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Teacher Blogpost: My Teaching Experience at Thurgood Marshall Academy

Over the years, we’ve had many great teachers that have been such a tremendous asset to Thurgood Marshall Academy. One of our Science teachers, Ms. Enrich, reflects on her time at TMA.


How long have you been at TMA? What classes are you responsible for at TMA?

I have been at Thurgood Marshall Academy for 7 years. I have taught all things Chemistry – Chemistry 1, Chemistry 1 Honors, and AP Chemistry.


What are some high points about teaching at TMA?

I have had so much fun teaching at TMA. I love finding ways to make a seemingly dull and challenging content interesting, engaging, and accessible for students (such as Mole Day!). I have always been supported in my methods and that allows me to feel comfortable trying new things, even in my 11th year of teaching. I have also appreciated being trusted to start our AP science program at TMA; it has given me the opportunity to work with students for two consecutive years and really push them towards college-preparedness.


Anything about Mole Day you want to share?

OMG I love Mole Day! And it’s not just a Ms. Enrich thing, it’s a real holiday celebrated by chemists across the world. So that means it can continue even in my absence. I love that it is an annual holiday treasured here at TMA and has become a part of TMA’s culture.


What do you see as TMA strengths?

The ability to work through adversity and to grow from it. The ability to persevere. The faculty is innovative and student-motivated. The students push us to be and do our best daily.


Any words of advice?

Take advantage of all the world has to offer you!


Students shadow professionals in their field of choice

On Wednesday, May 16th, students from Thurgood Marshall Academy went out into the greater DMV area to learn more about what it means to be a professional in the workplace during Job Shadow Day. Our students were matched with organizations that they indicated to have special interest in, and might pursue as potential places of employment after graduation or college. Students engaged in typical workday activities and learned more about the skills needed to become successful in their field of choice.

One of our juniors, Jasani Briscoe, shadowed professionals at the Administrative Office of US Courts: Security Operations.

TMA Students Enjoy Nature on Camping Trip

Each year students in TMA’s Wilderness Club escape the city and spend two nights at a nearby state park. Senior Kamaree Ward shared his experiences on this year’s camping trip:

I’ve been a member of the Wilderness Club since the 10th grade. We take lots of hiking trips throughout the year to prepare for the big camping trip in May. This year 10 students and two advisors, Ms. Culbreath and Ms. Schwartz, traveled to Smallwood State Park in Charles County, Maryland, about a 45-minute drive from DC.

The camping trip lasted two days, but it took a lot of planning as a group. We decided what food to bring and what games we would play.

We arrived at the park on Saturday morning, and our first task was to pitch our group tents, then assign chores, for example, who would collect wood for the fire. Then we spent the rest of the day doing different group activities. It has become a tradition to play a game of hide-and-seek on every camping trip.

All of our food was cooked on the fire that we built ourselves. Ms. Culbreath brought homemade “foil packs” with veggies and protein. We also made s’mores and created our own pizzas. On Sunday morning we made breakfast from scratch! Pancakes, eggs and sausage, plus oatmeal and hot cocoa.

Ms. Culbreath wanted us to limit the use of our cell phones. To be honest, it was a struggle! We mostly used the phones for music, but we did try to be cell free. Besides, there were people to talk to and so many activities and games.

I love the camping trips – it reminds me that there is so much to do outdoors. Being in the Wilderness Club teaches me to see my world in a different way and explore nature. 


Thurgood Marshall Academy Hosts Largest College Fair to Date

Last week, Thurgood Marshall Academy hosted its 9th annual College Fair, with 95 college representatives in attendance.

Students from area high schools also attended – Cesar Chavez PCS Parkside High, Cesar Chavez PCS – Capitol Hill Campus, Washington Latin Public Charter School, National Collegiate Prep, Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Washington Math Science Technology PCHS, and E.L. Haynes.

Thurgood Marshall Academy is one of the few schools in Southeast, DC that offers a full-service College Counseling Department, dedicated to preparing students for college. Our College and Alumni team gives students the tools they need to find and enroll into colleges that fits their passion and personality.

At the college fair, students met with admissions staff to learn more about the schools they plan to attend, collected pamphlets and other materials that gave them an inside look to the respective school’s college culture.

Ms. Larson, LVC Volunteer in the College Department, said, “The college fair is really important for our students because they not only get the chance to learn about a wide variety of schools, but they also see that there are so many colleges interested in meeting with them.  Events like these are crucial in helping to steer the conversation about access to post-secondary education in the U.S. and help give students the confidence to pursue higher education.”

Thurgood Marshall Academy continues to provide college preparatory resources to students from Wards 7 and 8, by building long-lasting relationships with colleges and universities across the U.S.



Our Voices Will Be Heard

On March 14th, many of our seniors addressed gun violence, honored the lives of the Parkland victims, and the lives of two Thurgood Marshall Academy students, Zaire Kelly and Paris Brown, during the National School Walkout.

Our students did not stop there. On March 22nd, our students held a very important #NeverAgain Rally with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to demand that their voices be heard. During this Rally, one of our seniors, Zion Kelly, asked a powerful question, “By raise of hands, if you have been affected by gun violence, please raise your hand to honor those you have lost.” Majority of those in the room raised their hand.

Our students are the voice of the community. They are our future leaders, and are the change that can happen. They will continue to voice their concerns and be heard. Our students will participate in the March For Our Lives rally. Our very own Zion Kelly will speak at the rally.


Aniyah Fields: Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship recipient

On March 7th, before seniors departed for a field trip, they gathered in the gym for what they thought was a regular school announcement, however, turned out to be a big surprise for one of our seniors, Aniyah Fields. GWU’s President, Dr. LeBlanc walked out, along with George the mascot, to announce that one of our very own was a recipient of their Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship.

Aniyah became our sixth winner to receive this scholarship to George Washington University, which covers full cost of attendance, and a stipend for her undergraduate career.

Since 1989, George Washington University opened the doors to higher education providing high school students in Washington, D.C. with full-ride scholarships through its Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship (SJT) program.

Students are nominated by their high school counselor, and then they participate in an interview process before being chosen. Recipients are selected based on academic performance, strength of curriculum, leadership qualities, recommendations, and more.

“I nominated Aniyah for the SJT scholarship because she is a bright, talented, and motivated young lady whose humility is as admirable as her work-ethic.  Her commitment to ensuring that students East of the River have access to mentorship and positive role models made her truly a compliment to the mission and purpose of the scholarship.  To me, it was a natural fit and I am glad that the scholarship committee at George Washington University agreed,” said Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming.

Aniyah’s hard work and determination led her to become one of ten deserving students to receive a full-ride scholarship to George Washington University. “As a recipient of the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholarship I feel like a whole new world of opportunity has been made accessible to me. I am ecstatic to see what this newfound experience brings and grateful for the chance to make my dreams a reality!”


Celebrating Our Roots 2018: A Salute to Afrofuturism

What can the future look like for African Americans? This, and other questions were explored during this year’s Celebrating Our Roots performance, which focused on Afrofuturism. Celebrating Our Roots is an annual arts, academic, and music showcase at Thurgood Mars

hall Academy, held during February to coincide with Black History Month.

At this year’s event on Saturday February 23rd guests heard from author Bill Campbell who shared his journey as a black science fiction author and explained why Afrofuturism is more important than ever. Then, guests enjoyed interactive demonstrations  that brought the genre to life – a “beauty bar in the year 3000”, with a face-painting station and featuring iconic images of fashion, hair, and makeup; a literary room, where students dressed as characters from novels  of well-known writers in the Afrofuturism genre (Octavia Butler and Nnendi Okorafor); and a social justice room, in which students shared powerful monologues from movements that gained traction on social media with memorable hashtags including #youoksis and #blackgirlmagic.

Celebrating Our Roots showcase ended with a rousing performance from students in the school’s Fashion, Dance, and Music clubs, who modeled outfits representing African gods, performed dances and sang songs from artists including Solange and Erykah Badu and Parliament.



Boeing and Sodexo Inspire Students with Professional Development Opportunities

On Friday February 23rd, a small group of TMA seniors interested in STEM and business careers joined other students from schools throughout the DMV area at Boeing’s offices in Arlington. Organized by SodexoMagic and hosted by the Boeing Black Employees Association, the event, “Charter Foundations of Success,” was an opportunity for high school students to learn professional development skills, tour Boeing’s facility, and hear from the company’s newest employees about transitioning from college to career.

During breakfast, a special guest welcomed the students with an inspirational song which set the tone of the day. Then, a panel of Boeing employees shared their experiences about applying to college, surviving on campus, choosing a career, and their first few years working for a company. During the Q&A, students asked thoughtful questions about campus life.

Following the panel discussion, students received a rare treat – they toured Boeing’s Collaboration Center, a large suite with multiple interactive digital screens. They also learned professional skills including the right handshake, how to dress for an interview, and place settings for an executive lunch. This last demonstration was timely, as students immediately enjoyed a catered lunch from celebrity Chef G Garvin, now a culinary adviser with SodexoMagic.

The day ended with a presentation on what Sodexo looks for when hiring employees, and a final panel discussion with seasoned professionals, who shared their career journey and gave advice to students on doing what they love.

Dayell Preston, TMA senior, enjoyed the visit. He plans to attend college and study aeronautical engineering. “It was inspiring to see so many black professionals in one space.”

TMA students learn about advocating first hand

Last week, five Thurgood Marshall Academy students engaged in presentations ranging from Women’s Rights to Voting Rights when they attended the Washington D.C. Youth Civil Rights Summit.

This three day summit was created by the American Civil Liberties Union Club at the School Without Walls Senior High School. Students learned about advocating for their rights from ACLU lawyers and keynote speakers. According to 11th grade TMA student, Destiny Young, “It was an amazing opportunity working in groups, meeting new people, and learning about our rights.”

This summit has inspired TMA students to think about possibly starting their own club focused on Civil Rights. Their participation in the Civil Rights Summit aligns with our efforts to encourage our students to be advocates for themselves and for their community.

Letter to TMA Families re: Paris Brown

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January 11, 2018

Dear Families of Thurgood Marshall Academy,

This morning we were informed that one of our students, Paris Brown, died tragically last night. Paris joined our school community this year as an 11th grade student and will be truly missed. Paris was a shining star who loved music and spoken word poetry. He touched many people’s lives in his brief time at Thurgood Marshall Academy and we are saddened to lose another Warrior to gun violence.

Counselors are onsite for any student who may need or want assistance during this time of grief, and we will continue to offer support throughout the coming days and weeks. We are in contact with the family and will share additional details regarding funeral services when they are available.

If you need assistance outside of school hours, please reach out to the Department of Behavioral Health hotline at 1(888)7WE-HELP or 1-888-793-4357.

We are deeply saddened by the loss to our school community, and we extend our deepest sympathies to Paris’ family and friends.

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Richard Pohlman