Nationals Catcher Wilson Ramos was on hand June 1 to congratulate students at D.C. Scholars Public Charter School for winning the “Game Plan for Success” contest, which included a check for $5,000. (AFRO/Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman)

The students of D.C. Scholars Public Charter School (DCSPCS) in Southeast Washington are known for their exemplary academics and outstanding school spirit. In fact, the pre-K through third grade student body, led by Principal Rebecca Crouch, has become an area leader in nurturing each other through the school’s college-prep curriculum.

Priding itself on its extended school hours, Crouch said they “offer 33 percent more time in school because we want our scholars to be over-prepared for high school. We believe more time in front of effective instruction will dramatically close the achievement gap.”

And recently, that hard work paid off big, with D.C. Scholars winning the Be A Learning Hero “Game Plan for Success” award, replete with $5,000 prize.

On hand to present the check, offer encouragement, and sign autographs on June 1 was Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos.

The room of roughly 200 students cheered, waving wrist bands as Ramos entered the room, passing out high-fives en route to the podium. “I’m here to congratulate you for doing a great job and I’m excited because this is all for you,” Ramos told the students. “You have to be smart in whatever you do.”

To succeed in the big leagues, professional baseball players aim high, listen to coaches, practice hard, and then test themselves on game day. That same game plan leads to big wins in classrooms. The “Game Plan for Success” contest encouraged schools, teachers, students, parents, and community members to share their own stories in which hard work, practice and high expectations paid off. In DCSPCS’s winning entry, they highlighted their strategy for making sure D.C. Scholars is meeting the literacy rigors of the Common Core standards by implementing a close reading program.

“Our scholars have been working so hard all year so we’re just really excited and we’re also honored that Wilson Ramos decided to come by and acknowledge all of the efforts that the students put into winning,” Crouch said. “The academic achievement that we’ve seen this year has just been outstanding and the students are really to be commended.”

D.C. Scholars’ extended school day and year provide students with comprehensive instruction in reading and math, as well as courses in science, social studies, and African drumming. The D.C. Scholars PCS approach to academics is designed to meet students where they are to ensure that all students can succeed.

Be A Learning Hero is a project of the New Venture Fund, supported by a group of organizations with a shared mission – providing parents with the information and resources they need to support their children’s learning and help them be successful in school.