Note: After two years as Assistant Principal and five years as Principal at Tubman Elementary, Harry Hughes was promoted to Instructional Superintendent at DCPS in June 2013. While at Tubman, he received the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award and the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Leadership.
My name is Harry Hughes and I am the principal of Harriet Tubman Elementary School located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington D.C. It is with my greatest enthusiasm that I offer this statement of support for Adam Barr and the Grassroots Education Project. I have had the pleasure of knowing Adam for over four years now as a result of his work with the Reading All-Stars (RAS) program, an idea he initiated in an effort to improve literacy rates and writing skills.
The RAS program provides additional reading support to Tubman students in grades Kindergarten through fifth who have been identified as struggling readers. The program matches community volunteers with Tubman students in a one to one setting. This affords students the opportunity to read to an adult and the adult an opportunity to help their student access information to improve their fluency, comprehension and writing skills. Since the inception of the program in 2009, the RAS volunteers have provided almost twenty thousand volunteer hours. Currently, the program hosts over sixty volunteers and Tubman students each Saturday for two hours. Reading All-Stars has been a great success and their impact can be seen not only in increased literacy rates as measured by DIBELS, TRC and the DC-CAS, but also in the shift in attitude of our struggling readers about their fondness of reading. I have personally seen many students go from grudgingly attending RAS to expressing great disappointment when RAS is cancelled because of a Monday holiday.
To say that Adam assists with the programs is a gross understatement. Without Adam’s vision, selflessness, perseverance, organizational capabilities and his love for children, the program would not exist as it does. Adam is instrumental in recruiting and organizing volunteers from the Columbia Heights community which is the life blood of the program. Unless on travel, Adam is always in the building on Saturday greeting parents, students and volunteers. He has successfully organized multiple fund raisers, which allow the program to operate independently, not relying on funds from other sources. Further, Adam often seeks out feedback and takes this information to make ongoing improvements to the program. Anne Frank was quoted as saying “how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” That quote reminds me of Adam Barr. He is truly an inspiration to us all.