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Archive - Jul 2015

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Educational Consultants Are Everywhere and Want to Help

In addition to an enviable array of school choice options, DC parents enjoy perhaps the largest selection of educational consultants available anywhere. Parents looking for help, ideas, or a professional opinion on educating and raising children – from preschool through college – can now consult with District-based companies providing school choice, school placement, therapeutic placement, learning skills, tutoring, college counseling, and academic coaching services.

Paul Rivas is the founder of Smith Rivas Academic Coaching & Consulting and can be contacted at Smith Rivas helps students earn better grades in less time by teaching study skills and time management that last a lifetime. Their mission is to inspire students to seek more than they think is possible, teach them how to achieve it, and push them toward peak performance.

The Common Lottery Two Years Later

Is It Working?

Back in the Dark Ages, aka Before Common Lottery, the school application process was confusing and probably unfair. It favored families with better resources and allowed children to gain simultaneous admittance to multiple schools. Then, in the fall of 2013, the Common Lottery was introduced. The new system brought nearly all public and charter school applications under a single roof.

E.V. Downey is the principal educational consultant at Downey School Consulting, where she consults on public, charter, private, and special-needs school choices and issues. She started consulting after years of teaching children of all ages and working in private school administration. A graduate of DC Public Schools, E.V. lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and two children.

Educational Reform Recast

New Actors, New Policies

The DC Council Committee on Education and Libraries held a roundtable earlier this summer on the independent evaluation of the city’s eight-year-old school reform. During that session DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson looked around at other government witnesses, wondering who would respond to Chairman David Grosso’s question. “I guess I better answer that one,” Henderson finally said. “I’ve been here the longest.”

Journalism's Certifiable Future

The Nose

The doldrums of August are nearly upon us, Dear Readers. In the evenings, the thwack of bats sound across the Mall as millennial interns engage in gladiatorial contests. A humid haze obscures that patriotic testament to George's manhood. On Capitol Hill, our Congressional minders stagger through the twilight hours of a spring session. While at the other side of Pennsylvania Ave. NW, The Nose's favorite cast of characters, the DC Council, is poised to flee the Wilson Building for the August recess.

Have a comment for The Nose, email

Dear Garden Problem Lady

My neighbor uses mirrors in her garden. They reflect her charming rose arbor. But when I plan where to put a mirror, I realize that it is going to reflect our dogleg with garbage cans or the back of the house which needs painting. Any ideas?

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Send them to the Problem Lady c/o The Capitol Hill Garden Club at Your problems might prove instructive to others and help them feel superior to you. Complete anonymity is assured.

Going Ductless

Another Way to Cool, and Heat, Your Home

Staying cool is a top priority during these humid dog days of summer. If the heat is getting to you, and you’re contemplating replacing or retrofitting your home with a cooling and/or heating system or considering it as a part of your home renovation, there are advantages and disadvantages to the various options that are worthy of review. 

Catherine Plume is a lifelong environmentalist, a writer, and a blogger for the DC Recycler:; Twitter @DC_Recycler.

Growing Edibles 80 Feet Up

First-time gardener (and Hill Rag managing editor) Andrew Lightman spends about half an hour a day tending potted herbs and vegetables on his eighth-floor balcony. “I cook constantly and love the idea of making something,” he says. “Part of my relationship with food is buying from people I know. The garden is an extension of that.” Lightman grows over a dozen varieties of edibles and closely observes their progress. By jumping in feet first and being willing to learn along the way, he has gained tremendous experience.

Cheryl Corson is a local licensed landscape architect working on the Hill and beyond. She has gardened on fire escapes, rooftops, city streets, and farms. Contact www.cherylcorson.comfor design assistance.

St. Mark’s Dance Studio Registration

Photograph By
Stephanie Deutsch

Ballet lessons aren’t just for little girls. Beyond the fact that boys can and do study ballet, there is also the fact that adults, male and female, can and do study ballet. And not just ballet but jazz dance as well. There are professional dancers, of course, but there are also people who do it just because, in the words of Rosetta Brooks, director of the dance studio at St. Mark’s Church, “Dancing makes you feel good!”