Message from Principal Hedlund

Dr. Phyllis HedlundPrincipal Newsletters

Principal's Newsletter

Six weeks until the first day of school! Important reminders!

Dear Shepherd Families,

I hope you and your family are having a safe summer so far. As we prepare to welcome your student back for a new school year on August 30, we want to keep you updated on our work and what you need to know to be ready for the first day of school. Please not that PK 3 and PK 4 programs start on September 2nd.

In this email, you’ll find information on staffing, uniforms, health and safety protocols, virtual learning registration for medically eligible students, required immunization reminders for all students, afterschool registration information, dates for family activities and information for early childhood families.

Staffing Updates

Sabria Trotter who has taught Kindergarten for the last two years at Shepherd is excited to move to PK 3 this fall.

Sarah Zepeda looks forward to moving back to Kindergarten.

Janelle McCarthy will be our new third grade homeroom teacher. She has a background not only in general elementary education but special education and counseling. In term 4, Ms. McCarthy served as a substitute for in person learning classrooms and is already feeling at home in our Shepherd community.

Brenda Brown will be our new fourth grade homeroom teacher who will deliver mathematics instruction to our fourth graders. Ms. Brown served as a temporary teacher in Term 4 and a homeroom teacher for fourth grade during our Summer Acceleration Academy. She is coming to us from Houston and has served not only as a mathematics teacher but as a mathematics instructional coach.

Jessie Caola will join us as our third fifth grade homeroom teacher. Ms. Caola comes to us from Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School where she taught fourth and second grades. She has an extensive background in International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme from her tenure there.

Joe Muskett will move from Special Education to Physical Education, which he formerly taught in DCPS.

Chantal Rowe will join us as our Special Education teacher for grades 3-5. Dr. Rowe is a former DCPS colleague of Dr. Stephens and will also serve as our Equity Teacher Leader.

Jamila Romero will serve as our Teacher Leader for Innovation and Mathematics Interventionist.

Jamie Weng comes to us from the Lowell School where she worked as a reading specialist and instructional coach. She will be our Teacher Leader for Innovation and Reading Interventionist.

Davon Martin will work in our CES ECE classroom as an instructional aide.


During Term 4, I surveyed parents on whether Shepherd should maintain its uniform policy. Students attending in person were not required to wear uniforms. The results were close, but qualitative data and research findings that uniforms increase safety and students’ ease in going to school tipped the scales in favor of maintaining uniforms.
Students are expected to wear every day to school: A Shepherd Elementary spirit t-shirt OR a white shirt (without a logo or decoration) and Navy blue bottoms — pants, shorts, skorts or skirts.

The Shepherd school uniform is not logo or brand-specific. Parents may purchase school uniforms from any store or website that sells the appropriate items. Here are two vendors that families have used in the past:

  1. French Toast – Click this link or enter Shepherd’s school source code: QS4SJF at it will take you right to the options that meet our dress code.
  2. Land’s End School Uniform Shop
    Specify Shepherd “Preferred School Number” when placing an order from the Lands’ End School Uniform catalog or Lands’ End School Uniform website. Shepherd’s Preferred School Number: 900131202. Lands End is having a sale with up to 75% off NOW. Any navy or white short, pant, skirt, shirt or skort is aligned with our uniform policy.

Shepherd’s Used Uniform Sales – Stay tuned for school uniform swaps, which will take place during the first two weeks of school.

Students can also wear Shepherd t-shirts any day in place of navy and white shirts. Student government, once elected, will confer with school leadership on spirit and dress down days. More info coming from the PTO on buying Shepherd gear!

This year, plan on sending your child to school in sneakers as much as possible to preserve the beautiful new gymnasium floor.

Safely Reopening: Health and Safety Information

We’ve taken comprehensive steps to ensure your child is safe while attending school. At Shepherd, here’s what you can expect this fall:

  • A brand-new HVAC system that was completed in early July; 
  • Required face masks for all students, staff, and visitors;
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces;
  • Social distancing to the extent possible, with most classrooms expected to be at least three feet apart; and
  • Verbal health screens upon entry for all students and staff.

Even though this is an unpredictable time, families should have confidence that we have taken the necessary steps and then some to ensure your child is welcomed back to a safe and supportive learning environment.

Virtual Learning Registration

We hope and expect the majority of our students will return to full-time in-person learning in the fall. However, we know there are students who have a medical condition who need to continue virtual instruction.

To register for virtual instruction, families must submit the required form signed by their doctor online or by dropping it off at the school. Families are asked to complete this form by July 30, 2021, or we cannot guarantee students learning virtually will have a schedule for the first week of school. Only enrolled students are eligible to register for virtual learning.

Check out the FAQ on virtual learning at and our virtual learning one-pager in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Amharic.

Immunization Reminders

We encourage you visit to your family’s pediatrician for your student’s annual wellness exam. Scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor will help make sure your child is up to date on important immunizations to prevent illness. District of Columbia policies and regulations require students to submit updated immunization documentation for the new school year. Students who do not submit the records within 20 days will not be able to attend until those records are received.

We are also encouraging our students ages 12 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect our community from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and currently not required to attend school next year.

Afterschool Programming is Back!

Shepherd Star Achievers will be back in business when school opens! Registration is open. You can register your student(s) here.

Upcoming Events

Play Date for new families K-5 Sunday, 8/22 Community Center Playground 10:00-Noon
Play Date/Open House for K-5 Friday, 8/27 3:00-4:00 pm Sign up is not required
Pre-K 3 Playdate and School Tour Friday, 8/27 2:00-3:00 pm Sign up here
Pre-K 4 Playdate and School Tour Friday, 8/27 1:00-2:00 pm Sign up here
First Day of School (K-5th grade) Monday, 8/30
Pre-K First Day of School Thursday, 9/2
Labor Day (No School for Students) Monday, 9/6
PTO Meeting Wednesday, 9/22 6:30 pm

Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 Families Only – Virtual ECE Events

Tomorrow Thursday, July 22nd at 5:30 pm ECED will be hosting an informational session as part of the #RecoverStrong series. This event, “Caring for Our Youngest Learners: Reopening our Pre-K Classrooms,” will focus on the practices put in place to ensure our Pre-K classrooms remain safe, healthy, and joyful places to learn this school year. RSVP here.

Ready for Pre-K! will be hosting two virtual events in August, “Getting Ready for Pre-K: Tips for a Smooth Transition into School!” The first will be facilitated in Spanish on Wednesday, August 4th at 4:30 pm. The second will be on Thursday, August 5th at 5:30 pm in English. These sessions will focus on how families can help their child feel prepared for the transition to school and what to expect throughout the Pre-K day. RSVP here.

Pre-K Family Toolkit

Take a look at the Pre-K Family Toolkit! This site is for both incoming and current DCPS Pre-K families. The resources on this site provide information about what to expect in Pre-K, how families can support their child’s development and learning at home, and tips to prepare for the transition into school. This resource is available in English and Spanish. Vist:

Back to School Night will be determined and communicated soon and teacher assignments and supply lists will arrive in late August. Supply lists will be as minimal as possible.
We can’t wait to welcome back your student in 6 weeks. We want to make sure you are hearing from us on what you need to know before August 30.

See you and your student soon!