Note: After four years as Principal at H.D. Cooke Elementary, Katie Larkin was promoted to Instructional Superintendent at DCPS in May 2018. While at H.D. Cooke, she received the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Leadership.
My name is Katie Larkin and I am the principal of H.D. Cooke Elementary School in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. This is my eighteenth year of service in DC Public Schools. In that time I have had the pleasure of working as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal. I am also a long-time resident of Adams Morgan. It is an honor to write a statement of support for the Grassroots Education Project. This is my third year working with them through the Reading All-Stars program, a program that works to improve the literacy rates of the students at H.D. Cooke.
Saturday Reading All-Stars (RAS) is a mentoring program that supports literacy and early reading development. Mentors from the community come out to Cooke almost every Saturday morning to read with their student and play games that promote early reading skills. Even more than the skill development, the students develop their love of reading. Every Friday, I start getting the questions, “Is Reading All-Stars tomorrow?” and “Will I see my mentor tomorrow?” The students know that they are loved and that their community is investing in them.
H.D. Cooke has seen growth in reading scores, both formal and informal testing, since partnering with Reading All-Stars. The time students spend reading with their mentors works to develop their vocabulary and reading strategies. The program allows for students to build upon what they are learning from their teachers, and apply it in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the academic advancements that this program has supported for student literacy, it has also built a stronger relationship between H.D. Cooke and the community that we serve. As a principal, it has been invaluable to have the support of the Grassroots Education Project and their Reading All-Stars program.