Izabela Miller, Principal, Amidon-Bowen Elementary School

Principal Izabela Miller begins her second year at Southwest’s only public elementary school on much firmer ground. Remember that the ground did indeed move last year! The District experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on the second day of school! Without another once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, Amidon-Bowen is prepared to move smoothly into the new school year with a long list of positives.

The $5 Million total make over of classrooms, administrative areas and the front entrance has been completed! Technology, light and color upgrades will enhance the learning experience for every child. An Open House will be held on Saturday, September 8th, 10:00 a.m. to noon, to introduce the beautiful new interiors to the community. You all are invited!

Due to the high demand, an additional Early Childhood classroom has been opened. All DC families are welcome to apply. The full enrollment application, with residency verification documents, is required to secure a spot in this new class. As of this writing, there were 27 available slots available for grades K- 5. The successful “Tools for the Mind” program (evaluated by The National Institute for Early Education Research) is being expanded to include Kindergarten this year. It was implemented in the Pre-School and Pre-Kindergarten classrooms last year improving classroom quality and student self-regulation.

The fall playground renovation will include areas for toddlers and 6-12 year olds at a cost of $500,000 and will be completed this fall. The play areas will feature new equipment, specially designed play surfaces and an artificial turf play field and track. The playground will be fenced, but open to the community. The standard size basketball hoops will be installed in Lansburg Park located behind the Metropolitan Police 1D Headquarters on the currently abandoned tennis courts. This area will be totally renovated by DPR in September at a cost of $150,000 to provide a first-class court.

The school has received several grants for the ensuing academic year. DCPS awarded a $240,000 “What’s Possible” innovative grant plus a $750,000 grant from Target for reading and literacy instruction. Last year Target, with the Heart of America Foundation, did a complete makeover of Amidon-Bowen’s Library including the purchase of new books.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, one of Amidon-Bowen’s Community Partners, will be holding a “5K fun walk/run or crawl” around the Mall to raise funds to purchase “Leveled Libraries,” which are fiction and non-fiction classroom reading materials designed for each grade level. This gives every child a chance to enjoy reading no matter where he/she is in the learning spectrum. Paying the entrance fee of $35 and making a $100 donation makes you eligible for the drawing for some very nice prizes. Enter by contacting: http://www.razoo.com/story/Fantastic-March-Ii-5k-Fun-Run-Walk-On-September-9-2012.

Two language programs, French and Mandarin Chinese, funded by the Department of Transportation, will be in the school. L’Alliance Francais, the French language and culture center with chapters in 136 Countries, will provide opportunity for students in grade 3, and possibly grade 2, by creating a full French immersion program two mornings a week. The University of Maryland Mandarin Chinese program provides the opportunity for children to learn about different cultures and to acquire language proficiency.

A wide variety of clubs and activities are already a part of the enrichment activities at Amidon-Bowen. Last year students participated in Snowboarding, Cheer Leading, Choir, The Navy Yard’s Science Program and National Bass Fishing Tournament at National Harbor as well as other activities.

DC CAS scores as reported show an overall 3.3% growth. A sizable group of students moved from a “below basic” position at the beginning of the year to the “basic” category. This important trend is not apparent in the DC CAS reporting, that shows only “proficient” and above scores.  The trend is in the right direction and puts students in position to move ahead this year. Amidon-Bowen will be fully invested in the Common Core Curriculum. Math and Science Common Core will be added. English and Social Studies Common Core were in the program last year. These programs are “student centered” and provide opportunities for collaborative learning experiences.

Great enthusiasm is felt in the smiles of the teachers and staff in the hallways and the beautiful classrooms. Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells has supported the renovation and is working to move the window replacement ahead of the original schedule. Members of the community, including Screech the Nationals Mascot, McGruff the Crime Dog and Officers from Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall will be on hand August 27th to greet students and their parents as they arrive. Safeway and Potbelly will donate breakfast for the staff and parents as they have done for the last three years. I don’t think anything short of another earthquake can eclipse the beginning of this school year.

By Meg Brinckman & Ron McBee.  Meg Brinckman is a longtime contributor to The Southwester on education issues.  Ron McBee is the ANC Commissioner for single-member district 6D03.

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