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2017 College Acceptance Ceremony

Last week, Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) hosted its annual College Acceptance Ceremony. Continuing TMA’s 13-year tradition, one hundred percent of seniors in the Class of 2017 were accepted to college! Seniors collectively applied to more than 250 schools and accepted to NYU – Tisch School of the Arts, Norfolk State University, University of Redlands, Syracuse University, Temple University and University of Virginia. Scholarships awards to students in the Class of 2017 totaled over $8 million. Students earned scholarships from the College Success Foundation – DC Achievers Scholarship, Comcast Achievement Award Scholarship, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Economic Club of Washington DC, John G. Stone III Scholarship Fund, Korean American Grocers Association, The Motley Fool, The Posse Foundation and Washington Post Press Pass Mentors Scholarship. Congratulations Class of 2017!

Want to hear more from the Class of 2017? Make sure to like TMA on Facebook.

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Thurgood Marshall Academy welcomes Mrs. Betsy DeVos to celebrate National School Choice Week

 

WASHINGTON — Today, Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) welcomed Mrs. Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education, to celebrate National School Choice Week. Mrs. DeVos is a long-time supporter of school choice and charter schools.

During the visit, Mrs. DeVos toured the school and heard from several students who reflected on why TMA and school choice is important to their education and the community. Also, school leaders had an opportunity to speak with Mrs. DeVos about issues impacting TMA – specifically, the importance of providing strong social services in addition to rigorous academics, creating a safe environment through anti-bullying and Restorative Justice efforts, and charter school autonomy in achieving our strong academic outcomes.

“We are so proud of our students, they did a great job telling their story and raising issues important to their lives at school and in our community,” said Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Executive Director.

Thurgood Marshall Academy understands many people in the community have different beliefs than those expressed by the current administration. Mr. Pohlman continues, “However, it is important that engagement not be limited to those that share common views, but as a community, TMA challenges itself and its students to engage in discourse across ideological difference.”

TMA’s mission is to “prepare students for college and to be actively engaged in our democratic society,” and has a goal to model what civic engagement means for students — to use areas of common ground as a springboard for discussions about areas where it may be different. TMA hopes its discussion with Mrs. DeVos and her experience today will have a positive impact on the many students in schools throughout the country.

 

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About Thurgood Marshall Academy: Founded in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and actively engage in our democratic society. Thurgood Marshall Academy is an open enrollment public charter high school in Ward 8’s Anacostia. It is one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the District and serves 400 students. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through its commitment to providing an excellent education for all students

TMA Annonuces New Partnership with Howard Law

10th graders practicing their elevator pitch in a small group setting.

Thurgood Marshall Academy is thrilled to announce our new partnership with Howard Law School. At TMA, we pride ourselves on integrating law-related components across our curriculum for all of our students. This year, we wanted to provide an opportunity for our 10th graders to work with young professionals in DC who are dedicated to the field of law. Howard Law Academy will allow our 10th graders to meet quarterly with Howard University Law students, dissect the amendments and apply their learning to everyday situations.

For their second session, the students in Howard Law Academy had an opportunity to learn about the First Amendment – Freedom of Expression. Students actively engaged in a discussion regarding how to self-express through a dress code, limitations on freedom of expression, professionalism on social media and how to effectively craft “your brand”. For the second half of the session, the students applied what they learned and created elevator pitches.

Howard Law students emphasized to the students in order to create an effective elevator pitch that allows you to stand out, students must dig deep and critically think about their long term goals, skills, and passion. Students were given ample time to draft their pitch, receive feedback from Howard Law students and their peers and competed to have the number one elevator pitch.

As the next two sessions are not until the spring, student have already submitted ideas for topics they are interested in learning more about. We know this partnership will add value to our students understanding of the amendments and continue to prepare them to actively participate in our democratic society.

Thurgood Marshall Academy Named Tier 1 School

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WASHINGTON — Once again, Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) has been named a Tier 1 school by the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), the organization that authorizes and ranks public charter schools in Washington, DC. Thurgood Marshall Academy is among just six public charter high schools to earn the distinction in 2016.

Each year, the DC PCSB collects data on student outcomes from each public charter school in the city for its Performance Framework (PMF). The PMF offers a comprehensive picture of our school-wide success. The PMF considers data beyond state reading and math test scores, reflecting our students’ academic growth, college entry metrics, graduation, college acceptance rates, daily attendance, and re-enrollment rates. Based on these outcomes, TMA scored one of the highest in the city, earning the DC PCSB’s Tier 1 status.

In its 16-year history, TMA has shown that academic achievement and college access is possible for all students, regardless of their family income statues, race or community. Like the PMF, Thurgood Marshall Academy does not measure its success through a single statistic. School Leadership looks at an abundance of data to see how programs support student growth and college and career readiness across all grade levels.

TMA students, 99% of whom are African-American, and nearly 72% of whom qualify for federal free and reduce meals, defy the odds for youth from Ward 8 – home to the majority of our students. Most of TMA’s 9th graders arrive two to five years behind grade level in math and reading. This past year, TMA’s 10th graders took the PARCC exam and outperformed their peers across all subgroups; most notably, on the math portion, students had a 15% gain from last year. For the past 12 years, 100% of TMA’s graduates have been accepted to college. Last year, more than 85% of graduating students enrolled in college within one year of graduation. More than 62% of students successfully complete college within five years, compared to 5% from Wards 7 and 8.

“We are extremely proud of our results. Through rigorous, data-driven instruction and an unwavering belief in each student’s ability to perform at high academic standards, our teacher’s help our students transform into college-ready high school graduates,” said Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Executive Director.

 

To see the full PMF ratings and report, please CLICK HERE

 

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About Thurgood Marshall Academy: Founded in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and actively engage in our democratic society. Thurgood Marshall Academy is an open enrollment public charter high school in Ward 8’s Anacostia. It is one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the District and serves 400 students. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through its commitment to providing an excellent education for all students.

TMA Students Trained to be Poll Workers

p1040968At TMA, students are continuously give the opportunity to be active citizens and help put democracy in action. On Election Day, 46 Thurgood Marshall Academy seniors were placed at different voting locations to be poll workers. Prior to becoming poll workers, students spent 2.5 hours in a training learning how elections are conducted and received hands on experience on how to provide assistance to voters at the polls. This experience allowed our students to be exposed and gain a lifelong appreciation for the democratic process.

Thurgood Marshall Academy Students Outperform Peers on PARCC

WASHINGTON – Results on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) show that Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) is the best high school East of the River, and remains one of the top-performing high schools in the District of Columbia.

TMA’s tenth graders took the PARCC exam and outperformed their peers across all subgroups; most notably, on the math portion, students had a 15% gain from last year. The chart below shows the percentage of TMA students who met or exceeded expectations (Level 4+), compared to all high schools city-wide.

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“These results are a testament to our students’ hard work and the teachers and staff who prepared them,” said Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Executive Director. “While a great number of our students are on track to graduate college-ready, we continue to focus on ensuring that all of our students have the tools necessary to succeed in college and beyond.”

Each year, more than half of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s incoming students arrive with math and reading skills below grade level; yet by the time they graduate, they are enrolling and attending college at rates far above the District and national averages. For the past 12 years, 100% of TMA’s graduates have been accepted to college. Last year, more than 85% of graduating students enrolled in college within one year of graduation. More than 62% of our graduates successfully complete college within five years, compared to 5% from Wards 7 and 8.

This is the second year for PARCC exams – the Common Core-aligned assessment of K-12 students in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, which replaced the DC CAS. Because it is more rigorous and presents a fuller picture of student learning, PARCC is considered to be a better indicator of college and career readiness for students. Results are scored on a level of 1 to 5; for tenth graders, a Level 4 or 5 indicates they are on track to leave high school college and career ready.

When the District announced the transition to PARCC in 2011, Thurgood Marshall Academy took a number of steps to prepare, including aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments with the new, more rigorous Common Core standards. “We are so proud of our students’ academic progress – there is much to celebrate,” said Melanie Sala, Head of School. “We will continue to refine our curriculum to meet the needs of all students, and are focusing on areas of growth.”
More information about PARCC can be found at www.osse.dc.gov/parcc.

 

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About Thurgood Marshall Academy: Founded in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and actively engage in our democratic society. Thurgood Marshall Academy is an open enrollment public charter high school in Ward 8’s Anacostia. It is one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the District and serves 400 students. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through its commitment to providing an excellent education for all students.

Positive Role Models Keep Students on Track

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Mr. Bruno works closely with students in Senior Seminar and helps them navigate the college application process.

After leaving a government contractor job at the Pentagon in 2015, Kevin Bruno didn’t know what was next. He just knew that the “routine position” left him feeling unfulfilled and in search for something more rewarding. During the summer of that year, Mr. Bruno applied for open substitute teacher positions at high schools in East of the River communities—neighborhoods where “students see more negativity than success.” Though Mr. Bruno had very little teaching experience, he believed that just being a school presence and a positive role model as a black man could be helpful to students from Wards 7 and 8.

“When I was in high school, there was only one black male teacher in the school,” he said. Mr. Bruno credits Justin Williams, Special Education Teacher, Sanjay Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming, and other African-American longtime faculty and staff who, he says, gives students a positive image of black men. “For the young boys who don’t have a father-figure in the home or positive male influences in their communities, they have a hard time believing that they can be different because they don’t see it.”

When Mr. Bruno took on a long-term substitute position at Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA), he learned quickly about TMA’s tier 1 status and the school’s expectations of students. He taught mostly freshmen classes, filling in for English teachers and he even taught Summer Prep English this past summer. “By the time freshmen make it to senior year, they have proven to be scholars. After four years of TMA’s rigorous curriculum, students are ready for college,” he says.

Mr. Bruno’s long-term sub position opened the door to infinite possibilities and now Mr. Bruno is a full-time staff member at TMA, supporting the College Counseling Department as the Alumni Program and College Counseling Associate. Shifting from the day-to-day classroom experience to the office setting, Mr. Bruno says that he’s looking forward to the challenge. “In my new role, I interact mostly with alumni.”

Mr. Bruno also teaches Senior Seminar, a course where 12th graders delve into the college application process. This part of the position has come full circle for Mr. Bruno, who worked in the admissions office at Virginia State University. As a Student Ambassador, he led guided tours, scheduled and coordinated open houses, oversaw freshmen orientation, and assessed applications. Mr. Bruno advises students to “just be yourself” when completing college applications. “Yes, your transcript is important but it’s the things you’ve done outside of the classroom that will set you apart.”

Shifting to the college counseling side, Mr. Bruno sees how TMA’s family culture doesn’t end once students head off to college. He oversees the school’s Emergency Alumni Fund and has already assisted alumni from four different classes with books and travel expenses to campus. Currently, he’s planning Senior Parent College Night, which, for the first time, will feature TMA alumni and their parents who will share how the college experience is very much a family commitment.

“Senior year can be very stressful for students but when they have a community of support at school and at home, that takes a lot of pressure off. Once they’re accepted to college, everyone in their circle realizes that the hard work really was worth it,” he ends.

 

Executive Director Pens Open Letter to TMA Teachers

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Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Executive Director, is excited to see how the school year unfolds.

Dear TMA Warriors:

For the past two weeks, during Teacher Academy and as we prepared ourselves to be and do our best for students, I was reminded why the work we do as educators is important. Our namesake, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, is the driving force behind our mission—to prepare students to succeed in college and to actively engage in our democratic society. I know that each of you are here to do the work that matters for our students and families—to make sure that the education inequity that has persisted for years for many of our students ends when they walk through our doors.

It is so inspiring to watch all of you, a capable group of dedicated teachers and school leaders, work increasingly hard to make sure that each of our students is pushed to be great and given a place to be themselves. In 1954, the year Justice Marshall won Brown v. Board of Education, the historic case that outlawed ‘separate but equal’ schools in America, Mr. Marshall celebrated the milestone but acknowledged that, as a nation, “our work has just begun.”

While we still have work to do so that all students have access to an excellent education no matter where she or he might reside, I am proud of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s commitment to student success. Every day, your role as a devoted educator carries on the ‘work’ that Mr. Marshall advocated for more than 60 years ago.

Thank you all for all that you do, and happy first day of 2016-2017!

Sincerely,

RichPohlman

Richard Pohlman
Executive Director

TMA Continues to Include Families in Students’ College Career Planning

For 15 years, Thurgood Marshall Academy has been providing college preparatory resources to students from Wards 7 and 8, DC’s most underserved neighborhoods. In addition to academically rigorous courses, a law-themed curriculum, and free after-school enrichment activities, TMA is one of a handful of schools in Southeast, DC that offers a full-service College Counseling Department. The College and Alumni team give students the tools they need to get into, enroll and succeed in, and graduate from college. Now, with a new partnership with Flamboyan Foundation’s Family Engagement in College Readiness Learning Program, TMA can continue to extend college access services to families by including parents and guardians in their student’s college career planning.

“Most of our students are first-generation college goers,” said Sanjay Mitchell, TMA’s Director of College and Alumni Programming. “Therefore, it’s key that their parents understand not just the college application process, but other elements like financing college, scholarship opportunities, financial aid requirements, and so much more.”

Working alongside Flamboyan Foundation, Mr. Mitchell developed a new family engagement initiative to incorporate into TMA’s college access program. Last year, parents were invited to join students on a five-day college tour for the junior class. Forty-four families participated in college programs that were specific to 11th graders, and 13 family members attended a TMA-coordinated college trip with their student.

TMA’s list of annual family engagement college activities also include Senior Parent College Night, Application Help Night, FAFSA Informational Night, Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Day, and FAFSA Tax Night. Approximately 90% of parents and families attended local in-school activities and college-planning workshops. “These programs shed light on the avenues that parents and families need to take so that they can be advocates for their student’s post-secondary career,” said Mr. Mitchell.

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Ty Harris, who parents two recent TMA graduates, participated in Flamboyan Foundation’s focus group interview.

Recently, Flamboyan Foundation conducted focus group interviews with 12 TMA parents and families to learn how TMA makes them feel ‘welcomed,’ how this quality is influential in helping them, as parents, take an active role in their child’s academic success, and what areas TMA can improve upon to better engage families this school year. During the focus group interviews, which were hosted on-site at TMA, parents and students alike shared that teachers have proven to have the ability to address academic challenges and work closely with students to develop a plan of action.

Flamboyan Foundation partners with TMA and college counselors from four other high schools that participate in a professional learning community to share best practices and findings about family engagement in college readiness programs across the District.

This year, Mr. Mitchell will continue to develop a program for families to help students persist at the college where they originally enroll.

 

Meet Martrice Gandy, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s New Director of Specialized Instruction

Martrice GandyMartrice Gandy, Director of Specialized Instruction, is passionately committed to building rigorous, equitable, and inclusive spaces for students with disabilities through innovative collaboration between schools, families, and non-profit organizations. She is a native of Niagara Falls, NY but has lived in the DC/MD area for almost 10 years. Miss Gandy started her formal career in teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools through the Baltimore City Teaching Residency program after being inspired to begin teaching special populations from her undergraduate work in the AmeriCorp Jumpstart program in Charlottesville, VA. While in Baltimore, Miss Gandy served as a Special Educator, an English teacher, and eventually a Special Education Coordinator. She was then awarded an Education Pioneers Graduate Fellowship in which she consulted on talent and performance management projects for the TNTP – Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (PLUS) program in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ. She has also worked with Leading Educators and DC Public Schools as an English teacher and English Department Chair through the Teacher Leadership Institute (TLI) program. Miss Gandy has participated in, presented on special topics, and consulted for several educational organizations, charter school boards, and professional organizations. In addition to working at TMA, Miss Gandy serves as a Special Education Advocate for parents in Maryland. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English/Philosophy from the University of Virginia, and a Master’s of Science in Educational Leadership and Graduate Certification in School Administration from Drexel University.