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Archive for August, 2017

Why Teacher Academy Matters

The start of the school year begins with Teacher Academy, an intensive two-week professional development training for new and returning faculty and staff. The Academy allows new staff to get acquainted with Thurgood Marshall Academy’s (TMA) culture and provides a framework of collaboration, inspiration and drive for the year.

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, teachers participated in a series of facilitated sessions reflecting on areas of strength and growth as a school. Together, staff chose focus areas that would most powerfully impact instructional culture and student achievement. The Academic Leadership Team spent the summer crafting a Teacher Academy schedule that provided uninterrupted time to continue and expand on academics and culture.

Alexa Stevens, 9th grade Spanish teacher, was grateful to start the school year with Teacher Academy. “I am in year two of my teaching career, so the Academy centered me from my summer vacation and brought my full attention back to my role.” Teaching Spanish was not what Stevens planned when she joined TMA in 2015 as an academic volunteer on the College Counseling team. As her volunteer year was coming to an end, Stevens was asked to teach Spanish during summer school. During those five weeks, she realized how much she enjoyed being in front of students and quickly expressed an interest in applying for the open Spanish teacher position in 2016.

Fast forward two years, Stevens has many benefits to add to the list. “This time is needed to make sure my team and I are prepared for success. I spent last year finding my teacher voice and building my tool kit. Teacher Academy gave me time to reflect on what worked, unpack tricky scenarios with my academic team, provide input on school and academic culture, and most importantly, spend time getting to know my 9th grade team.”

The work completed by TMA faculty and staff during the Academy will continue throughout the year. Melanie Sala, Head of School says, “It is important we continue to collaborate as a school on the goals set during those two weeks. I am looking forward to an engaging and rigorous year!”

Alumni Blogpost: My Experience Interning for the DC City Council

By Tavian Southall – (TMA ’17 & Goucher College ’21)

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work for the DC District Council as an intern! The wonderful staff at Mikva Challenge DC made it their mission to place high school students and recent high school graduates in District Government agencies as interns. The purpose of the internship was to ensure that District youth are seen as valuable resources to DC officials and community leaders, and to help DC youth learn about local government. I was placed in my Ward 5 Council Member Kenyan McDuffie’s Office.

Everyone in the office was extremely friendly when I arrived for my first day. My supervisor for the summer, Chief of Staff Ronan Gulstone, gave me a tour of the Councilmember’s committee and council offices, and even took me out to lunch. I was excited to learn I would work out of Councilmember McDuffie’s committee office, where I would have my own desk space, computer and Council email account.

During my time as an intern, I was not expecting to work on as many projects as I did. I wrote memorandums for public records and the Councilmember, attended Legislative meetings, and created a plan to increase opportunities for youth engagement in the District. I believe youth are the future and should be offered as many experiences to become as successful as possible. For my plan, I drafted a document that explained the issues, solutions and possible legislation. Luckily, through a little research, I was able to find written legislation that was intended to create a Youth Council at the District Council. Unfortunately, a week later, I was informed that this Youth Council had not been initiated. And so, I made it my mission to create a similar group that would work under the District Council, but work independently, similar to the District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

I am so humbled to have been offered this internship. I was able to experience what it is like working for a Councilmember, made lifelong connections with people in the office, and am even more motivated towards my future goals – graduating from college and starting my own nonprofit that focuses on youth engagement and education in DC.