School History

"Bearing the Child in Mind"

The DPES family promotes a schoolwide academic policy that supports a student-centered community where students develop academic, social, and personal skills that will enable appropriate interaction in a safe and orderly environment.


The original Douglass Park building was built during World War II for Federal employees, primarily the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Originally, it was the old Norfolk County High School in what was then Norfolk County. After the war, Portsmouth annexed this section of Norfolk County. Douglass Park School, named after Frederick Douglass, a famous black freedom fighter, was erected in the early 1950’s with twelve rooms, a library, and a cafeteria. In the early 1960’s the community mushroomed and an additional sixteen rooms were added. Finally, in the 2001-2002 school year Douglass Park Elementary School underwent additional renovations which included additional classrooms, a new library, a multipurpose room, air-conditioning and state-of-the-art technology.

The 1993-94 school year marked the beginning of Portsmouth’s first elementary mathematics, science, and technology magnet program at Douglass Park. The program was on the cutting edge of teaching innovations with computer labs, new math programs, live animals, extracurricular clubs, NASA training, extensive field trip experiences, and guest lectures. Douglass Park was fondly referred to as “Douglass Park Earth & Space Elementary School” to reflect this innovation program.

In the spring of 1999, the Douglass Park Elementary family elected to implement the School Development Program (SDP) model of school reform. As the first CoZi Community School in Portsmouth, our school is part of the collaborative effort launched by two nationally known school reform leaders, James P. Comer, professor of child psychiatry at Yale Child Study Center, and Edward Zigler, professor of psychology at Yale University. Cozi is a reform model that links early childhood education, the school’s academic program, parents, teachers, and community support services together to make sure children are ready for school.

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