My son's teacher is very supportive of him and actively reaches to the parents for support.
The principal is new, and she too is open to ideas to foster a better school environment.
The PTA is very active and committed.
My son has great friends, and has bonded with all classmates.
In the 2015-2016 school year, Shepherd ES hosted an astronaut at its school; visited the U.S. Supreme Court and met with Chief Justice Roberts; and have competed in science fairs hosted by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
Just know that there are different philosophies employed at other schools that are more nurturing.
At some DCPS schools, you may find both the principal and vice principal greeted every family at 8 AM every day.
The suggested PTA donation is $180/year per family. Some don't even both to give that much. Some schools ask 2-10 times that amount from their parent families in part because the money can supplement the school curriculum.
Lastly, I have seen too many parents act like teenagers who simply do not follow rules.
This includes the following: parking in the public crosswalk;
parking their cars and blocking the alleyway used by residents;
parking a car with a pit bull inside, but the window fully down to intimidate pedestrians (no kidding);
clogging up the drop off/pick up lanes by parking their car;
PK 3 and PK 4 parents (the most coveted neighborhood spaces) arriving in cars with Virginia and Maryland tags;
and finally, parents who do not pay for after care, yet routinely leave their children at the school until 6 PM.
This neighborhood deserves better.
You will see what I mean. The school emphasizes "no bullying" but that is not evident that it works. Also, they punish the kids at recess, which (again at other DCPS schools) some schools consider an important classroom activity as any other curriculum.
Supplies were requested from all parents at the beginning of the year. Day 1, I could see which parents brought supplies and which simply showed up. Almost 200 school days later, you get to know those who just show up. The kids, in this class, kept breaking the pencils in part because they were afraid that others would take and that they, themselves, would be without any pencils or pens.
Having been at Shephard ES for 5 years now, the school continues to grow into its IB program and parent engagement. I love the way the school teaches and encourages critical as well as creative thinking to prepare our children for the global economy. My oldest is currently in Middle School and has thrived from day one. I believe that Shepherd had a lot to do with it. My middle child, who is an introvert, decided to run for a student government office and was encouraged by his teacher and administration. Finally, my youngest, who is in Kindergarten, has grown leaps and bounds in learning to read.
My family is now in our second year at Shepherd ES. Both of DC's teachers have been friendly, but very firm, regarding their academic expectations and classroom management styles. They created an environment where hard work and success were rewarded and they even allowed a little scholarly competitiveness to develop among the top students. The IB curriculum has been implemented wisely and DC has enjoyed all of the projects that have been assigned. I'd give school management a solid 'B' grade. All of our paperwork has been processed w/o issue. The principal is not going to knock your socks off with an inspiring speech but she keeps the trains running on time. PTA leaders and active parents are helpful and more than willing to welcome new families into the community. Overall, we are very pleased with Shepherd ES and we are so happy to have a resource like this in our community, especially since we can walk to school instead of commuting a long distance. Before we enrolled, we heard lots of mixed reviews about the school, but we are happy to report than the negative comments were either unfounded or the issue they described has been addressed.
We did a TON of research into schools last year. Although our child was accepted at a nearby private, we decided to try Shepherd--we reasoned that the test scores were good and rising, the IB model was innately appealing, the feeders were some of the best in the city (Deal Middle and Wilson H.S.), and we liked the idea of supporting our neighborhood school. I am so glad we did. More and more young families in the area seem to be choosing Shepherd, so our daughter's PK3 class definitely has a "neighborhood" feel--she already knew several children in her class from the neighborhood playground, which made the transition even easier. She loves her teachers, and has made lots of new friends already. We also like that the school is quite diverse--some parents are Washingtonians born and bred, while others are international families. Finally, we were pleasantly surprised by the high level of parental engagement--on a recent field trip to the Smithsonian Discovery Theater, almost all of the children in the class had a parent chaperone on the trip. In short, Shepherd is a great choice for our family, and we look forward to coming years as our daughter matriculates through.