On the first week of the new school year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made a surprise visit to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, highlighting the significant academic improvement of the Southwest school over the last year. DeVos brought cookies for the school staff to congratulate them on their achievements, and was warmly received by school officials.

The recognition was well-deserved. Over the last academic year, Amidon-Bowen increased the number of students who met or exceeded expectations on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, known as PARCC. The school had a 4.6 percentage point increase in students performing well in math, and a 6.1 percentage point increase in students performing well in English language arts. These gains outpaced the DC average as well as the national state-by-state average. The test is administered system-wide in DC Public Schools, evaluating students on a five-point scale.

While DeVos’ gift to the staff was well-received, a group of Amidon-Bowen parents and community members saw the visit as an opportunity to highlight some of the additional needs at the school, including teacher requests for laptops, supplies, printers and headphones in the classroom. Within hours, community members were spreading the word on social media that the school could use #computersnotcookies. The online push included a link to www.donorschoose.org, a charity which makes it easy for individuals to safely donate to specific education projects.

“We realized we had an opportunity not just to highlight the great academic improvements at the school, but also some of the remaining financial needs at the school,” said Ava Millstone, Chair of the Caring and Support Committee, Amidon-Bowen PTA. “It was amazing seeing the entire community step up and help out the school on the heels of the Secretary’s visit.”

Within 48 hours, the effort had raised over $2,500, fully funding six teachers’ projects, including printers, laptops, Chromebooks for special education students, and math and science educational toys for PreK.

Even after the outpouring of support, however, funds are still needed for science kits, healthy snacks, paper products and iPads. For more information about these projects, visit www.donorschoose.org and search for Amidon-Bowen.

BY Mike Goodman

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