Message from Principal Hedlund

Dr. Phyllis HedlundPrincipal Newsletters

Principal's Newsletter

Dear Families,

I look forward to meeting many of our new families this Sunday, August 22nd from 10-noon at the DPR Playground, which is behind the school on Jonquil. Teachers returned to the building today, and it was wonderful to be together again. They are very excited about the upcoming school year. Today, Monday and Tuesday, we are receiving training in Responsive Classroom.

Here is an overview of the approach:

The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is comprised of a set of well-designed practices intended to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities. The emphasis is on helping students develop their academic, social, and emotional skills in a learning environment that is developmentally responsive to their strengths and needs.

Core Belief

In order to be successful in and out of school, students need to learn a set of social and emotional competencies—cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control—and a set of academic competencies—academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors.

Guiding Principles

The Responsive Classroom approach is informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers. Six principles guide this approach:

  1. Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
  2. How we teach is as important as what we teach.
  3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  4. How we work together as adults to cre­ate a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
  5. What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expec­tations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
  6. Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.

 I will provide more information on what we learned and how Responsive Classroom will influence our practice in the 2021-22 school year at our September PTO meeting.

Last Monday on our call, a lot of parents were asking where students would be eating lunch. Since elementary school students may eat in their classrooms, Shepherd students will do so. Students ate in their classrooms in Terms 3 and 4 last year and are accustomed to it. Many parents had safety concerns about eating in the cafeteria. Please find all the important safety information about school year 21-22 at the DCPS Reopen Strong website.

Please note that to safely conduct our K-5 Open House on 8/27, I have made the following adjustment: Families whose last names begin with A-L should attend from 3:00-3:30 pm. Families whose last names begin with M-Z should attend from 3:30-4:00 pm. 

Have a wonderful weekend. Please reach out with any questions, and I look forward to welcoming you to Shepherd soon. Announcements and important dates follow below.


Phyllis Hedlund, Ed.D.

Principal, Shepherd Elementary

Morning Arrival Information

  • The entrances to the school building open at 8:20 am.
  • To ensure the safety of your children, please stay with your child(ren) until 8:20 am when teachers are on duty.
  • PK 3 students will enter the building at the entrance to the PK 3 wing on Jonquil.
  • PK 4 and K students will enter the building at the entrance to the original school building, which is adjacent to the main entrance.
  • Students in grades 1-3 will enter the building at the main entrance and will proceed to the multipurpose room.
  • Students in grades 4-5 will enter through the gate at the faculty parking lot and will remain on the playground. The entrance to the parking lot will be blocked for student safety each day at 8:20 am.
  • Multiple entrances are being used to avoid staggered arrival times.
  • Teachers begin picking up students at 8:35 a.m. in order for instruction to begin by 8:45 am.
  • Students are late after 8:45 am and should report to the Welcome Center for a tardy slip.

Afternoon dismissal information

  • We will stagger afternoon dismissal to reduce congestion outside the school.
  • Students reporting to Star Achievers will be escorted to after care, followed by walkers (guardians must complete a self-dismissal from), then car pool where they will wait in the multipurpose room to be called to their vehicle and finally students whose adults are waiting for them outside of school.
  • PK 3 will be dismissed from the Jonquil entrance where their wing is located.
  • PK 4 and Kindergarten will be released from the original school building.
  • Carpool students are brought to the multi-purpose room and released from the 14th Street entrance.
  • Students must have all of their books and belongings, as they will not be allowed to return to the building (or classrooms) following dismissal.
  • Students must be picked up by 3:25 and will be brought to the atrium after that time. Please pick up your student(s) on time; it is always very important but especially during the pandemic since we work to keep grade levels separate from one another.

Conversation about SY2021-22

Please join me at 5:00 pm on Monday, August 23rd for a conversation about the opening of school. We received a lot of new information this week, and we will review it together and discuss Shepherd-specific information.

Topic: Back to School Information Session

Time: Aug 23, 2021 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 851 8893 1177

Passcode: 46nfe0

School Supplies

We are not requiring parents to purchase school supplies. We have budgeted well and are able to purchase students’ supplies internally. In addition, each teacher receives funds from the PTO to purchase their individual wish lists.

Class Lists

Class lists will be available to families the week of August 23rd. Rosters are still shifting at this time.


Please bring gently used uniforms to school for our uniform swap. There are bins inside of the main entrance for this purpose.

Students are expected to wear every day to school: 

1. A Shepherd Elementary spirit t-shirt OR a white shirt (without a logo or decoration) and 

2. 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: 

  • French Toast
    Enter Shepherd’s school source code: QS4SJF at it will take you right to the options that meet our dress code. 
  • 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
  • Shepherd’s Used Uniform Sales
    Stayed tuned for school uniform swaps, which will take place during the first two weeks of school. 

Dietary Accommodations

DCPS Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is no longer requiring a new dietary accommodation form for each school year!

You must submit a new dietary accommodation form only if:

  • Your student is new to DCPS and requires dietary accommodations, or
  • There are changes to the students’ current dietary accommodation form on file with Food and Nutrition Services. 

Please note that all dietary accommodation forms submitted in school years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 will carry over.

DCPS does not serve meals that contain pork, peanuts, or tree nuts. It is our pleasure to serve vegetarian meals in every school, every day. If your student requires vegetarian meals (will not contain meat, poultry, or fish, but may contain dairy and/or eggs), you do not need to complete a Dietary Accommodation form.

To request a dietary accommodation, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Complete the appropriate Dietary Accommodation form for each child in your household that needs a dietary accommodation.

  • Forms
    • Medical Dietary Accommodations Form (For medical accommodations such as food allergies. Requires medical provider’s signature.) 
    • Milk Substitution & Philosophical Dietary Accommodations Form

Step 2: Submit the completed dietary form to [email protected] (preferred), to your school’s cafeteria or by mail to:

DCPS Food & Nutrition Services
c/o Nadine James – Dietary Accommodation Form
1200 First Street, NE 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Fax: (202) 727-2512

Step 3: Food and Nutrition Services will contact you via e-mail to confirm receipt of the form.

Step 4: Our Dietitian will contact you by phone or email with any follow-up questions or to discuss the modified menu if necessary.

If your student has a severe or life-threatening food allergy, we also encourage you to work with your school to develop a section 504 plan. Please contact your school directly or email [email protected].

Before completing a dietary accommodation request form, please note:

  • Dietary accommodations are tracked centrally via student ID number. If your student transfers to another DCPS school during the school year or less than 4 weeks before the start of a new school year, the form does not need to be resubmitted to us, however, we strongly encourage you to alert us so accommodations can continue without interruption at your destination school. Please email us at [email protected].
  • Forms must be complete before accommodations can be met, including parent/legal guardian signatures and licensed medical provider signatures (when applicable).

Please select the dietary form for which your student requires a medical dietary accommodation: English | Español | አማርኛTiếng Việt | Français | 中國人

Please select the dietary form for which your student requires a milk substitute and philosophical dietary accommodation: English | Español | አማርኛTiếng Việt | Français | 中國人

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.

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. Families whose last names begin with A-L should attend from 3:00-3:30 pm. Families whose last names begin with M-Z should attend from 3:30-4:00 pm. 
  • 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  
  • PTA Meeting Wednesday, 9/22 6:30 pm