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Our School

James K. Polk Elementary School was built in 1965. Polk serves students in grades Pre-K through five. It is located on the west side of the city and is situated on a 13-acre campus. Renovations in 1994 included a new library, office, music room, wired classrooms, and a secured main entrance. In February of 2010, Polk celebrated the grand opening of its new gymnasium. Its design included a modular approach where large sections of prefabricated walls were dropped in by crane, allowing the gym's walls to be erected within a three-day span instead of 12 months if built from the ground up. It contains sun tunnels providing natural light to illuminate the space, LED lighting, and sound absorption panels. The gym's exterior showcases a native Virginia plant design, tying another natural element to the construction design. During the summer of 2011, Polk added four new classrooms using the same modular approach used for the gym. In 2015, four additional modular classrooms were added.

Greenovation Highlights

  • Eco-Air Fresh Air System: Ecology Focus - Geological systems, climate and temperature change
  • Gymnasium Construction and Vegetated Roof: Ecology Focus - Native and drought-resistant plant species
  • Sunshades, Sun Tunnels, and LED light fixtures: Focus - Natural lighting, energy savings
  • Solar Hot Water/Photovoltaic Systems: Focus- Solar energy
  • Geothermal Well/Greenovation Lab: Ecology Focus- Soil composition, temperature, and contamination
  • Classroom HVAC systems and indoor environmental quality: Focus - Indoor air quality vs. outdoor air quality
  • Recycling: Focus - Waste vs. reuse
  • Composting: Focus - Biodegradable products
  • Landscape: Focus - Impact of runoff on the natural environment

Greenovation Lab

At Polk, the traditional mechanical/boiler room has been transformed into a student-accessible "Greenovation" Learning Lab where students can see how the geothermal and solar hot water systems reduce energy consumption. Pipes and systems are labeled so that students can track the pipes as the systems interact.  

Also, an access window to the eco-air pipes was designed into the school's corridor. Monitors display the temperature of the outside (fresh) air entering the system and the temperature of the preheated or pre-cooled air leaving the system. The students learn firsthand that by narrowing the gap between outdoor temperatures and comfortable indoor temperatures, this system significantly reduces the amount of additional energy required to heat or cool the building.

Awards and Honors

  • 2019 Virginia Board of Education Highest Achievement Exemplar Award
  • 2017 Let's Move Active School National Award
  • 2016 Virginia School Nurse of the Year, Stefani Lailari
  • International Society for Technology in Education for Teachers (ISTE-T) (recognized internationally as the pinnacle of proficiency in technology integration): Erin Davidson and Kari Packard
  • 2011 Green Schools Award, GMU/NoVA Outside Green Schools Expo
  • 2010-2019 Winner of Marine Corp Marathon Fun Run Healthy Kids Award
  • 2010 & 2011 Virginia Department of Education Competence to Excellence Awards
  • 2006 Washington Post Grant in Education
  • 2009 Washington Architectural Foundation Grant
  • 2010 Smithsonian American Art Museum: Ashley Shelton, Art Teacher
  • National Board Certified Teachers: Erin Davidson, Marie Peaches, Amanda Priestley, and Vantross Medina-White
  • Winner of the Alexandria Education Partnership Award for Excellence in Teaching: Marie Peaches

Special Events

  • Back to School Night
  • Book Fair
  • Field Day
  • Curriculum Night
  • Science Nights
  • Annual Participation in Alexandria's Earth Day
  • Kindergarten Open House
  • Orientation for New Parents
  • PTA School Picnics, Parent Orientations, Events and Activities
  • PTA sponsored Afterschool Academic and Enrichment Programs
  • PTA sponsored school wide assemblies
  • Reading is Fundamental (RIF)
  • Schoolwide Reading Days
  • Reading celebrations include a reading rally to kick off the summer reading program, "Read for the Record," a worldwide reading event, and "Read Across America."
  • Walk to School Day 
  • Monthly Fitness Friday

Polk Data

James K. Polk Elementary School is fully accredited and meets Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). To learn more, review the Virginia School Quality Profile on the Virginia Department of Education Web site or review recent test scores.

Student Body Demographics

Enrollment: 815 (as of Oct. 17, 2023)

  • American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
  • Asian: 13%
  • Black or African American: 25%
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1%
  • White: 24%
  • Hispanic: 34%
  • Multi-racial: 3%

Special Programs

  • Eligible for free or reduced price meals: 62.4%
  • Students requiring English Learners (EL) services: 56%
  • Students receiving special education services: 7%

School Faculty

Number of Licensed Staff: 80
With Postgraduate Degrees: 79%
With National Board Certification: 4