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Archive for October, 2014

Catching Up With TMA Alumna Tamiya Hall

“Anyone at Thurgood Marshall Academy could tell you that I’ve changed” says Tamiya Hall, a 2014 graduate and a current freshman at Norfolk State University (NSU). Now mid-way through her first semester, Tamiya’s transition to undergrad marks the end of a long personal journey into a goal-oriented college student: “I have truly changed my perspective on school and life, and I am proud of myself.”

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A Window on the World: Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Abroad Initiative Enters its 5th Year

Spanish language immersion. Hiking through the mountainous rain forest. Learning indigenous arts from families in rural villages. Sampling Costa Rican cuisine. “I can already picture it,” says Junior Asia Boulware. “The warm, fresh, clean air. The busy roads and marketplaces. The beautiful, immense jungle.”

Sounds like a dream come true? These are the scenes that students at Thurgood Marshall Academy look forward to when they commit to the Abroad Initiative, an after-school club focusing on language immersion, community service, and international travel.

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Thurgood Marshall Academy Launches its College Counseling Institute

With the support of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s SOAR Act Initiative, Thurgood Marshall Academy launched its College Counseling Institute this morning, joined by peers from the District of Columbia Public Schools, Paul PCS, Two Rivers PCS, Maya Angelou PCS, IDEA PCS, YouthBuild PCS, BASIS DC PCS, Cesar Chavez PCS, Washington Latin PCS, and National Collegiate PCS.

The College Counseling Institute strives to share Thurgood Marshall Academy’s experiences and recommendations for best practices in college counseling and alumni support with local public and public charter schools, improving graduation, college acceptance, and college retention rates for youth throughout DC. The Institute is a year-long program designed to share best practices from Thurgood Marshall Academy and participating schools in areas such as creating a college going culture, managing and improving the college application process, maximizing standardized testing for college success, demystifying the financial aid process, and alumni support.

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TMA's Class of 2014 Exceeded City-Wide Average SAT Score

Last week, the College Board released data on student achievement in the District of Columbia on the SAT for the Class of 2014.

At 1,241, our students’ combined math, verbal, and writing score was over 100 points higher than the average for all District of Columbia students (1,115) in public high schools, both charter and traditional. In 2014, our students’ combined average SAT score also exceeded that of African-American test takers in the city at public, public charter, and private high schools, whose average combined score was 1,127.

Put differently, Thurgood Marshall Academy students’ SAT scores represent a true difference between the preparation that our students receive while in high school – preparation that includes double block English and math for all 9th and 10th graders, an in-house, half semester SAT course, free access to online study resources through Kaplan Test Prep, or the availability of an after-school study session with the Carver Group – compared to that of their peers city-wide.

These results confirm what we had already knew: that Thurgood Marshall Academy students are college-ready, and prepared for the challenge of college-level academics.

For more information on city-wide SAT performance, please visit the College Board website.

Thank You To Our 2014-15 Mentors!

To all of our mentors – veteran and novice – we thank you for joining us for this year’s Mentor Program! We have officially reached our capacity for Mentors this year, but we encourage you to check back with Thurgood Marshall Academy in Summer 2015 for Mentor positions available in the 2015-16 school year.

Still want to get involved, but not sure how? Check out our volunteer page for tutoring opportunities, or information on several of our signature programs, including Job Shadow Day, Brown Bag Lunches, or our Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Application Help Day.

Warrior Debaters Earn 2nd Place for Overall Wins at the Inaugural Debate Tournament of 2014-15

Congratulations are in order for our Warrior Debaters! Thurgood Marshall Academy brought four teams to the first debate tournament of the 2014-15 school year, held at Cesar Chavez Parkside Campus. Out of dozens of both novice and varsity debaters, the Warrior Debaters brought home many awards! Here are the results:

Novice (first time debaters):
2nd overall novice team –Copeland Barbee and Kiara Clark
4th place individual speaker – Kiara Clark
5th place individual speaker – Copeland Barbee

Varsity:
4th place team – Cer’cia Wallace (debating solo!)
6th place team – Anthonya James and Eric Izzard
6th place individual speaker – Cer’cia Wallace
8th place individual speaker – Anthonya James
8th place team – Keneon Williams and Sakina Musa
10th place individual speaker – Eric Izzard

School Awards (total number of wins):
2nd place overall

Special thanks to the dedicated debaters who all participated! This is the first time every single student who came to compete was recognized by either an individual or team award. We’d also like to recognize the debaters who came to support their teammates, and learn about debate by observing the competition. Special thanks to Eleanor Lewis for her continued support, helping our debaters research strong arguments and work on their oratorical style.

Stay tuned for updates about our next tournament, which will take place on November 15th.

A Foundation for Success

In DC, with charter, magnet, private, and traditional public high school options available, the processes of choosing the right high school can be a difficult decision for families: it’s a pivotal choice that can affect the trajectory of a young person’s life. At Thurgood Marshall Academy, we’ve spoken to many parents, including Mrs. Sharon Thomas – parent to Thurgood Marshall Academy Senior Carlos McKnight – for insight onto on her family’s decision-making process, why they chose Thurgood Marshall Academy, and her experience as the parent of a soon-to-be graduate.

Mrs. Thomas was initially hesitant about sending Carlos to high school in Anacostia, given the neighborhood’s poor reputation. However, after spending time with Executive Director Alexandra Pardo and Quality Assurance Manager Keisha Hutchinson at DC’s annual Charter School Expo, Mrs. Thomas learned about the distinct advantages of a Thurgood Marshall Academy education – 100% college acceptance, rigorous college-preparatory courses, and a myriad of after-school activities – and decided to pursue further research.

Attending an admissions Open House confirmed the family’s positive impression of the school. Mrs. Thomas recalls that Carlos’ father “had a good feeling…and said ‘you might want to research that school before placing Carlos back into private school.’” In her search, Mrs. Thomas “spoke to other parents, teachers, and administrators that were familiar with Thurgood Marshall Academy’s statistics and profile,” and “searched the internet, the Great Schools brochure, attended open houses, and parent workshops” for more information.

Mrs. Thomas knew, within Carlos’ first year, that their instinct to attend Thurgood Marshall Academy was spot on – classes lived up to their rigorous reputation. In particular, Mrs. Thomas was impressed with the end of year portfolio presentation. In attending Carlos’ panel, she was able to “understand how well he exactly comprehended the concept of the assignments that were taught.”

The teachers at Thurgood Marshall Academy “are remarkable,” says Mrs. Thomas. She is a proponent of building connections between her family and the school’s faculty and staff. At the beginning of each school year, she introduces herself to the teacher “to inform them that I’m a big advocate of my child’s education and believe in working with them.” She also notes the support Thurgood Marshall Academy offers to parents highlighting “Netclassrooms, which allows parents to see exactly what their students are (or aren’t) doing, grades, attendance, conduct, and assignments,” as a “fantastic resource.”

Beyond his classes, Carlos is an active member of the Media and Music Clubs. Through the Music Club, Carlos has had the opportunity to take part in several performances, “landing him an award from The National Society of Arts and Letters presented to him at the Kennedy Center,” Mrs. Thomas proudly notes. Carlos’ involvement in the Media club also opened doors to some of DC’s most recognizable institutions. Carlos accompanied the DC Region Coordinator of The News Literacy Project to conferences, meetings, and seminars at Georgetown University and the Library of Congress. He’s also participated in a panel discussion analyzing youth and media hosted by PBS’ Gwen Ifill. The Media Club has had an impact on his academics as well: Mrs. Thomas observes, “it has strengthened his writing abilities and sharpened his way of thinking.”

As Carlos approaches his last year of high school, Mrs. Thomas reflects that she’s been consistently “impressed with the level of education Thurgood Marshall Academy provides. Their programs and curriculum are rigorous. They require the students to think independently, critically, and explore options outside the classrooms. From examining Carlos’ assignments, I feel that Thurgood Marshall Academy has set a good work ethic foundation for him to be prepared and succeed in college.”

Executive Director Alexandra Pardo to Leave Thurgood Marshall Academy at the End of the 2014-15 School Year

Alexandra Pardo announced today that she will be leaving her position as Executive Director of Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School on July 30, 2015, at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. Thurgood Marshall Academy is ranked as one of the highest non-selective high school in the District of Columbia, and as one of the nation’s best-performing public charter high schools. Under Alexandra’s leadership, Thurgood Marshall Academy has graduated over 500 students, 100% of whom gained acceptance to college and 85% of whom graduated from or are still enrolled in college. Thurgood Marshall Academy alumni are graduating college at rates five times higher than their neighborhood peers, truly fulfilling the school’s mission and changing their communities. Across all college pathway metrics, Thurgood Marshall Academy students are outperforming national and local outcomes.

In reflecting on her time at the school, Alexandra says, “I have enjoyed working with our Board, faculty, staff, students, parents and our entire community to ensure that we are executing Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission and serving the needs of our students and alumni while providing a top-tier high school program. Our success as a community would not be possible without the dynamic faculty and staff who work tirelessly each day for our students. I will leave at the end of this school year knowing that the school’s achievements will continue with the commitment of the faculty, staff, students, parents and Board members to our founding mission.”

Kannon Shanmugam, Chair of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Board of Trustees, expressed the Board’s appreciation for Alexandra’s years of accomplishment at the school. “Alexandra is a rare talent who has dedicated years of her life to making Thurgood Marshall Academy the gold standard of public education. I know I speak for the entire Thurgood Marshall Academy community when I say that we will miss her very much. We are sorry to see Alexandra go, but we wish her great success in her future endeavors.”

Alexandra has been at Thurgood Marshall Academy for eight years, first as Academic Director (2006-2011), and then as Executive Director from 2011 to the present.

The Board of Trustees also announced today that the search for a new Executive Director would begin immediately. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. However, preference will be given to those received before Friday, October 17, 2014. A job description may be found here. Inquiries about the position should be directed to Executive Director Search.