Hyde-Addison Elementary School

Hyde-Addison Elementary School

Photograph by Tim Wessel.A strong community and a student-centered focus have long been the heart of Hyde-Addison Elementary, a well-regarded public school in Washington, DC. Since Hyde-Addison began using Responsive Classroom practices in 1999, staff have credited the approach with helping them build a welcoming and inclusive community for their very diverse student body.

The school has also drawn on Responsive Classroom to help them navigate significant growth: Since 2008 the student population has doubled, and the campus has expanded to a second building. Responsive Classroom, notes principal Dana Nerenberg, helped staff consider what they’d need to do to keep their school community safe and inclusive as it grew. “All our work is grounded in the belief that all our students belong to all of us and all of them are amazing,” says Nerenberg.

“At schools that use Responsive Classroom, children are valued, seen, heard, celebrated, and challenged.”  —Dana Nerenberg, principal

To enact this ethic of student-centered shared responsibility, Hyde-Addison staff gather information and meet regularly. They compare notes about students and coordinate their responses to student needs. Through careful attention and reflection, they’ve built strong relationships with students and their families.

To further build their school community, each year they use a schoolwide process for creating rules that apply everywhere on school grounds. Because everyone has a stake in the process, everyone respects these rules and understands the expectations underlying them.

“Students here don’t say, ‘You’re not my teacher!’ when an adult gives them a reminder or redirection,” says Nerenberg. “Having a common language and common ways of doing things makes a huge difference.”

Hyde-Addison’s Journey

On their way to schoolwide implementation, Hyde-Addison teachers began using Responsive Classroom practices in classrooms in 1999. The school has sustained schoolwide implementation through its steadfast commitment to training and support from school leaders. Here are some highlights from their journey.


Anthony Hyde Elementary’s Responsive Classroom initiative begins under the leadership of principal Anne Jenkins-Jordan. Teachers are trained and start implementing Responsive Classroom practices.


Dana Nerenberg becomes principal. District restructuring leads to a larger student body and incorporation of an empty school building nearby. The school, renamed Hyde-Addison, begins holding weekly whole-school meetings, which quickly become a cherished tradition.


Nerenberg and the leadership team get Responsive Classroom training and attend the Responsive Classroom Schools Conference. All new teachers who join the staff now take Responsive Classroom I.


Hyde-Addison staff create and implement a buddy classroom disciplinary system that reflects their “all students belong to all of us” philosophy. The leadership team presents at the 2012 Responsive Classroom Schools Conference and attends a session that inspires them to create a new school tradition: Health and Fitness Day—a half-day of choice activities for the entire school.

Dana Nerenberg will be a panelist at this year’s Responsive Classroom Leadership Conference.

Our Responsive Classroom Overview video features staff and students at Hyde-Addison Elementary. Take a quick video field trip to this Responsive School community by watching the thank you video we gave them after filming at their school in 2011.

To learn more about bringing the Responsive Classroom approach to your school or district, please contact our school services team. Call 800-360-6332, ext. 151 or email [email protected].

Tags: Building Schoolwide Community, Professional Community