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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Charter Founder: Emily Lawson, DC Prep

DC Prep founder Emily Lawson (center) with COO Wendy Scott (left) and CEO Rick Cruz (right)

One in an occasional series about DC charter school founders.

"Our Students Do Such Amazing Things"
Emily Lawson, DC Prep

The founding group, we worked on the application right up until the deadline and turned it in the afternoon it was due. I remember being worried about the page limit; were they really going to enforce it? And if so, which parts of which appendices did I need to cut? I asked then-PCSB Deputy Director Tamara Lumpkin a few questions and then made the final decision right there in the PCSB office, tearing out lots of pages from all the different copies of the application.


Soon after that PCSB issued a statement saying that its summer meeting had to be cancelled, so the decision on new charters for that year had to be pushed back by a full month. As you can imagine that was disappointing and frustrating. I went on vacation and while I was in the mountains, I went to the public library every day to check my email just in case something had changed.


Our group was optimistic about our chances, albeit nervous. When we got the green light to start DC Prep, we were elated and relieved.


After having our charter approved, I was so deeply invested and determined to get DC Prep off the ground that I didn't even have a moment of, "what have I gotten myself into?" because we were just ready to get going.


In comparison to back then, our DC Prep leadership team now is much wiser about how hard this work can be. We are also more determined than ever because we have seen our students do such amazing things. To use a phrase from President John F. Kennedy, we have become "idealists without illusions."


DC Prep was approved in 2003 and opened its first school, Edgewood Middle Campus in Ward 5 later that same year. Today, DC Prep serves preschool through eighth grade across three campuses in Wards 5 and 7, with a fourth campus set to open in Fall 2013. 

Posted by: Theola Labbé-DeBose at 6:30 a.m.
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