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Aqueela James has grand ambitions for Roosevelt High School, where she will serve as principal starting this fall.
Most recently head of John Burroughs Education Campus—an elementary school focused on STEM instruction in Brookland—James will head north to the high school in Petworth to direct a new global-studies program for its several hundred students. Their education, as she envisions it, will drive students to “look at their community and beyond” through regional coursework as well as a dual-language program where half of classes will be conducted in Spanish and the other half in English. Students enrolled in the program could take Algebra in Spanish, for example.
The dual-language program is meant to be one among others, including at the elementary and middle school levels. In effect, D.C. Public Schools aims to create a pipeline of students who will continuously learn in Spanish: The ones who hope to move from one dual-language school to another will get priority, as is done for students with siblings.
“I’d like for the students to marinate in their thinking,” James says of her plans for global studies at Roosevelt. “To participate and understand what it means to become thinkers on different levels that are not just specific to D.C.”
About a third of Roosevelt’s current students identify as Hispanic/Latino; most of the rest as black. The school will also launch an “international academy” to meet the needs of recent-immigrant students. One already exists at Cardozo Education Campus, which saw the largest growth of immigrant students among any DCPS school in the 2013-14 academic year, according to a 2014 release. James says she hopes to mirror or even build upon its success.
“Global studies,” for the incoming principal, is expansive, including “cognitive, social, and emotional competencies” in addition to an emphasis on “creative thinking,” collaboration among students, and “inquiry-based instruction.” These values will likely translate to service projects at international festivals and internships in D.C., James notes.
“I want [my students] to see I operate as a life-long learner,” James says of her ambitions for the school. “I personally plan to learn Spanish and be at a place where, years down the road, I can be fluent. Our students are inspiring me.”
Students have until Feb. 1 to enroll at Roosevelt for next year. The school was the subject of 2014 City Paper cover.
Photo of Roosevelt High School courtesy of DCPS