By Tearsa Coates
After making DC home, my husband and I decided to adopt a set of siblings through the DC foster care system. And what a blessing they have been. However, as new adoptive parents of school-aged children, we had no idea how the DC school system worked. With the school year already underway, we did the best that we could with the time we had: we enrolled our son in the neighborhood school to which were zoned.
This traditional public school provided a nurturing environment and caring, dedicated teachers. Yet our son was not thriving there.
Our son was reading far below grade level and had never had consistent schooling. So we began our research to find a school that offered more structure and focused on academic performance. From online searches, recommendations from other parents, open houses, a school fair at the DC Armory, telephone calls, and more school visits, we created a list of options. We completed lottery applications for admission to our top choices. And, then we waited and hoped for good news.
Thankfully, good news came. Our son got into DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus. DC Prep stood out for us because of its focus on challenging academics, as well as personal responsibility, accountability, and character development. We felt that the school’s values aligned with our family’s values.
DC Prep stood out to us for another very specific reason: African Americans hold positions of leadership in their schools. As parents, we were adamant about wanting our children to see people who looked like them not only as classroom peers but also as school leaders. We knew our children would benefit from seeing, every single day, what is possible with a top notch education and we were certain that seeing themselves reflected in some of the adults in the building would help to build their confidence.
During our first year at DC Prep we didn’t stop our research around schools. On the contrary, we got smarter and more familiar with all of the school options in the city. We were able to do a better comparison of schools; however, for us, DC Prep remained our top choice. They had better results than other schools in areas that are critical for our family including access to teachers, top performance as shown by the objective metrics, and open communication with families about students’ behavioral and academic progress.
Choosing the school for our children was not just about education for us. Having choices was part of our adoptive journey. We chose to adopt two siblings. And as parents we feel that we contributed even more to our children’s lives by identifying their needs, examining the options, and choosing the educational setting that is best for them. For us, confidence in our children’s school helps to balance out the uncertainty that the world brings.
Strong school data is a big factor in our confidence in a school. We are proud that DC Prep campuses have been honored, once again, as Tier 1 schools by the DC Public Charter School Board. And we are grateful for all that the school gives to our children and to us.