Ward 7 welcomes four new principals in the 2018-19 school year. Three come to the younger students, including Neval Thomas, JC Nalle and Burrville elementary schools. H.D. Woodson High School also welcomes a new principal.
The principals emphasize their desire to work with teachers, students, families and community members to help build strong leaders. They set high standards and they have confidence that they can achieve them in partnership with the community.
Jamiee Trahan, Neval Thomas Elementary School
(650 Anacostia Ave. NE)
“My goal as principal is to ensure Thomas is a school environment that is welcoming, safe, and supportive for students in the Thomas community,” said Jamiee Trahan, the new principal at Neval Thomas Elementary School. “I want Thomas to be a place where families feel supported and their children are thriving in an academically rigorous environment.”
Trahan holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree from Trinity University. She started her career with DC Public Schools (DCPS) as an intermediate elementary teacher at Boone Elementary School (formerly Orr Elementary School).
After six years as a teacher, Trahan became an instructional coach at Boone to help enrich instruction in grades K-5. Since 2015, she has served as an assistant principal at Boone.
“I’m excited that over the next few weeks we will engage and deepen partnerships with our families during home visits through our partnership with the Flamboyan Foundation,” said Trahan. Flamboyan is a private family foundation that invests to improve public education.
She believes the most important first steps in moving a school toward proficiency are creating an aligned vision and mission, systems and protocols that lead to high expectations and an instructional model with rigorous goals. “Our team is committed to ensuring our families and the community have the opportunity to connect with us,” said Trahan.
Jake Lappi, JC Nalle Elementary School
(219 50th St. SE)
“Parents need to know that their principal is willing to listen to them,” said J.C. Nalle Elementary School Principal Jake Lappi. “I am committed to ensuring our Nalle community can connect and share its hopes and dreams for the school and the community with me.”
Lappi holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and an executive masters in leadership from Georgetown University. He became resident principal at Nathaniel Alexander Elementary School in 2011, transitioning into the role of assistant principal in 2012 at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before relocating to the District of Columbia as the principal of Achievement Preparatory Academy in 2015.
Nalle was chosen as one of education nonprofit Empower K12’s 2018 Bold Schools of Improvement, 10 schools whose PARCC scores indicate they are closing the achievement gap. “As the school goes through a transition in leadership, I will work closely with the teachers and leaders in the building to ensure that we lock in those practices that have allowed us to show so much growth, especially with our students furthest from opportunity,” he said.
Lappi said that community schools are powerful ways to support families and students beyond the school day and help students develop their strengths and talents. “We are building leaders one student at a time at Nalle, and that means providing students with opportunities to give back to their community and preparing them to positively influence society,” he said.
William Massey, H.D. Woodson High School
(540 55th St. NE)
“One of the most beautiful things to have watched thus far at Woodson is how our families, in both Ward 7 and the greater DC community, are ready and willing to come together for the benefit of our young people,” said H.D. Woodson High School Principal William Massey.
Massey said his team needs to ask the right questions to understand the needs and interests of family and community, building up the parent teacher organization (PTO), relationships with businesses and community groups and the bridges between the two.
Massey holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Concordia University. He began teaching high school in Texas. He served as a principal fellow with Dallas Independent School District and held his first assistant principal post at Billy Early Dade Middle School in 2013 and at H. Grady Spruce High School. For the past three years he was principal at Cesar Chavez Schools for Public Policy.
Massey said the major goals at Woodson this year are to increase academic achievement for all students, improve the quality of the instructional program and ensure the learning environment is rooted in high expectations and is safe, supportive and engaging for all stakeholders.
Woodson will use technology and student data to inform teaching and learning, while improving the school climate by embedding social and emotional learning in the classroom.
“Working together makes us more resourceful for kids,” said Massey. “As a school community, we know the resources are there. We need to increase our awareness of them, ensure accessibility to them and analyze our results so that we may continue to grow from them.”
William Taylor, Burrville Elementary School
(801 Division Ave. NE)
Burrville Elementary School Principal William Taylor said that he is committed to increasing his visibility with families and staff to solidify their partnership in educating young people. “I am very eager to hear from the community on how we can strengthen our relationships,” he said.
Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Trinity University.
He has spent his entire career with DCPS, beginning at Kimball Elementary School in 2007. After four years teaching fifth grade, Taylor moved on to Wheatley Education Campus and also joined the faculty of the University of the District of Columbia as an adjunct math professor. Taylor joined Aiton Elementary School in 2014, where he has served for the last three years, and quickly moved into the role of assistant principal.
He said his team is focused on developing empowered and confident learners with skills that support their long-term success, incorporating social and emotional learning into all aspects of the curriculum. The school received a grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to begin using restorative circles, which he said will shape an approach to discipline and provide another venue for students to learn positive behaviors.
Building on gains in PARCC test scores last year, students will increase their understanding and engagement with tools to discuss their math lessons, Taylor said. Teachers will also use student data to inform daily instruction and guided reading to provide immediate feedback on reading and comprehension strategies.
Taylor created the position of family coordinator to lead monthly trainings, provide support to families, develop positive relationships and build bridges within the school community.
“I am committed to maintaining and setting high expectations for our entire Burrville community to ensure every student feels loved, challenged and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life,” he said.