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After relocating to Washington, DC from the west coast, we made the decision to enroll our children at Inspired Teaching Demonstration School in the fall of 2015. My husband and I both took jobs at another public charter school in the District. Every day my then second and third graders would come home happy, excited, and enthusiastic about what they were learning. The joy they brought home each evening made me certain that I wanted to join the ITDS community - a place where educators prioritize student joy.

Fast forward to today, 5 years after joining the ITDS staff, and despite a global pandemic, I still find myself proud of that professional decision. Not only do my children continue to find that joy in their school experience, so do I. (Check out this video the first-grade classes made last year at the onset of COVID-19 school closures!)

I’m #ITDSproud because:


  •  The school administration and the community prioritizes creating instructional time for fun, engaging, collaborative, and hands-on projects. These projects show off our students' creativity and keep students (and staff) energized about learning. While these projects can sometimes be a bit exhausting, they are truly my favorite part of teaching first grade at Inspired Teaching Demonstration School. The team at ITDS knows these beautiful little people are more than just test scores, reading levels, and numbers. I love that we are encouraged to give them time to CREATE and shine in their own, unique way.  
  • I appreciate the focus ITDS puts on issues of social justice. School leadership and the entire ITDS community continues to challenge teachers, students, and parents to take on many tough, but crucial topics. I see this prioritized daily in our middle school, as my children are encouraged to utilize their voices to advocate for themselves and others in their community. 
  • Our families go above and beyond like no school I've ever been a part of. Whether it be by raising funds, spoiling staff with delicious food and gifts, or stepping up onto the front lines to teach their child(ren) during Distance Learning. The ITDS families are amazing and, as teachers, we could not do all the incredible work we do each school year without them.
  • I love working alongside an amazing ITDS team! Working with dedicated, creative, gifted, and generous educators is a gift. The entire ITDS staff -- teachers, leadership, and support staff -- go out of their way to share ideas and troubleshoot solutions all year long.
  • The best part? Our students! I love these kids like they are my own. Their creative, kind, and empathetic natures are second to none. Our students are the reason I come to work each day and the reason I work the long hours -- pushing myself to create new, fun, and exciting projects to engage them in learning. The hugs, the laughter, the smiles, and the joyful faces make it all worth it. 

At the end of each day, I’m most #ITDSproud to work with a community that continues to prioritize student joy in our work. 


Melissa Somerville

First-grade teacher

#ITDSproud since 2016

What makes you #ITDSproud? 

We’d love to hear from you!