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A Parent's Perspective: Interview with Mrs. Betty Jackson

As her daughter MaKayla Jackson kicks off her final year of high school, Mrs. Betty Jackson reflects on her experience as a Thurgood Marshall Academy parent.

When researching MaKayla’s options for high school, Mrs. Jackson notes that her family specifically sought Thurgood Marshall Academy because of its Tier 1 status, the highest designation from the DC Public Charter School Board, “[because] private school was not an option for our family.” Thurgood Marshall Academy wasn’t the only top-school the Jacksons considered when making the decision of where MaKayla would attend high school. MaKayla was offered interview opportunities at Banneker High School, McKinley Tech, and other selective DCPS high schools. But based on their interactions with the school’s faculty and staff – particularly with Executive Director Alexandra Pardo – the Jacksons decided that Thurgood Marshall Academy would be the best option for their family. “Mrs. Pardo goes out of her way, pulls up her sleeves, and truly listens to the concerns of her parents and her students. She knows her students. She knows their struggles and is genuinely concerned about every single one of them,” Mrs. Jackson explains.

The family was also impressed by the differentiated instruction that students received at Thurgood Marshall Academy. At other schools, says Mrs. Jackson, “there was a cookie-cutter method” to the educational models where “you either fit in or you did not,” while Thurgood Marshall Academy programs were tailored to each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

With its rigorous academics and wide range of out-of-school programs, “Thurgood Marshall Academy has provided so many opportunities for MaKayla,” including the chance to take college courses at University of the District of Columbia. “She wouldn’t have that option at other schools,” says Mrs. Jackson. Outside the classroom, MaKayla is a member of SASS – “Sister Action, Sister Strength” – an after-school club that empowers young women and focuses on building health relationships. She’s also a member of the Green Club, and a regular fixture after school, remaining in the building at the end of the day to volunteer with teachers and the programs staff, earning community service hours for her efforts.

It’s not just the students who benefit from wrap-around support programs; Thurgood Marshall Academy plans workshops that empower families as well. Mrs. Jackson is a regular attendee at Thurgood Marshall Academy’s parent and family workshops, and has committed to a leadership position within the school as a member of the Board of Trustees. In particular, she highlights her experiences at the school’s College Nights, which prepare families for the college application process, and the financial commitments of an undergraduate education. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the information provided,” says Mrs. Jackson. “These discussions allow me to see and meet some one of my daughter’s classmates, in addition to setting goals for MaKayla as we prepare for the next steps.”