood classes and special education will be assigned, although at this time, any additional positions have not been determined.

While there is no extra funding for professional development tied to restructuring status, the professional-development office will be providing professional training to implement the citywide adoption of “Common Core State Standards.” Common Core is a new set of standards that support the curriculum and will have a major impact on providing quality education for all DCPS students. Amidon-Bowen will be participating in this program. Information about these standards is available on the DCPS website. Miller is expecting very strong support from the Office of Professional Development for Amidon-Bowen. As required by the Teachers Union Contract, 30 minutes every morning before school is devoted to structured professional development and curriculum coordination.  

There is no information at this time about the possibility of a Saturday scholars program but there will be an after-school program. Miller hopes for support from the community as volunteers in the before and after school programs and to support the newly renovated library. She prefers that volunteers, who must undergo the background check and fingerprint requirements of DCPS, contact her directly and soon. Amidon-Bowen needs to have met these requirements and they must be in place when school starts to make a smooth transition into the school year.

Miller is very interested in continuing the community partnerships that have been in place. Everybody Wins! is expected to be in the building. The Washington Waterfront Association and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, which includes Ft. McNair, have been community partners with Amidon-Bowen. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Washington Nationals, Councilman Tommy Wells Office, Potbelly Sandwiches and Safeway have all made contributions to the school in various ways and are expected to provide the now traditional “Welcome” to students and parents on the first day of school, Aug. 22.

Work is underway on the conversion of the second floor Learning Center. The library will be moved to this space and it will be equipped for a variety of learning situations. The old library space is being considered as an area for professional-development activities.   

Miller is very enthusiastic about the “Tools of the Mind” program that will be used in the early-childhood classes this fall. She has coached this program in the past and enthusiastically supports its goals to lead young children to be self-regulated through a progression of teacher-regulated, peer regulated and ultimately, self regulated activities. Research shows that self-regulation learned in early childhood correlates with later success in school.

Miller’s message for the community is simply that Amidon-Bowen is moving forward to implement changes to benefit students and all stake holders in Southwest. The implementation of “Tools of the Mind” strategies for the early-childhood program, the continuation of “Foundations” and “Just Words” which have been part of the program for Grades 1 through 5 and the active participation by Amidon-Bowen in the citywide “Common Core Standards” is the recipe.

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