HS Design Principles - Columbia Heights Educational Campus

Go to content


Because each student at BMHS is entitled to achieve high academic and social/emotional outcomes, CHEC's entire administration, faculty and staff are 100% committed to following these design principles:

  • Developing Students that are Ready for college:  Everything at BMHS is characterized by the pervasive, transparent, and consistent understanding that the school exists for the purpose of preparing all students for college and work. We will maintain a common set of high standards for every student to thrive.

  • Requiring Powerful Teaching and Learning: BMHS is characterized by the presence of commonly held standards for high quality instructional practice. All our teachers design instruction that ensures the development of critical thinking, application, and problem solving skills often neglected in traditional settings.

  • Personalization: We understand that knowing students well is an essential condition of helping them achieve academically and our administrators, faculty and staff capitalize on knowledge of the students in order to improve student learning.

  • Professionalism: Every adult at CHEC has responsibility to the shared vision of ensuring the success of our students. This is evident in the collaborative, creative, and leadership roles of all adult staff in the high school.  We strive to take responsibility for the success of every student, hold ourselves accountable to our colleagues, and are reflective about our assigned roles.

  • Purposeful Design: CHEC's High School design principals are meant to create the conditions that ensure the other four design principles: ready for college, powerful teaching and learning, personalization, and professionalism. Our organization of time, space, and the allocation of resources ensures that these best practices become common practice.


In order to make sure that each student receives personal attention, CHEC has been divided up into five  Small Learning Communities.  The goal of these Small Learning Communities is to provide clear focus, strong student teacher relationships, and attention to the needs of students at different points in their middle and high school careers. Each SLC has its own floor in the building, along with its own administrator, counselor, teachers, and support staff.  

The goal of Small Learning Communities is to address student needs in numerous ways:
  • personalize the physical environment by clustering student transitions to limited areas
  • centralize the teachers and staff that serve the small learning community
  • ensure that each student is well known by at least one caring adult
  • individualize learning to optimize student strengths and assets
  • expedite intervention to respond to student needs and areas of improvement

SLCs meet weekly to review goals, a plan of action and evidence of results in helping students reach high standards.  SLCs also have themes and chants to build their sense of belonging to their SLC.


The Upper House is composed of the Ninth Grade SLC, the 10th Grade SLC, the Math, Science, Business (MSB) SLC and the Multilingual, Communications, and the Arts (MCA) SLC. The Math, Science and Business SLC has 11th and 12th grade students,  and provides them with a strong academic background and the knowledge and skills needed to follow the pathways leading to professional or technical careers in hospitality, engineering, computer networking and programming, carpentry or construction, and health sciences.  The Multilingual Communications and the Arts SLC provides pathways leading to professional or technical careers in cosmetology, language and interpretation, fine arts, music, law and protective services. This year, MCA will continue its program in Child Care Development.

Classroom learning is enriched with authentic portfolio projects, career fairs, “briefcases,” job shadows, mentoring and practical work-based experiences. Students must complete a job shadow and 80 hours of internship before their senior year. The curriculum is aligned with DCPS academic standards, industry standards, and workplace skills.  The goal is for students to take Early College courses, AP courses, and acquire the foundational skills and certifications needed to support postsecondary or other continued study and employment opportunities.  To reinforce classroom instruction, students are encouraged to participate in a variety of co-curricular activities in their school, community and with the schools’ AMIGOS/partners.
Back to content