Rigorous academics and social-emotional education are at the heart of all we do; how these two elements translate into action across each of our campuses comprise The DC Prep Way.
For 20 years, we have prepared students to be successful in high school, college and beyond through high-quality standards-based instruction, ongoing progress monitoring, and tailored interventions.
Curriculum maps and scope and sequence documents aligned with nationally-recognized Common Core standards guide instruction at all campuses. Our instruction is designed to prepare students well for rigorous, college-prep high school learning.
DC Prep’s departmentalized approach to instruction in 3rd-8th grade allows teachers to focus their curriculum planning and lesson delivery on targeted curricular areas, which in turn provides students with expert instruction from the earliest years. Teachers develop daily lesson plans based on rigorous, vertically-aligned curriculum maps and draw upon recognized curricular resources to ensure mastery of appropriate standards.
Meaningful nightly homework reinforces classroom learning. Teachers are on call until 8:00PM each school night to assist students with homework questions and to talk with families.
We supplement our whole-group instruction with effective individualized instruction, informed by accessible, accurate, and actionable data we regularly collect and analyze. An individualized academic intervention program ensures that every student is being taught at the appropriate level, including those who may enter school significantly below grade level or those performing at or above grade level.
Our inclusion model promotes the integration of students with special needs in regular classrooms and activities, and promotes our teachers’ use of differentiation strategies that enable them to provide excellent instruction for all students.
Ongoing Progress Monitoring
Regular monitoring of student progress — using a range of nationally-recognized assessment tools, selected for their validity and developmental appropriateness — ensures an academic program that is tailored for every child.
Teachers reflect on data and instruction frequently, including during weekly professional development sessions led by campus-based instructional leadership teams and quarterly, post-interim “Data Days.”
We focus on a well-rounded experience to help develop a sense of responsibility and mindfulness of the community.
Intentionality and Purpose
We believe that children thrive in environments that are structured to be emotionally and physically safe. When our learning environments are structured and safe, they feel welcoming and joyful, and all students are able to get what they need out of their educational experience. This requires holding high standards for all that we do; we pay close attention to all aspects of student behavior including attendance, punctuality, and homework completion because we know that each of these elements is so important to long-term success.
Teachers are united in reinforcing the school values, our discipline approach, and the incentive system so that students receive clear and consistent messages about appropriate and productive behavior. Students wear the DC Prep uniform to reflect team and community values.
A Strong Sense of Community
A personal handshake each morning, daily homeroom community and advisory time, and monthly school-wide Community Meetings that celebrate individual classroom academic and character successes promote a shared culture and pride of place for all students.
Teachers invest deeply in fostering a tight-knit classroom community and getting to know each student really well – all teachers are assessed on their ability to create a classroom environment that is purposeful, productive, inclusive, safe, and equitable for all students. Students and their families often tell us that being part of the DC Prep community feels like being part of a family. Teachers feel this way, too – they love working with each other, and they feel connected to one another.
We believe that we can’t do this work without having shared expectations and aspirations between home and school – fostering a strong school/family partnership is essential. Teachers communicate with families on an ongoing basis regarding student progress, small wins, and areas of growth. All teachers are also available until 8:00 PM every evening to support with homework help. This parent/teacher teamwork helps us achieve the best outcome for every student.
We believe that children’s social-emotional learning is just as important as their academic learning; development in both areas is essential to succeeding in college-prep environments and becoming strong leaders in their communities. Strong social-emotional skills drive strong academic outcomes and, in turn, help students successfully navigate complex environments, advocate for themselves, and effectively leverage executive functioning skills to make good change in the world. This is why we invest significantly in social-emotional learning.
From the earliest years, Preppies are supported to develop Core Prep Competencies — the essential qualities of successful students and good leaders – which are adopted from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The Core Prep Competencies are: