School Reviews

Watkins has so much potential, and a reputation for great teachers. Unfortunately it has seen a very large teacher turn-over rate in the 13-14 school year, with at least 18 teachers exiting in one year alone. There appears to be chaos in the Administration, which I hope it not making it's way to the students but gives me pause nonetheless.

A fantastic school on Capitol Hill in the heart of Washington DC, Watkins offers something for every child and we have happily sent all 3 of our daughters here since they were in first grade. The school is one of the larger elementary schools in the city and has a diverse student and teacher population. This good mix benefits all the children and helps foster a sense of community. I wont get into test scores, etc because some of that data can be misleading but I feel very confident that every student at the school is given many opportunities to succeed and to thrive. The school is fortunate to be located next to a full scale recreation center, so it has large turf fields, basketball courts, an outdoor skating rink and a large playground for different ages. It also has nice gardens on three sides - many of which are incorporated into the lessons.

Watkins Elementary is the 1st-5th grade program for the Capitol Hill Cluster School (pre-K through 8th grades). My son & daughter have been in the Cluster since pre-K (now in 6th & 8th grades) & I can say that our overall experience at Watkins Elementary was excellent. My children have had outstanding instructors each year who were excellent educators and caring adults. The teachers availed themselves of the opportunities being in DC provides--writing grants for special projects such as bringing in professional storytellers to help children find their voices, partnering with Target & the historic Ford's Theater as part of their Civil War curriculum giving our kids the opportunity to recite Lincoln's speeches from the Ford's Theater stage, regular field trips to the Smithsonian museums, monuments & local theaters, etc. To be perfectly honest, even in the odd year where we thought our child was assigned to a less desirable teacher, it turned out that teacher had something unique to offer our child that he really needed. Also our new principal has also been an advocate and agent for positive change in her 2+ years with the school! And we have a very active parent community!

Watkins ES has a history of high standards in terms of educating it's students. My children have grown and flourished at Watkins over the last 3 years. I love the fact that it's not a cookie cutter school. My children have had teachers that took time to get to know them and reach them at their levels to help them become critical thinkers and to love learning!

Watkins Elementary School is a diverse reflection of Washington DC. The greatest strengths are its strong teachers, solid leadership team, ability to offer specials like computers / technology, PE and Art, and the professional staff it dedicates to educate the lower tier of students. Under new leadership Watkins has seen great changes in the quality of the curriculum, the strength of the new hires, and the new options for enrichment and more challenging curriculum for the stronger students. There is a renewed commitment to literacy and math for all students. The PTA raises additional funds to make the large atmosphere feel smaller by funding aides, etc. Watkins certainly has its challenges, like most DC Public Schools, but on the whole, they are doing a great job of creating a strong learning environment.

Parents don't be fooled!!! The principal is preoccupied with promoting the Capitol Hill Cluster instead of making sure the children are receiving a challenging curriculum. Please do your research prior to enrolling your child/children into Watkins. I wouldn't be surprised if the August 22nd & August 23rd reviews were written by Watkins staff. I have not found one parent that felt this school lived up to its reputation. Find a better option if you want your child/children in a strong learning environment.

Watkins is a high-acheiving, diverse and community-based elementary school. With a fully-functioning garden and teaching kitchen, the FoodPrints curriculum is absolutely life-altering. My kids' diet changed dramatically for the better after a few FoodPrints classes. Watkins is one of the only Capitol HIll elementary schools with small class sizes. Last year, my second grader had 19 classmates. With a deep bench of experienced educators and support staff, children are able to learn and grow in a healthy, dynamic classroom environment. Watkins is the elementary portion of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools - preschool-K attend Peabody, 1-5 are at Watkins and 6-8 at Stuart Hobson Middle School. The parent communities at all three campuses are very strong - the Cluster-wide PTA raises more than $150,000 a year to support the school and the curriculum. Watkins student population is diverse, but geographically centered around Capitol Hill and surrounding neighborhoods. Kids' friendships and relationships extended beyond the classroom walls into neighborhood athletics and other activities.

My daughter has been going to this school since first grade. I have enjoyed thoroughly the adventures that her teachers have taken her through. She haves grown so much from the first grade to the fifth grade. I feel the staff is a great support team for the scholars and the parents. As the parents go on this journey of higher education with their scholars.

Thank you so much for your wonderful presentation on ABC News on January 17, 2011. You spoke with determination and care. You are an awesome group of people!! Thank you!!