Powell ES Principal Docal leaving this summer

Powell Elementary Principal Janeece Docal just sent an email that she is leaving the school this summer. She started at Powell 6 years ago and helped turn a failing elementary school into an example of what a successful school can do (just ask President Obama, who visited the school last year). She's done amazing things for Powell, and was recognized as the Principal of the Year recently.

Docal is moving back to Spain to be with her husband's family, as her father-in-law is not well. In her email, she discussed the process for finding a new principal that involves the parents:

"DCPS facilitates the placement of principals with great care and community input. To that end, Instructional Superintendent Dr. LaKimbre Brown, and Mark Donnelly, the DCPS Director of Principal Recruitment and Selection, will meet in the cafeteria on Thursday, April 30 at 8:10 am with our faculty and staff and at 9:00 am with parents and community members. Together they will explain the process for forming a panel representative of our parents, faculty, staff, and community to engage in the process of interviewing principal candidates. We will have additional meetings at 6pm on April 30th and 9am on Friday 1st to process and form the panels (childcare will be provided on May 1st at 9am). Please know I am committed to working closely with my successor throughout the transition period and will love to visit when back in DC!"

Principal Docal's full email is below. Considering how long the email is, I'm sure this was not an easy decision for her.

She will be very missed.

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April 24, 2015

Dear Powerful Powell Family and Community:

“If you believe in something and have a passion for it, you have to stand up for it. And you have to be persistent, no matter how long it takes.” I shared this quote by Eleanor M. Josaitis, cofounder and the executive director of Focus: Hope, a Detroit-based civil and human rights organization, in January when I proudly accepted the Excellence in Leadership award on behalf of the Powell family. I am sharing it again with you today, as I have been reflecting on the moments and people that have shaped me at Powell and DCPS and the loving work we have been passionate and persistent about, and because of that loving work, the recent very hard decision that this will be my last year as principal of Powell Elementary School.

When I started at Powell six years ago, this was a very different school. For six years, together we pushed forward, we persevered, we got stronger. From a school in restructuring and failing status, we are now a school on the move and on the rise. Our passion and persistence are at the heart of our growth and success. It was not easy, and it did not happen overnight, but I am and will always be very proud of what we made possible together. To quote another barrier breaker, Althea Gibson, “No matter what accomplishment you make, someone helped you.” And we did this together.

For 16 years, I have worked for DC Public Schools in the Columbia Heights and Petworth community as a policy advocate, an intern, teacher, department chair, assistant principal, and principal -- and you are my family. Thank you for welcoming me and supporting me. As you know, I have had a long distance marriage as I am committed so much to the work with DCPS and Powell and in February, our daughter Celia was born. This summer, my husband Aser, baby Celia, and I are moving temporarily back to Spain to tend to Aser’s ailing father, who has been ill for quite some time. I am remaining active in the DCPS system and taking an educational leave of absence to finish my doctorate, and to be with my daughter, husband, and father-in-law. This decision to move was not one we made lightly but we know it is what is right at this time.

Our intention is that we will come back to DC and DCPS. Until then, please know, there would never be an easy time to leave Powell because I will never actually leave Powell—“you never really leave a place you love. Part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind.” This place and the Powell family are my family too. I will not ever fully be able to thank you and express my sincere gratitude to this community. As a team, we changed the conversation in Petworth and we started a new dialogue together as a school, a community, and a city. From not enough rooms to expansion and modernization — planting new trees, installing two new playgrounds with the Washington Capitals hockey team, a new habitat garden with the USDA, installing two speed bumps in front of the school, piloting recycling and composting for DCPS, to a multi-million dollar expansion and full modernization.

And let’s not forget about just exactly what we did together: In 2010, there were 211 students at Powell. Now, we have 450 and next year over 500 students. President Obama visited us and celebrated our high quality early childhood program, so much so that staff are now taking leadership to apply for NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation. We have visited over 80 percent of our families’ homes and even more families participate in our Academic Parent Teacher Team Meetings. Parents have formalized our POPPS (Parents Organized for the Power of Powell) and started a non-profit. Powell too has its own non-profit arm in coordination with our law firm partner, Perkins and Coie. In six years, student achievement grew by double digits across the board in reading, math, composition, science and text to reading comprehension. Increasing their life chances is what our work is all about – the love of the children. Student satisfaction nearly doubled. When I started here, only 50% of our students liked school. Now, 91% do, 98% of the students that enroll with us remain throughout the year, and 94% re-enroll. Attendance is nearly perfect at 96%. We have won the Rising Star Award and second place National Dual Language School of the Year. Staff have taken on teacher leader roles and leaders from our administrative team have gone on to lead their own schools as principals. Various schools and partners have visited Powell and videotaped our work. We are having a ripple effect. It is because of you.

I am confident Powell is in a terrific place for the next leader to take the helm and know that a new principal can set a vision for the next phase of the Powell story. We have a truly exceptional staff; engaged scholars and involved parents; strong supportive community partners; a living and rigorous portfolio-based curriculum; a clear vision, mission, and charge; and, plenty of work to do in service of our amazing students! I am working closely with our staff to ensure our last eight weeks of school are marvelous learning experiences for all of our students while preparing for the 2015-2016 school year with long range planning and recruitment and selection of new staff. We are also eagerly planning for the modernization of wing B “original Powell” and the expansion of wing C.

DCPS facilitates the placement of principals with great care and community input. To that end, Instructional Superintendent Dr. LaKimbre Brown, and Mark Donnelly, the DCPS Director of Principal Recruitment and Selection, will meet in the cafeteria on Thursday, April 30 at 8:10 am with our faculty and staff and at 9:00 am with parents and community members. Together they will explain the process for forming a panel representative of our parents, faculty, staff, and community to engage in the process of interviewing principal candidates. We will have additional meetings at 6pm on April 30th and 9am on Friday 1st to process and form the panels (childcare will be provided on May 1st at 9am). Please know I am committed to working closely with my successor throughout the transition period and will love to visit when back in DC!

In the spirit of partnership between family and school, parents and guardians, I ask that you share this news with your children. Each of them are very dear to me and I am happy to discuss my news with them, but I would appreciate them hearing it from you first.

As always my door is open and should you have any questions, concerns, worries, or wonders (or friends in Spain), please do not hesitate to call me at 202-671-6270 or email me at janeece.docal@dc.gov or jcdocal@gmail.com.

In closing, I want to share one more quote, this one by Susan Piver – what she says about motherhood is how I feel about the principalship and my love for the students at DCPS. “The path of motherhood like a principalship has a beginning, but no end. It’s constantly changing and constantly challenging. Along the way, we encounter our personal limits over and over. We fall in love over and over. We ride the sharp edge of hope and fear. On this path of discovery, as on any spiritual path, our pretensions are shattered, our minds are blown, and our hearts are opened. We cry, we laugh, we bumble around and make countless mistakes. Through it all, we are gently—or abruptly—poked into greater honesty, loving-kindness, and understanding. It is a truly joyful path…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. [WE] turn ourselves inside out, and then let go.”

Go forth and make it happen Powerful Powell!

With Love, Janeece Docal"

from Petworth News April 24, 2015 at 06:55PM

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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