August 2023

Friends of Ingenuity Prep,

We’re just a few short days into the 2023-24 school year and we couldn’t have started off better! Last week, we welcomed our more than 800 new and returning students with genuine joy to have students back in the building after summer break. And with that joy and care, we’ve launched the year – under the theme Rise of the PRIDE – with urgency for the many things we need to accomplish and with the rigor necessary for our students to reach even greater heights. Look out, because this year, Ingenuity Prep is on the rise once again!

As we’ve stepped into the fresh school year, we’ve rolled out a new literacy curriculum in Middle School, expanded our Responsive Classroom pilot from Elementary School to our Early Childhood and Middle Schools Academies, and we’re focusing instructionally on strengthening students’ written expression skills. Lastly – and with much fanfare – this year will be our first time competing against other schools as part of the DC Public Charter School Athletics Association. I couldn’t be more excited and, if the more than 50 students who showed up for Co-ed Flag Football try-outs this week tells you anything, our kids are enthusiastic about it too!

In the coming months, I look forward to updating you on the milestones we achieve and the stories that underline the difference your support is making. Here’s to a year ahead filled with opportunities, growth, and countless achievements!

My best,
Co-Founder and CEO

Educators, Not Just Teachers

This past June, Nilah Robinson walked across the graduation stage, in a packed auditorium filled with family, friends, and 60 of her peers, to deliver her speech — an honor she earned as class valedictorian. But that wasn’t always the trajectory she was on.

My daughter came to IP when she was just four years old. She had a big heart but no idea how to use it…

The IP community supported her as she discovered her big heart and all the good she could bring to the world.

After a troubling experience at Nilah’s previous school, mom enrolled her at IP, but she “had no trust” that the Ingenuity Prep community would be any better. Mom was pleasantly surprised:

From the moment my kid walked into IP, it felt like family. I felt how much she was loved, but I also felt how much I was loved… You all are EDUCATORS, not just teachers!

For 180 days out of the year for the last decade, Nilah has relied on the staff at IP every day to support and push her to her fullest potential. There were some hard times when she struggled to follow class rules and expectations as she went through elementary school.

At the same time, the IP community – especially Nilah’s teachers and principals – never ceased to show her love and encouragement. While she received plenty of championing at home, the IP community’s confidence helped her cultivate that same confidence in herself. She began to see what they saw: how much she could achieve in school and life if she prioritized her studies.

During the pandemic and the last few years of school, Nilah and her peers faced countless traumatic experiences that no child should ever have to endure, including the death of a schoolmate, classmate, or former teacher. She relied on the love and support from the IP community to navigate her mental health while starting to heal from these traumas.

Determined to be class valedictorian, Nilah – counted on enduring love and support from the IP community, especially Dr. Davian, Mr. Ben, and Mr. Brandon, during the hard times. They championed her every day – not just when she faltered. More than that, Nilah developed a few friendships that will surely last a lifetime.

As Nilah enters Bard High School Early College this fall, she and her family are increasingly confident that she will achieve great things.

Because of your dedication and love, my daughter can be that Astronaut Princess she wanted to be at four years old or the Biochemist she desires to be at 14. Your belief in her ability has allowed her to see beyond Southeast DC. So I thank you!

Resilience and Determination

Taylor – or TayTay – is a Kindergartener who has been with IP since preschool. She is resilient and determined to succeed. Despite challenges on her learning journey and home life, when Ms. Karen – her grandmother – drives TayTay to school and asks how excited she is, she never hesitates to say, “Very.”

As a preschooler during the pandemic, Taylor struggled to participate in virtual school. When TayTay returned to IP in person to grow, learn, and play, it became more apparent to her teachers that — to thrive — she would need more support than she was getting in the classroom. They were right, which Ms. Karen is grateful for:

You guys do a good job with that – you jumped right on it!

Taylor started blossoming as a student and leader with additional support, including speech therapy. When she gets home from school, she constantly sounds and taps out words, determined to learn them. As she gained confidence in speaking, she became more extroverted and made a few best friends. Taylor attended IP’s extended school year program for the first time this summer. “It was a big help,” said Ms. Karen. When it ended, and there was more summer until the school year started, TayTay waited in anticipation, eager to return.

Ms. Karen knows that Taylor’s teachers – along with Ms. Issa, Ms. Jasmine, and Ms. Martucci – will continue to provide “excellent support.” Ms. Karen knows that everyone at IP, from her educators to her peers and the school community, will continue encouraging and supporting Taylor on her learning journey.

With the proper support in place, we know Taylor’s resilience, determination, leadership skills, and love of learning will continue to shine, setting her up for success on the path to the college or career of her choosing.

Convenience, Communication, and Community

Donisha, a busy mom of six, was eager for the school year to arrive. Donovan – her oldest son and rising fifth-grader – is one of the newest IP’s Middle School Academy students, joining his sister D’Airah, who is entering eighth grade. Their brother, Savion, is in Kindergarten.

As the school year starts, Donisha is relieved because she knows her students will be in a safe community school surrounded by caring adults. Donisha is grateful for the convenience and communication and that her children – vital students of the IP community – are happy. She loves that they can bond with friends, meet new people, play, and, most importantly, learn.

Donisha knows that IP teachers and staff share her same goal: “Give them their own voice.” She knows our school community supports and encourages her students to be themselves, learn about people different from themselves, and advocate for themselves and their peers. Donisha also knows that IP students are always supported when they face challenges.

At IP, Donovan is honing his greatest strength: “Being brave.” “When I started the school year, I had trouble making new friends in my class.” After getting to know the teachers, he started to get to know other students, and the more new friends he made, the easier it became to make even more.

You need to have a lot of courage to get up and go and chat with other people and make friends. I started being confident and talking to more people and became friends with everyone in class.

IP is a community where students can be themselves and feel like they belong. Because of the kindness our teachers showed Donovan, he will thrive in our Middle School Academy. He looks forward to joining our basketball team and making even more friends this year.


Ms. Ashley Shaw

A Decade of Dedication

While we can calculate her tenure in years, Ms. Ashley’s impact on our students and community is immeasurable. As a native Washingtonian and one of IP’s first staff members, Ashley has played a critical role in launching our youngest students – our three-year-old pre-kindergarteners – on the path for lifelong learning.

Over the last ten years, she has developed relationships with hundreds of IP families in support of our students. During the eleven months students spend in her classroom, she sees our youngest students’ social and emotional skills grow by leaps and bounds. With Ashley’s help, her students start building friendships. They begin discovering who they are and how to manage their ‘big feelings.’

Her commitment to our youngest students stems from her identity as a mother: Ashley’s ‘infant-toddler’ Ameera inspired her to pursue a career in early childhood education long before she could talk. More than that, Ashley felt called to educate students who look like her. She wanted to support families in under-resourced communities facing historical and continued systemic inequities and injustices.

Filled with a passion for civic leadership and social and emotional learning, Ms. Ashley remains dedicated to serving her community inside and outside the school building. The skills she fostered in her students over the last decade have – and will continue to have – a profound impact on the opportunities available to them.

Today, Ameera is a teenager, and proud of her mom because she knows her mom is making a difference, not just in the lives of IP students and their families but in the lives of individuals and families across DC.

IP forever appreciates Ashley, her PRIDE, community contributions, dedication to the District and all the students who have entered her classroom over the years.

A quote from another IP educator says it all: “You are an exceptional leader, you inspire every team member and make sure we aim for the best.”

Thank you, Ashley, for all that you do!