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2021 OSSE Annual Report: Continue Our Commitment to Our Talented Team and Culture of Excellence

Confirming DC's New State Superintendent of Education
As the city worked its way through pandemic recovery efforts and planned for a return to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, Mayor Bowser appointed Dr. Christina Grant as Acting State Superintendent in June. While serving as Acting State Superintendent, Dr. Grant oversaw the planning and implementation for a safe return to school and the rollout of a centralized, school-based COVID-19 testing program for all DCPS schools and participating public charter schools; she presented the District’s first $25,000 college scholarship in the Take the Shot, DC Youth Vaccine Giveaway; helped kick off the 67th Annual DC One Fund Campaign; and so much more. The Council of the District of Columbia voted to confirm Dr. Grant as State Superintendent in December, and under the leadership of Mayor Bowser, State Superintendent Grant has made it her mission to restore and reinvigorate the DC’s public education system, building on the progress the District has made over the years and tackling challenges as the District recovers from the pandemic.

Visiting Our Schools
In the months since she stepped into her role, State Superintendent Grant has had the pleasure of visiting about two dozen schools across the District where she engaged with students, staff and community stakeholders. During these visits, State Superintendent Grant was able to go beyond building tours. At Aiton Elementary, she helped students launch rockets. While visiting Eliot-Hine Middle School during the first day of the 2021-22 school year, Superintendent Grant joined Mayor Bowser to hand out face masks while children reunited with their classmates and teachers. From participating in a ribbon-cutting at Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts and painting pumpkins with the pre-K students at Friendship Public Charter School (PCS) - Blow Pierce Elementary to touring the working farm (and even wrangling a chicken) at the Sojourner Truth School, these visits and experiences helped paint a fuller picture of DC schools. By the end of 2021, Superintendent Grant had visited nearly 30 public and public charter school campuses across the District. Those visits will continue as Superintendent Grant works toward visiting every LEA by the end of 2022.

First-Ever Virtual Hiring Fair
The depth and breadth of OSSE’s work have increased exponentially over the last two years, especially as we’ve shifted from pandemic response to recovery and restoration. To ramp up that work, OSSE’s Human Resources Team, Deputy Superintendent Team and hiring managers from across the agency participated in the city’s first-ever virtual hiring fair. The teams learned together as they made their way through this new process, and on a timeline that would have been considered unbelievable before, they created job descriptions, interview questions and performance tasks so these positions could be featured during the virtual hiring fair. Of any agency that participated in the fair, OSSE had the most offerings, candidates and screeners - with 12 screeners interacting with nearly 1,000 candidates over two days. As a result of the fair, 40 candidates were selected to move on to the next phase of the hiring.

Cultivating a Flexible, Engaged Workforce
After a year of working remotely, returning to the office was no small feat. And when it came time to begin planning for all staff to come back to the office starting in May 2021, the Operations Team led those efforts and worked to convene the Agency Re-Opening Team, which developed the systems and processes that would allow for a smooth and safe return. From ordering and distributing more than 1 million pieces of PPE and updating badges to making sure our office space was in the best shape possible, OSSE staff worked to ensure everyone could come back to work safely. When OSSE staff celebrated the return to the office in July, the building was full of joy and energy – the kind that’s only possible when people are together, and that carried through the remainder of 2021. Throughout the pandemic, OSSE staff have proven their unwavering dedication to the residents of the District by remaining flexible, diligent and focused on OSSE’s core values.