Welcome, CHDS Alumni!
Whether you graduated last year or were one of our first graduates, you will always be an important part of the Capitol Hill Day School community. Below you will find information about alumni events, ways to get involved, and more. Contact Shannon Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We hope to hear from you soon!
Volunteer: There are many ways that you can support Capitol Hill Day School. Interested in speaking to a class about an area of expertise? Would you like to help at the Back to School Picnic, at an Admission Open House or serve on a School committee? Contact Shannon Ryan at email@example.com to get involved.
Fall High School Alumni Event (October)
We welcome our high school-aged alumni to join us on the 2nd Monday of October. Keep an eye on social media for details!
High School Forum (November)
High School alumni share their high school experiences during this helpful question and answer session with the current 8th Graders and their families.
Connect with Capitol Hill Day School
Over 30 post-college alumni connect with current and former Board of Trustees.
Founder's Day (January)
Join us — from near or far — for a day of service in January!
Capitol Hill Day School Spring Fundraiser
March 4, 2022: Celebrate the Capitol Hill Day School community at Hill Country Barbecue!
Gratitude to Capitol Hill Day School
I had the privilege to attend Capitol Hill Day School and to be part of the 6th grade class of 1973 - the inaugural graduates. In the decades that have passed, I have remembered my elementary education with a golden glow - caring, compassionate teachers, individualized education, hands-on learning, appreciation of diversity, experiential activities, the arts and music. The school was born out of the turmoil of the 1960’s with passion and energy - teachers and students were fully engaged in the art of learning. Field trips included the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, the Metro proto-type, art museums, hiking the Appalachian Trail and New York City…we went everywhere and that created excitement about learning. We grew plants in the garden and then incorporated them into cooking projects - learning was integrated and made sense.
Classmates were from all different areas in the District and different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Everyone was valued and everyone had ideas to contribute. Our teachers encouraged us to focus on areas that we could change - stewardship in the community and caring for each other. My family moved to San Diego in the summer of 1973. In those days of the rotary phone, I quickly lost connections to
Over the past 37 years, I have spoken frequently about the wonderful education I received as a child. On Election Day 2010, I was once again waxing poetic about CHDS and my husband suggested that I look on the internet and see if the school still exists. It was unbelievable to find the website and to truly feel that I have located my ‘home’; the place where my window on the world was nurtured and the power of critical thinking was developed. With crystal clear hindsight, many of the choices that I have made are a direct reflection of the core values of empathy, tolerance and compassion that were instilled at CHDS.
In 2002, I returned to the workforce as a Head Start teacher and I strived to recreate the memories I have of CHDS – hands-on experiential learning and a school environment that is welcoming and enriching.
Thank you Capitol Hill Day School. I am truly a product of the school and have great appreciation and gratitude for the parents who founded the school and the teachers who created an amazing place to learn. I had no idea, as I left CHDS with the inaugural class of 1973, that my passion, my beliefs and my core values had been formed on the stage of a Church hall. I do now and I would like to say a sincere thank you.
A letter from Denise Stroud
Several weeks ago, I was idly Googling some of the schools I once attended, and landed on the Capitol Hill Day School web site. I fondly remembered my time at CHDS which was so long ago, in fact, it was before the school moved to its current site. The old school location was just across the street from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in the building of a local church and I remembered that we would spend the occasional recess playing on the grounds of the Capitol building, across the street from the Supreme Court (largely oblivious to the governmental goings on that surrounded us). There’s something magical about telling that story to people today, despite it seeming so mundane to us as children.
Attending second and third grades at CHDS afforded me my first experience with independent schools. My family struggled financially, and the opportunity to attend CHDS would mark the beginning of a better education, and a better life for me. So despite the long city bus ride from my home in Anacostia, to Capitol Hill, I understood even at age seven, that my chances would be better here than attending my local public school.
More than three decades later, I have attended boarding school, lived in Europe for almost a decade, worked for an investment bank for many years, and can say that I have certainly taken advantage of many of the opportunities I have encountered. CHDS set me on the path towards a fulfilling life, one of travel, growth, and challenge. There were even relationships that grew from those years, from teachers who became family friends, to childhood classmates who would reappear years later as friends of folks I met along the way.
The choice to attend CHDS would prove pivotal to my later educational opportunities and my subsequent choices in life and career. The ability to attend was made possible through financial aid, and I am eternally grateful that financial support was extended to my family. It is my hope that CHDS will continue to offer families in need financial assistance, so that deserving youngsters may realize their potential.
With much appreciation,
Denise Stroud (attended ’77-’79)
It all started with a song…
Laura Wides-Munoz (1987) attended Capitol Hill Day School through 5th grade, and was part of the School when it moved from two church basements to the Dent building. Recently, she contacted CHDS to try to reconnect with her CHDS 4th grade teacher, Kafi Robinson, which led to an explosion of emails from CHDS “alum” faculty and staff, including Betsy Barnett, Barbara Keeling, and Gerry Seedyke. Here is Laura’s report on her reconnection with her 4th grade teacher:
I've long remembered this song we learned back in the early 1980s, when I was in 4th grade at Capitol Hill Day with Kafi Robinson Berry, or Ms. Robinson as we called her. It was this catchy tune that just stuck, an alphabet song with every letter linked to a famous black American. "A is for Armstrong. Louie was his name. Playing the trumpet - that brought him fame." And so it went.
Now that my kids are 6 and 7 years old, I decided it would be fun to find the song and teach it to them, but at this point, I could only remember a few letters. I tried Googling it but found nothing. That's when I got in touch with Capitol Hill Day School to find Kafi and see if she still knew the song. Eventually, CHDS found her number, thanks to the efforts of Gerry Seedyke, Barbara Keeling and Barbara Barnett (also mom to one of my oldest CHDS buddies, Jordan Barnett ‘87). Kafi didn't appear to have a Facebook page, so I contacted her old-school style and left a long and rambling message.
Weeks went by and then out of the blue one afternoon, I got a call from Kafi. It turns out she'd been so excited when she heard my message that she accidentally erased it and had to do some sleuthing of her own to find me. We had a wonderful conversation, reminiscing about Capitol Hill Day School in the 1980s, and about the challenges back then of creating a racially and socioeconomically inclusive community for students and teachers. She couldn't remember the song, but it was fascinating to hear "the teacher's side" of things, as well as the gossip, including how our favorite P.E. teacher, Mr. Berry, won over her heart with his persistence and humor and became her husband.
A few weeks later I received a beautiful handwritten letter from Kafi with many more memories, plus a lovely book about 28 famous African Americans for my children, and best of all, a mock certificate for being such a dedicated student. (It says “favorite” but she made clear we were all her favorites.) The gesture was so sweet, and my kids thought it was great, too. Here is a picture of my 6 year-old daughter holding the certificate and book.
Thank you, Capitol Hill Day School, for those amazing memories and for helping me reconnect with a teacher who had such a tremendous influence on who I am today both personally and professionally. I now work at a network called FUSION for multicultural progressive millennials that deals with many of the issues Kafi so subtly raised when we were 10 years old.
She now lives in Miami with her husband Carlos, an interior designer, and their two children, 7 year old Joaquin and 6 year old Cibelle.
We asked Kathryn Lanouette ’93 to tell us how and why she found herself in a teaching career in which she draws on the field education program and integrated curriculum of her days at Capitol Hill Day School. Even after we peppered her with questions about her life and education, Kathryn still was able to say: “It was actually a lot of fun to answer these questions and reflect on my time at CHDS as well as how my teaching career has evolved!”
After you graduated from Oberlin, did you intentionally look for teaching positions?
My interest in teaching actually evolved slowly. Right after graduation, I worked as a Park Ranger in Olympic National Park. In prior summers, I worked as a ranger in the White Mountain National Forest in NH and developed a love for hands-on conservation education in remote settings.
When the National Park Service job ended in the fall, I returned to Washington, DC, and started working for The Trust for Public Land (TPL), furthering my interest in resource conservation work, albeit in an urban setting. I enjoyed this job but missed the on-the-go dynamic of ranger work, as well as interacting with so many different kinds of people on a daily basis.
By chance, I learned of an opportunity to work as a substitute teacher at CHDS with Bobbe in the Pre-K classroom. I was instantly struck by how much I enjoyed working with children! I especially liked the intellectual challenge, unpredictability, and creativity demanded of working with young children.
I decided to pursue full-time teaching to see whether I really liked it as a future profession. I researched mentored teaching opportunities at a variety of schools and ended up moving to New York City to work as a 3rd grade associate teacher at an independent school in the Bronx.
What is your current position at The Town School? What kind of school is it, and what attracted you to it?
Prior to coming to The Town School four years ago, I worked in both classroom and museum education settings. My teaching experiences in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classrooms and at the Bronx Zoo solidified my passion for education, both in school and museum settings. When I learned of the Science Specialist position at The Town School, I jumped at the chance because it spanned such a wide range of ages and offered a genuine opportunity to continue the hands-on, inquiry-based learning that I had learned at the Bronx Zoo and throughout my master’s degree program.
As the Lower School Science Specialist, I teach Science to 1st through 4th grade students; from the lifecycle of insects and plants to the water cycle and outer space, it is an exciting curriculum that constantly keeps both me and my students engaged. I also design the 1st through 4th grade science curriculum, and work with the 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade science teachers to formulate a cohesive science curriculum that builds sequentially throughout all grades. Combining classroom instruction and curriculum development is an exciting challenge, requiring a simultaneous micro and macro view of students’ scientific learning.
The Town School is a nursery through 8th grade independent, co-educational school that educates about 400 students. Located in New York City overlooking the East River, it beautifully balances traditional and innovative education philosophies. The school motto – “Let there be joy in learning.” – embodies a lot of the faculty’s approach to teaching and learning.
In addition to my work at The Town School, I am also an Adjunct Instructor at Bank Street Graduate College of Education. I am currently teaching a semester-long course called Science For Teachers, a graduate workshop designed to teach teachers how to teach science. The class focuses on Pre-K through 6th grade instruction and curriculum design. I’ve been enjoying encouraging and supporting new teachers as they begin integrating the city’s science-based field resources into their own curriculums.
What prompted you to pursue a graduate degree in Childhood Education and Museum Education at the Bank
s Street Graduate College of Education?
I pursued my M.S. Ed. in Childhood and Museum Education for two reasons. First, Bank Street is one of the few schools in the country offering a program in both Childhood and Museum Education. It simultaneously prepares you for two professional roles: that of a classroom teacher in 1st through 6th grade, skilled in making effective use of museum resources; and that of a museum educator knowledgeable about children and schools. The museum component seemed particularly compelling given my Field Education experiences at CHDS and my work in the National Park Service. Second, Bank Street has a reputation for progressive, innovative teaching, especially in the elementary and middle school grades. I was interested in learning more of the theory and practice behind innovative teaching techniques and had heard Bank Street was a great place for this.
CHDS Field Education Director Lisa Sommers told us your paths crossed philosophically and physically!
As a graduate student, I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. One day, I was having lunch with a friend and as I was leaving, I saw Lisa Sommers at another table with a friend! I stopped and we chatted about educational endeavors, both past and present. It was great to catch up and share the different ways that Field Education was informing my own teaching and interests.
Tell us about a particularly memorable CHDS field trip.
From visiting a tile making artist and sketching animals at the National Zoo to touring Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Center and drawing the architectural features in the surrounding neighborhoods, there are so many memorable field trips that come to mind.
One trip that stands out was a Paul Taylor dance performance at the Kennedy Center. In preparing for the trip, Lisa Sommers’ sister, a critic for the Washington Post talked with us about the nuts and bolts of reviewing a dance performance. Sitting in the front row, I can still recall sweat flinging off the dancers’ bodies as they moved across the stage in a combination of pure athleticism and art. Throughout the performance, we all jotted down our impressions, later using our observations to write reviews of the performance. I liked that we got to practice being reviewers and that the subsequent writing assignment felt directly connected to the real world outside the walls of the Dent Building.
What lessons or principles have you carried from CHDS to the Town School?
I think the most fundamental lesson I’ve carried with me is the importance of integrating curriculum at multiple levels. For me, learning seemed to make the most sense when it was approached from numerous angles. For example, a research project on animals involved visiting the National Zoo, sketching the animal, building a 3-D paper mache model, researching it in the library, and ultimately writing a report about that animal. Each experience added another layer of understanding.
What are the rewards and challenges of integrating field resources into the science curriculum at The Town School?
There are three main challenges: scheduling, transportation, and identifying quality field opportunities. Scheduling and transportation represent logistical challenges that often require inventive problem-solving and lots of prior planning. One way I’ve handled this is to look for ways to bring science-related field resources into the classroom. For example, a week after my 2nd grade science classes visited the New York Botanical Garden, they skyped with a NYBG botanist, asking follow-up questions and learning in greater detail about his specific research, all from the lower school science lab!
The biggest challenge is ultimately identifying individuals, programs, and institutions that extend the science curriculum in meaningful ways. Finding resources that directly enrich the science curriculum, maximize hands-on learning, and offer authentic scientific experiences takes lots of research.
Even with these challenges, it is well worth it because carefully selected field education opportunities have added exciting depth and breadth to the science curriculum. My science students have visited the New York Botanical Garden, video conferenced with the Bronx Zoo, participated in a Liberty Science Center workshop on matter, and talked with the editor of Scholastic's SuperScience magazine. They delighted in the "realness" of these experiences, exclaiming that "It was so cool to talk to a real plant scientist about plants!" or "I liked watching hard stuff like metal melt before my eyes!"
Margaret L. McKenzie is a visiting researcher and Boren National Security Fellow at the American University of Kuwait. Margaret gives public and guest lectures at the university, and will continue her research until August 2015. She will complete her Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy specializing in Security Studies and Environmental Resource Policy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Margaret received her mediation certification last year and mediates in Boston small claims courts. She has served as an advisor and consultant on issues related to education and the environment for various international agencies and organizations. To date, she has worked with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (IIGR), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), as well as community-based groups in Canada, Jordan, Palestine, and other areas. Her current research is focused on desalination and aims to understand the policy implications of innovation and technology transfer to the water/energy nexus. Margaret speaks English and French, and is studying Arabic in Kuwait.
David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. For more information, go to www.borenawards.org.
After CHDS I attended Maret and then Tufts University. While I was at Maret, I started studying Chinese and traveled to China for the first time. At Tufts I majored in Chinese and architecture. I studied abroad spring semester junior year in Beijing, China. Last year after graduating, I moved to Foshan, China to spend a year teaching English to 3 and 4 year olds at an international kindergarten. I just moved back home to the States last month and am now applying to graduate programs for architectural 3D modeling.
I always felt prepared for even my most difficult classes at Maret. Also my interest in China definitely started at CHDS when we studied China in 5th grade.
One of the most significant ways you can support Capitol Hill Day School is with a gift to Annual Giving. Annual Giving is Capitol Hill Day School’s most important fundraising effort and is essential to the ongoing sustainability of our School. Click here to make your gift today, and remember…every gift is important!