Elena Bell (Photo via John H. Vanderpoel Elementary School)(Updated at 8:35 a.m. Friday) Peabody and Watkins elementary schools on Capitol Hill will have a new principal for the 2015-2016 school year.

Elena Bell, the principal of a Chicago elementary school, will take the helm of Peabody and Watkins of the Capitol Hill Cluster School June 29, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced yesterday. The Capitol Hill Cluster School includes the two elementary schools and Stuart-Hobson Middle School.

She will succeed Dawn Clemens, who became principal of all three schools in 2011. Clemens will continue to serve as principal of the middle school.

“Ms. Bell is excited to meet all of you, and I hope you will give her your warm welcome and support as she leads your children toward success,” Henderson wrote in a letter to parents.

Bell has led John H. Vanderpoel Elementary School in Chicago since 2012. She also served as the resident principal of E. Dunne Technology Academy in Chicago and the Edward Devotion School in Brookline, Mass. She began her career in education as a second grade teacher in Atlanta.

Photo via John H. Vanderpoel Elementary School


Alecia Haughton-Francis receives her award (Photo via Twitter/DCPublic Schools)

Three teachers at Amidon-Bowen, Ludlow-Taylor and Peabody elementary schools won an honor yesterday (Monday) that was given to just seven teachers citywide.

Music teacher Para C. Perry of Amidon-Bowen, fourth grade teacher Alecia Haughton-Francis of Ludlow-Taylor and kindergarten teacher Rachel Houghton of Peabody each received Excellence in Teaching awards from the District Public Schools, plus a $10,000 prize.

Francis, who has taught at the 659 G Street NE school for 16 years, said her philosophy is to partner with her students during the learning process.

“I really love to see children come into their own and become great thinkers and doers,” she told DCPS. “Though I am the teacher in this relationship, I see myself more as a partner who teaches and learns alongside my students.”

All of Francis’s fourth graders improved by at least two reading levels last school year, DCPS said.

“She tutors during her lunch, her planning period and many days after school for free,” Ludlow Taylor principal Debra Bell told Hill Now. “She has a standard of excellence in whatever she does.”

Perry told DCPS she promotes leadership and positive self-esteem at Amidon-Bowen, at 401 I St. SW. Her students can often be heard chanting “”If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention, for the time is now or never to make your dreams come true. You better wake up and pay attention.”

And Houghton told DCPS she wants to create lifelong lovers of literature at Peabody. She’s taught at the 425 C St. NE school for the past 11 years and focuses on positive reading experiences and social development.

Photo via Twitter/DCPublic Schools

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