As students return to Amidon-Bowen for the 2013-2014 school year, they and their parents can expect to see and experience a variety of changes that point to the school’s growing success and improving record of academic achievement.

The school’s population has grown by over 100 students in the past two years, and has already exceeded its projected enrollment of 303. Though the final count will not become official until October, over 327 students are currently enrolled. As further testament to Amidon-Bowen’s growing popularity, the early childhood program now boasts a waiting list of 17 students with out-of-boundary families seeking to enroll their children.

As for the staff, Amidon-Bowen now enjoys a roster of teachers who are all rated effective or highly effective. Over the summer, three experienced new teachers joined the staff, each of whom has a proven track record of successfully helping students improve.

“We have an extremely strong team in place,” said Principal Izabela Miller.

Faculty and staff convened over the summer to make detailed plans for the school year, all geared at maximizing student learning. The changes including cutting down on the scheduled transition time between classes, which has now been reduced from five minutes to two.

Amidon-Bowen provides its students with a variety of amenities and instructors that are rare among DC public elementary schools, including a laptop for every student, a full-time art teacher, gym coach, librarian, and two full-time reading tutors, and it is one of the few DC elementary schools that has its own gym.

In addition to these services, PTA President Martin Welles emphasizes the high-level partnerships that are in place to benefit Amidon-Bowen students, including NASA’s Mars Rover project for fourth graders, a transportation club run in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, and other nascent projects with the Department of Defense and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In an exciting recent development, the DC United Soccer Club selected Amidon-Bowen as the only public elementary school in the city that will receive a 12 week after-school clinic for boys and girls grades K-5 on the school’s soccer field. Practice will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. All participants will receive full uniforms.

The host of positive developments does not change the fact that many challenges remain for a school working towards a successful reconstitution. In addition to continuing the drive to improve test scores, Principal Miller said that the school’s main challenge for the year ahead will be to increase attendance, cutting back on truancy and tardy arrivals. The staff got a jump on the problem over the summer, conducting home visits with families whose children had attendance issues last year. The work will continue throughout the year in an effort to make sure that all the students enrolled at Amidon-Bowen receive the full benefit of classroom time.

Continuing Principal Miller’s quest to expand community engagement, Saturday School will resume in October, and Principal Miller hopes that she can entice a group of regular volunteers from the neighborhood to help students achieve higher test results and expand their knowledge base. Lavanya Poteau coordinates programs for the school and anyone interested in volunteering their time and teaching skill for the betterment of the community should contact her through the school.

By: Lucy Rojansky

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