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Update on Transforming Mt. Vernon Community School

— The transformation process for Mt. Vernon Community School began in April when Superintendent of Schools Dr. Morton Sherman appointed T. C. Williams High School Executive Associate Principal Peter Balas to lead that process. Balas assumed his responsibilities as Mt. Vernon’s principal on May 3.

Since then, Balas has filled 20 staff vacancies, reaffirmed his commitment to the dual language program and decided to take more time to evaluate the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.

Mt. Vernon staff will focus on improving math and reading scores at all levels. The math team has worked with Cora Kelley staff and ACPS Curriculum and Instruction staff to develop a plan for math instruction. The 75-minute daily math block will be filled with strategies that strengthen both math and literacy skills. MVCS math teachers will begin training on the cycle of continuous improvement, which has been implemented at Cora Kelly.

The reading team chose Success For All, a research-proven program that is designed to address the needs of all students.

Teachers will continue to train on the latest version of the ACPS curriculum. This will be the strategy used for teaching science, social studies and writing. There will be a Spanish literacy block for students enrolled in the dual language program, which is based on the approach used at Escuela Key in Arlington. Students who are not enrolled in the dual language program will be scheduled for language acquisition instruction.

The school will create a Family Welcome Center where families will have access to bilingual staff and the internet.

Mt. Vernon Community School is a K-5 school, located in the heart of Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. The school offers an English-Spanish dual language program and operates on a modified calendar. The school year begins Aug. 1, 2012 and ends in June 2013, with extended learning sessions in October and April. Students may participate in four weeks of Extended Learning Opportunities during the October and April Breaks.

Student enrollment for the 2011-12 school year was 713: 8 percent African-American; 1 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian; 57 percent Hispanic; 33 percent white; and 1 percent other. 41.2 percent of the students speak English as their second language and 59 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch through the federal School Nutrition Program.