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Archive for October, 2013

Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Women’s College Cohort Enters its Second Year

In September, teachers Liza Enrich and Laurel Horn took six students to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania to tour the school’s historic campus. The young women explored the dorms and historic classrooms and met with students and administrators. They were, for a few hours on a cloudy Saturday, integrated into the fabric of this prestigious women’s college. This college visit is just one element of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Women’s College Cohort (WCC), now in its second year. Led by Chemistry Teacher Liza Enrich and Special Education Teacher Laurel Horn, both alumnae of Scripps College in Claremont, CA, the WCC exposes female students to the powerful impact of the women’s college experience.

During the first year of the WCC, three young women joined Ms. Enrich and Ms. Horn for weekend trips to regional women’s colleges, and gained additional mentorship and college interview practice. The initiative proved to be successful: Spelman, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard Colleges accepted a graduate from Thurgood Marshall Academy. This year, the WCC has doubled to six young women, all current seniors.

Thurgood Marshall Academy has a successful College Counseling Department – 100% of the school’s graduates have been accepted to college – yet Ms. Enrich and Ms. Horn observed “a void in opportunities to explore what women’s college had to offer. We wanted to broaden students’ perspective to what an all-women’s college could offer,” says Ms. Horn. WCC member Brianne Turner, TMA ’14, echoes this sentiment: “I decided to participate in the WCC because I didn’t have an idea as to what kind of college I wanted to attend. I felt this was a good opportunity to look into colleges and universities I would want to go to.”

Ms. Horn and Ms. Enrich began recruitment for the WCC in the spring. “We look for students with high SAT scores and high GPAs and we strive to expose them to some top tier schools, as many of these women’s colleges are,” says Ms. Enrich. After attending a preliminary information session, students “can submit an essay and be invited to an interview, after which we chose the final cohort for the school year.”

In 2013-14, Ms. Enrich and Ms. Horn invited 12 students to the WCC, six of whom are current members. These six young women attend weekly meetings where they practice interview skills with Ms. Horn and Ms. Enrich, work on building a pad-folio with writing samples, test scores, letters of recommendation, and revise their personal statements for all of their applications, not just to women’s colleges.

The WCC emphasizes the unique benefits of women’s colleges: these schools are often small, liberal arts colleges that have a “deep tradition of sisterhood,” observes Ms. Horn. This small-college setting, explains Ms. Enrich, “is really great for students coming from Thurgood Marshall Academy, which is a small high school, who are looking for that sense of community and cohesion.” Brianne noticed this sense of sisterhood during the Bryn Mawr visit. “There was a sense of community where you felt you could go to just about anyone on campus and get help. You can feel [the connection] to other students…and form a sisterhood that can help you later in life.”

For Brianne, the WCC has been a truly eye opening experience, and her peers in the cohort feel similarly – all plan to apply to at least one women’s college this year.

Growing Healthy Schools Week an Edible Success!

Growing Healthy Schools Week is an initiative that celebrates school gardens and farm-to-school programs throughout the district. Thurgood Marshall Academy was thrilled to host a kick-off event for this wonderful celebration of green initiatives for the 5th year in a row.

This year’s event was hosted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in partnership with the D.C. Farm to School Network, D.C. Greens, D.C. Schoolyard Greening, and Whole Foods Market. Guests from Roots PCS, Richard Wright PCS, Mundo Verde PCS joined DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, U.S. Department of Agriculture representative Audrey Rowe, and DC State Superintendent of Education Jesús Aguirre for a “Top Chef” style competition.

Thurgood Marshall Academy students served as sous-chefs at the event, working with local chefs Lola Bloom of City Blossoms; Ebeth Johnson of Whole Foods; Anne-Marie Ramo of Revolution Foods; Lauren Williams of Chartwells; Ed Kwitowski of DC Central Kitchen; and The Queen of Green (Lauren Von Der Pool). Participants served as guest judges during the competition and were faced with the difficult decision of selecting a dish that was worthy of the 1st place trophy – a huge pumpkin. In the end, Chef Lauren and Thurgood Marshall Academy 9th grader Jhayda Johnson won with their recipe for savory pulled chicken and chard tacos with chile queso fresco and cilantro-lime sauce.

Click here to see photos.

Thurgood Marshall Academy Educator Kena Allison Receives $25,000 Surprise Award from the Milken Family Foundation

Washington, DC (October 24, 2013) – What began as a school assembly to celebrate Thurgood Marshall Academy as a Reward School turned into a surprise for Kena Allison, physics teacher and instructional specialist, who received the top educator award from the Milken Family Foundation.

Lending their congratulations during the surprise ceremony were DC Mayor of Education Abigail Smith who presented a proclamation from the Mayor; D.C. Public Charter School Board Member Don Soifer; Councilmember David A. Catania (At-Large); and DC State Board of Education Representatives Mary Lord (At-Large), Mark Jones (Ward 5), Monica Warren-Jones (Ward 6), and Karen Williams (Ward 7).

Kena Allison could have been a skilled doctor but instead chose to become a dedicated school teacher. Over the years, she has diagnosed and fixed systemic school challenges, repaired the broken dreams of her students, and contributed to improving the academic, emotional, and physical health of not just her students but of her entire school and community.

“Kena is at the heart of our school,” said Alexandra Pardo, Thurgood Marshall’s executive director. “She is a relentlessly dedicated educator with an unwavering commitment to both student support and teacher growth.”

Always the consummate innovator, Allison encourages her 12th grade students to learn Albert Einstein’s subject of choice, physics, in creative ways. Inside the classroom, students originate physics raps to learn equations or play Red Light, Green Light to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Motion. Outside the classroom, she plans field trips for students to study the aerodynamics of roller coasters and also created a “Physics of Sports” project, where students pick their favorite sports like golf or gymnastics and relate back to her how the laws of physics apply to their respective sports.

In addition to being an exceptional classroom teacher, Allison is science department chair, collaborating with colleagues to study Next Generation Science Standards and leading professional development. For her tireless efforts, she received a Harvard Fellowship for Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness in High Schools.

The Milken Educator Awards, conceived to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, is the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine. Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation, co-founded by Michael and Lowell Milken, has devoted more than $136 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including over $64 million in individual Awards to nearly 2,600 recipients plus powerful professional development opportunities and networking with leading education stakeholders.

View photos from the awards presentation
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Learn more about Milken Educator Awards