7 Questions with DC Bilingual’s Head of School, Daniela Anello
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s blog. It is printed below and translated with their permission.
DC Bilingual is the best bilingual school in the city and it didn’t happen overnight. I joined the DC Bilingual community in 2009 as the school’s first full-time literacy coach and curriculum developer. At that time, test scores were 30% proficient or advanced using the DCCAS state test in reading and 3% in math. After the school’s implementation of a rigorous bilingual literacy teaching model, teacher coaching, and improving its hiring process the school’s scores have dramatically improved.
Please click to view our gains in Math and ELA (English Language Arts) in the 2015-2016 PARCC and CLASS.
This year (2016-2017), we have also been ranked a Tier 1 School. This amazing achievement ranks DCB among the top 10 highest-performing elementary charters in the city and in the top 25% of the District’s 73 tiered charter schools.
DC Bilingual received an overall score of 75.3 — a 13-point gain from our previous score and a clear indication of our continued student-centered, academically-driven teaching approach. (View full report here).
DCPCS awards Tier rankings 1 through 3 based on evaluations of the School Quality Report. This report compiles information on each charter including re-enrollment, attendance, achievement and growth in PARCC and achievement in the PreK assessment, CLASS. Our incredible gains in Math and ELA (English Language Arts) in the 2015-2016 PARCC and CLASS, are directly responsible for our Tier 1 ranking.
What exciting change or innovation is on your mind?
We are a school of continuous improvement. This means we are always working hard to improve our school systems and programmatic offerings. My current projects include overseeing a major building renovation project to provide our students and families with a state-of-the-art learning facility, and designing our internal before and after school program supporting enrichment opportunities for all students and a seamless transition from academic time to after school time.
Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)? Do you have a hero?
People who inspire me to work hard and keep a clear vision of what can be made possible, regardless of how difficult it may seem to accomplish are my heroes. My teaching hero is Lucy Calkins. I learned from her what it means to set a high bar for what students can accomplish in their reading lives as writers and devoted readers. She also taught me the power teachers hold in controlling how much students accomplish by believing in students capacity, setting a high bar for student learning and by being life-long readers and writers themselves.
What was your most interesting recent project/partnership?
Renovation project is by far the most exciting! Very rarely does a school leader get to also decide what they want the building facility to look like for their students, staff and families now and for many years to come. I have really enjoyed dreaming big, and thinking creatively about how to make our school vision and mission come to life in physical spaces.
What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces (besides finances) and how are you dealing with this challenge?
The greatest challenge I face is making sure that words, actions and decisions are well understood by all stakeholders. In an organization with so many people, in a wide range of roles where decisions must be made quickly, it is important to ensure everyone understands why certain things are decided and the outcome of the decisions. It works best when the communication is clear, and people are working together to to achieve the school mission.
What advice do you have for other people in your position?
Be highly visible and inspirational, communicating the vision and mission of the school relentlessly, while building trusting relationships with adults and students.
What’s next/coming up for you?
My position as Head of School is always changing and growing. In this role I can never think that what we have currently achieved is ‘enough.’ The needs of our students grow daily as does my responsibility to DCB’s students and community. That is what makes this position so rewarding and engaging. While there are repeatable tasks I do each and every day, there is always a newness to what I do each day. To answer, what is next? I will continue to work with our community to continue DCB’s legacy of excellence and make sure we are meeting the needs of our community and students