Monday, December 14, 2009

Snapshots of the old schools

Found these pics of the two old schools. Sad, the architecture we've lost in the city. The top image is The Ludlow School. The second is The Taylor School. On a related subject, Tim Krepp and I have been writing stories about several of the Capitol Hill Schools for The Hill is Home. He's done two so far. The first was about Brent and the second about Peabody. My first was about Ludlow-Taylor which I posted here. Last week my second story about Lovejoy ran.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ms. Murray's Spanish Program at LTES

Here's a submission by Tom Hamilton about Ms. Murray's Spanish Program.

Buenos Dias. Como esta usted? Bien, Gracias. So begins another class with Ms. Tanya Murray, head of the Spanish language program at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School.

Ms. Murray was raised in Quebec, learning both English and French as she grew up. This was important, according to Ms. Murray. If you don’t learn a second language by the time you are five, the part of the brain dedicated to language-learning may never be fully developed. Because Ms. Murray was already fluent in two languages, she quickly became fluent in Spanish after she moved to Guatemala, where she lived for three years.

Ludlow-Taylor students receive their introduction to Spanish well before their fifth year. Pre-K and kindergarten students meet twice a week for half an hour. First through fifth graders meet once a week for forty-five minutes.

The Spanish language program is an integral part of the arts integration emphasis at Ludlow-Taylor. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” is read – in Spanish, of course -- and acted out by the students in a unique dramatization. Spanish-themed art is produced and Spanish-themed music is performed by the students.

For each month Ms. Murray explores a different learning theme. Last October the theme was food. This month the theme is celebrations, e.g. Dia de los Muertos and Dia de Gracias. In April the theme will be the environment and in June the theme will be “what I like.” What most students will like is this rich and diverse Spanish adventure.

Learning Spanish aids in learning other subjects as well, according to Ms. Murray. The fact that Spanish is Latin-based means that the students will have a big assist in vocabulary development. And because teaching language requires addressing multiple learning styles, the students will be familiar with various approaches to learning.

Ms. Murray looked at a number of D.C. schools. She liked what she saw at Ludlow-Taylor; she liked the arts integration program and she liked the palpable, dynamic forward movement. She applied to Ludlow, interviewed with the principal, Ms. Carolyn Cobbs, and in short measure began to contribute to the overall success of this terrific neighborhood school.

When asked what support she would like to see from the community, Ms. Murray suggested first that neighbors simply come on over, attend open houses, get informed. And then maybe get involved, volunteer, share your skills and talents and avocations.


This article was written by Tom Hamilton

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization

Last evening my wife, Nadine, attended the Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization meeting that was held at Watkins Elementary. Most of us had no idea this group existed. They were overjoyed that someone from Ludlow-Taylor was in attendance.

Here are the basics of the meeting.

The mission statement of this organization is to promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools on Capitol Hill in order to imporve the education received by all children attending our schools.

This month's agenda included:

1. A discussion of Middle and High School Programs both on the Hill and off. Our discussion centered around contacting middle and high school principal’s for information gathering: What does each program currently include? What could be added to make schools more “attractive” prospective students? If is school is already in demand—why is it? What makes a student prepared when entering Middle or High School from the principal’s point of view? From the Principal’s point of view, what are the “need trends” for their school?

2. A report of the most recent meeting of the Eastern High School Coomunity Forum. Eastern High School is considering pursuing a 3 program model that will answer the needs of students in the community: One centered around the medical field, one around the legal field and one around International Studies.

3. Discussion about the MOTH School Information Night on December 3rd at St. Peter's Church at 2nd and C Street SE--Volunteers for table.

4. School Yard Greening Updates from all schools with representatives present at the meeting—Tyler and Brent reported.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PTA Meeting - more complete notes

Rachel Klein took better notes than I and wrote the following report which she has allowed me to post.

Hi everyone,
For those who weren't able to make it, I thought I'd post the highlights of last night's PTA meeting.

We elected the remaining officers on the PTA Executive Board and the Parent LSRT (Local School Restructuring Team) Representatives. So, in addition to Ms. Champion (President) and Ms. King (VP), the PTA Board now includes:
Nadine Henderson (Secretary)
Stephanie Mullette (Financial Secretary)
Anthony Allard (Treasurer)

Parent LSRT members are: Mike Showalter, Crystal Carpenter, Terry Franklin, and Ms. Simon.

It was a very lively meeting that lasted much longer than PTA meetings are normally. Parents asked numerous questions about the PTA budget and how it is meant to be spent; oversight of students at recess and aftercare; and concerns about Ms. Cobbs visibility with parents; and of course, how the PTA works and what membership means.

One important change regarding PTA membership is that until now, Ludlow-Taylor's PTA has had family memberships rather than individual memberships. The DC-PTA President was in attendance at the meeting to answer questions about PTA, and informed us that we need to change our system to individual memberships so that every person who votes has a membership card.

Although you may have missed last night's meeting, it's not too late to get involved with the PTA. Now that there is a full Executive Board, the PTA will undoubtedly be planning many great activities for the school this year, as well as reaching out to increase membership and family participation. As Ms. Cobbs astutely pointed out last night, the PTA is what the members make of it. We haven't had the most active PTA at Ludlow-Taylor in recent years, but we can change that and make it a driving force to support Ms. Cobbs efforts to make Ludlow-Taylor the best school on Capitol Hill. (And although I hope we all join the PTA, remember that you don't have to be a paid member to attend meetings or participate on committees or in school-related activities.)

Hope to see you all at the next meeting on Dec. 8!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holy Cow, We successfully had PTA elections!

Last week I wrote about William Ludlow and posted a photo of his grave at Arlington Cemetery. Coincidentally, one of his permanent neighbors in section 3 is United States Army Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert. Tonight we had our PTA meeting and I was reminded of his contribution to public meetings. While living in New Bedford, MA he found himself frustrated by the fact that he couldn't effectively control a church meeting for a local Baptist Church. In response he wrote Robert's Rules of Order for Deliberate Assemblies.
I would STRONGLY urge anyone on any public board to familiarize themselves with this book. Our local ANC uses them and anyone who doesn't enjoy endless disorganized meetings should consider their adoption.
That said, after an excruciating amount of time at tonight's PTA meeting we actually accomplished a lot.
A member of the DC PTA answered some questions.
Bylaws are decided by the National PTA though there is some tweaking by the individual PTAs. Each parent pays dues and each parent gets a vote. The DC PTA can help us establish our non-profit status.
These were the biggies. If anyone else remembers more of them, feel free to post.

We held elections and I must say I couldn't be happier about the positions that were filled. Although I don't know the full names of each person elected, I do have at least their last name:

Mr. Michael Showalter (Child in Pre3)
Ms. Simon
Mr. Franklin
Ms. Carpenter

Mr. Allard (Child in Pre3)

Ms. Nadine Henderson (Child in Pre3)

Financial Secretary
Ms. Stephanie Mullette (Child in Pre3)

Each person elected expressed enthusiasm and an interest in organization. I personally asked each of the new members how they felt about future meetings. Each expressed a desire to adhere to a tighter agenda and keep the meeting concise. YEA!!!

There is a spot for a community member on the LSRT however it is chosen by those members of the LSRT and not an elected position. Anyone interested can contact me or any of us listed on the LSRT or the Principal, Ms. Cobbs.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who the heck was Ludlow?

Rachel Klein and I have been planning our first Open House, which I'm proud to say has been scheduled for November 24th at 6:30pm and posted on the DCPS website. It's been a fun distraction from everything else but one thing has been bugging me ever since I started taking an interest in our school--Who the heck is Ludlow? So a couple of weeks ago I took the time to make a couple of trips downtown to find out.
Let me start by saying that DCPS has a wonderful rich and interesting history that not many people take the time to learn of. You can find out many things by visiting the DCPS Archives which is located in the old M Street School/Sumner School at 17th and M, NW across the street from the headquarters of National Geographic. This building has a rich history of it's own. Historically, some of the teachers tie directly into our local and national civil rights movement and reach all the way back to the end of the Civil War and the abolition of Slavery…but that's a completely different subject.
For whom was our school named? According to Wikipedia, William Ludlow was a Major General in the Civil War, fought in the Spanish-American War and led a scientific exploration examining the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park. I love how written history can often sum up something extraordinary like "led a scientific exploration examining the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park" into such a quick phrase that it almost seems an after thought. What an exciting adventure that must have been.
Believe it or not, he actually shows up in a very famous film. We were all just too blinded by the stardom of Brad Pitt to remember that the father character played by Anthony Hopkins in Legends of the Fall was William Ludlow--though the screenplay seems to have taken some creative license regarding his rank and time of death.
However it is for none of these reasons that our school is named for him. It is for one small line in his bio that his name graces our school's doors. "During 1886-88 was Engineer Commissioner of Washington, D.C." This is important to us as Washingtonians because it reminds us of the ridiculous lack of representation in the nation's capitol and the bizarre and varied forms of city governance. After the controversial tenure of Boss Shepherd, congress abolished the short lived territorial government of Washington DC in favor of a three-member Board of Commissioners, which remained in charge of the District for over a century. As school's were constructed in the nation's capitol, the board named them after presidents of the United States. Once they ran out of these names, they turned to the names of city commissioners. William Ludlow only had the job for two years and even then he was only one of a set of three that simultaneously held that position. Thank goodness he went on to do some other interesting things.
After finishing a recent tour of Arlington Cemetery I hiked over to Section 3. Section 3 is one of the more prestigious sections of the cemetery. There are quite a number of famous names in United States Army History on the headstones found in that section, Walter Reed, Daniel Sickles, Vinnie Ream (Hoxie), Thomas Selfridge and would-be
President William Rosencrans to name a few. Among the headstones of all of these stands the tall stone cross that marks the grave of Major General William Ludlow.
Our school was built three years after his death in 1901. His exciting life and short connection to our city obviously made him an excellent candidate for the naming of a school though few know of him now.

For a full bio of William Ludlow, try these links. There are several on the web.
Wikipedia Bio
Unofficial Arlington Cemetery

Tuesday, October 27, 2009