Go to content

Principal: Maria Tukeva

DECEMBER 6, 2023:


How Might We Design Our Grading System so that Failure Leads to Learning?

As we continue our journey to becoming a design thinking school, opportunities for design appear every day.  How do we choose which opportunities to pursue?  There are several current opportunities for improvement that are important for student and staff success, we want to highlight them now to gain wide participation from staff, students, and families.

At the same time, we are implementing pilots that were designed last year, and tweaking them as we collect data on their impact and effectiveness.   Below is a summary of new sprints, and ongoing pilots.

Master Schedule Redesign Sprint
How might we design a master schedule that creates a sense of belonging and success for all students and staff?

We continue to hear feedback from students, and staff on the A day B day schedule, and will be working on tweaks and adjustments we can make in the second semester.  We are excited to announce we have received 200,000 in funding from DCPS Office of Teaching and Learning to conduct further research and engage in a full design process to refine the schedule for Advisory 2, and completely redesign our master schedule for next year.  In this redesign we will be able to pilot some changes, within guardrails,  that will respond to the design criteria we developed in last year’s master schedule design sprint.

Grading System Redesign Sprint
How might we implement a grading system that is consistent across the board and is aligned to learning and success for all students?

In looking at First Advisory grades, talking with students and teachers, and reviewing gradebooks, we have seen that there is a need to create a consistent and coherent grading system that provides frequent feedback to student on mastery of learning, and provides opportunity for growth and feedback.  We will kick off a design sprint in ALT this coming week. Please join!

School wide Youth Voice and Choice Design Sprint
How might we involve all students in decision making and design thinking?

In inviting students to be a part of our decision making processes,  we want to make sure we are reaching those students who are not as likely to participate.  One of the sprints that has focused on this is our Camp Horizons Youth Leadership Sprint.  As a follow up to the experiential camping experience. The group of 45 students and 15 staff will continue their design work on Wednesday, December 5, as they design  prototypes to enhance the environment, processes, and possibilities at CHEC for greater belonging for students.  We look forward to sharing some of those ideas next week.


Staff Wellness Sprints
How might we respond to staff needs for wellness and self-care?

The Mental Health Team is facilitating a sprint to design ways to increase staff wellness and self-care. If you are interested in joining, see Ms. Cates-Bristol or Ms. Hanlon.  One aspect of that sprint will be  to redesign the Staff Lounges to make them more welcoming, attractive and responsive to staff needs.


Community Development Pilot

All students at CHEC are required to do 100 hours of community service.  Often, students have difficulty deciding what to do for service, and where to do it.  Our Social Issues Class is focused on having students assessing their communities’ needs, and determining a topic they want to explore deeply in order to engage in service learning.  During the PBL training, Mr. Bellido designed this project such that the students in the class will hold a Community Service Fair to engage their classmates in service.

Advisory Pilot

The Admin Team reviewed all feedback on Advisory given by staff and students so far, and have recommended the following next steps:

  • Student feedback is needed by grade level (having students come into SLC to provide feedback)
  • Increase in flex days/time for teachers to check in with students
  • Walkthroughs of Advisory to observe implementation and get feedback in real time from teachers/students
  • Each day with a different theme is making advisory disjointed and difficult to get a rhythm around a topic –  consider focusing on a theme for a week or two
  • Use one SLC meeting per month to work on/practice Advisory Curriculum
The full report of our work is here ..\CHEXQ 23-24\Advisory Redesign Results and Next Steps.docx  We will be surveying students, and SLC’s will provide time to reflect on the curriculum and implementation of the Advisory pilot.           

Co-Designed PBL Pilot

Congratulations to our Project Based Learning pilot teachers for building projects with authentic audiences and compelling driving questions as part of our focus on meaningful engaged learning for all students.  We now have 16 teachers implementing this enhanced approach to designing and implementing projects.  On December 7, we will engage in a Design Day focused on Deeper Learning, and will share and tune one of our project based learning units with other high schools who are redesigning, in order to get feedback.


As we continue Advisory 2, it is important to continually reinforce and practice norms, by reflecting with students on how well we are upholding them as a community.  We are starting to see more students out of class without passes, and this is a reflection on how well students are owning their learning and showing dependability.  When students are out of class without  a clear purpose, it is difficult to maintain a safe and productive environment.  Please take time this week to discuss the norms, and to emphasize the importance of being in class.

It is also important to utilize the color-coded passes. If you need another one, please let the culture team know. You have received information from the Culture  team on these initiatives, as well as how our Culture team will support all staff in maintaining a positive culture.  The norms have been discussed in detail in Advisory over the first four weeks, and it is important to continue to use the language of the norms throughout the school year, in a co-regulatory fashion.


  • Shout out to the whole CHEC Team for  Fantastic Fourteenth Week of School!  
  • Shout out to Ms. Belton for all of her hard wo!rk in preparing us for Immunization – we have reduced the numbers and we have a plan for Monday
  • Shout out to Mr. Smith, Ms. Avila, Ms. Viapando, Ms. Corchado (8th grade parent), and all supported EdFest on Saturday!
  • Kudos to the team who attended the ISS Conference in San Antonio this weekend – Mr. Onley, Mr. Boone, Ms. Garcia, Mr. Odom and Mr. Jones!
  • Shout out to Mr. Odom and Mr. Smith for two Parent Open Houses last week!
  • Shout out to Ms. Garcia for coordinating a great visit from the Director of Office of the Director of National Intelligence  to talk with our students last week! Kudos to Ms. Pugh and Ms. Bryant for supporting!
  • Shout out to Ms. DelCid, Ms. Eslava, Ms. Gilmore and Mr. Odom working hard to completing most of our audit errors!  
  • Kudos to Ms. Bruemmer for her perseverance in making sure we reach our 95% goal of ANET administration!
  • Shout out to Mr. Boone for intervening in a conflict on Thursday near the Metro- shout out to all who responded and supported!
  • Shout out to Mr. Williams and Mr. Padilla for consistently handling and documenting incidents!
  • Shout out to Ms. Pugh for crunching our Grade Data! Shout out to Mr. Athmer in supporting the analysis! Shout out to the ALT team for leaning into our grade analysis and coming up with a plan!
  • Shout out to Ms. Pugh and Ms. Penn for their work on the Master Schedule survey!
  • Shout out to Ms. Penn for conducting a focus group on Advisory!

Back to content