Photo caption: The Sprafkin family.

Families in Southwest and across the District enjoy a wide array of options when choosing a school for their children. There are private schools, charter schools, and public schools in other quadrants. Then there is the neighborhood school, sometimes considered a last resort for families striving to find the best education for their children.

In the case of Amidon-Bowen—the elementary school that serves most of Southwest—word of improving test scores, high-quality teachers, academic rigor, and varied extracurricular offerings have begun to overtake the lingering perception of an under-performing school.

The CBCC Education Committee seeks to support all of our neighborhood schools by helping tell the story of the positive changes taking place within their walls. In the interest of demonstrating the wide range of Southwest families who increasingly are choosing Amidon-Bowen for their children, the Committee believes it is time to provide these neighborhood families with a platform to describe their choice and experience of the school in their own words. This article marks the first in a series of profiles.

Noah and Rachana Sprafkin moved to Southwest just over four years ago. Their daughter, Noor, is a kindergartner at Amidon-Bowen. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Where did you move from? We moved from overseas.

What do you do for a living? Rachana is a graphic designer and Noah works for the federal government.

What were your initial impressions of Amidon-Bowen? Not so great. When we moved to the neighborhood, we walked by the school a few times, and it seemed a bit run down. We also heard from other parents that the school was not good.

What compelled you to enroll your child there? Our daughter was attending the AppleTree Charter School program, which was in the same building at that time, and I saw Marty Welles, the Amidon PTA president, almost every day working hard to improve the school’s environment and community engagement. His kids were in Amidon, and he was determined to make this school and community better for them. We talked to him, and Amidon seemed to be making some really positive changes so we decided to send our daughter there for kindergarten.

What has your experience been thus far? We love the school curriculum, the extracurricular activities, and, most importantly, my daughter’s class teacher and teaching assistant, Ms. Young and Ms. Ylli. The school principal, Ms. Miller, and all of the staff are excellent and deeply committed to the school.

How would you rate the quality of the teachers? Great! Our daughter’s teachers have really helped her thrive.

How would you rate the quality of the administration? Awesome. From the admission process to the present, everything has been done very efficiently and professionally.

What do you like the most about the school? The individual attention and encouragement that our daughter receives.

What does your child like best about the school? Her class teachers.

Has your child had opportunities at Amidon-Bowen that you do not think she would have had elsewhere? Amidon’s use of technology has really helped our daughter’s learning.

Have you felt any benefits from enrolling your child at the neighborhood elementary school (as opposed to a charter or other public school elsewhere in the city)? We are happy that our daughter can get a high-quality education and can participate in a range of enriching activities at a school that is only a short walk away.

Did you have any concerns before you enrolled your child? If so, have they been addressed? We were concerned that our daughter would not be challenged, but after speaking with her teachers, they have done a wonderful job of encouraging her and making learning interesting and fun.

If you could tell your neighbors one thing about the school, what would it be? It is a very good school, and it needs more community support to keep getting better.

What do you think the school’s greatest challenge is? There needs to be more community engagement, and parents should get more involved.

What would you advise prospective parents to consider when evaluating their school choices in DC? Visit prospective schools, meet the teachers and the administrators, find out about the PTA, and go to a school event to get a sense of the community.

What is one thing you wish your neighbors knew about the school? Amidon has a great team and is on the rise!

By: CBCC Education Committee

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