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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.”