Warrior Debaters Shine at December Tournament

Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Debate Team continues to make waves in the DC Urban Debate League circuit this year. We had both veteran and novice teams competing at the Saturday, December 13th tournament, held at Washington Latin Public Charter School going head-to-head against new teams from the region that have recently joined the local debate circuit.

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We are proud to announce that senior debater Cer’cia Wallace  was recognized as a top 10 individual speaker. She also excelled in team debate as well. She, along with sophomore Kiara Clark, recorded a top-10 team placement (7th place). We’re proud of all the Warrior Debaters who brought their A-game this weekend, including seniors Eric Izzard and Sydni Foshee, and our team of novice debaters, sophomores Jeremiah Simms and Rose Bowers.

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Our next tournament will be on home turf – Thurgood Marshall Academy will be hosting the February tournament on Saturday, February 21st.

TMA Sophomores and Juniors Prepare for a Trip to Remember

How many high school students do you know who have travelled to Tanzania to work on a wildlife sanctuary and volunteer in the local community?

This coming summer, the Thurgood Marshall Academy community will know at least 10 sophomores and juniors who have taken the journey of a lifetime: two weeks of living and working on the Ndarakwai Ranch in Tanzania as part of The Ndarakwai Experience, a new service learning opportunity for DC high school students. The Thurgood Marshall Academy students selected to travel to Tanzania this summer will be the first cohort of students to participate in the Ndarakwai Experience.

The Ndarakwai Experience, founded by the father-daughter team of DC natives Stan and Anna Soloway, provides inner city youth with the opportunity to develop a sense of global responsibility and to grow in their understanding of their relationship with the world through international learning and service. The program, says Stan, “evolved from our family’s love of the city and commitment to both education and community service.”

The Ndarakwai Experience was born two years ago, when the Soloway family spent time at Ndarakwai Ranch on a family vacation. “While we were there, we began musing about the extraordinary learning and service opportunities the ranch could provide young people,” says Stan.

Anna and Stan also believe firmly in the power of international education. “There is enormous evidence that international learning has a lifelong impact on one’s sense of self in the broader world, one’s self confidence, and maturity,” explains Anna. “If you combine the well documented impact of international learning, with what we also know about community service and its impact on lifelong civic engagement, we believe the end result is truly life-changing.”

The ranch, a private conservancy, has been a leader in local and regional efforts to fight wildlife poaching in Tanzania. In addition to serving as a wildlife sanctuary, the Ndarakwai Ranch also has strong roots in serving the local community: its staff provides lunch for students at the local primary and secondary schools, and repairs and constructs school facilities. The family returned from the trip and launched the Ndarakwai Experience in 2014 to turn their dream into reality.

The Soloway family decided to pilot the Ndarakwai Experience at Thurgood Marshall Academy due to its “great reputation for its values and educational quality. For a program of this type to deliver to students its real value and impact, it is important that we have an educational partner with those qualities,” Anna explains.

Beyond the school’s strong academics, Thurgood Marshall Academy stood out for its culture of learning and role in community. This is critical to the mission of the Ndarakwai Experience: “This is not just an international trip,” says Anna. The Ndarakwai Experience is particularly unique for its service learning component focusing on a developing country and its local communities. “It is designed to be a powerful learning experience on many levels. The kind of students to which Thurgood Marshall Academy appeals are the very kind of students who will gain the most from the experience,” Anna explains.

To prepare for the program, Anna and Stan are “developing a series of orientation and learning sessions that will take place 10-12 weeks prior to the trip that will include discussions on local culture, history, arts, and more.” They also plan to coordinate with a language instructor to teach students basic Swahili. Preparation for the trip also extends to families; the Soloways plan to meet with students’ parents and guardians to talk through a wide range of practical and personal issues or challenges that could arise while traveling.

During the program, the students will engage in a variety of activities, which include wildlife conservation activities, building and repairing school buildings,volunteering to support local students, and attending lectures on Maasai tribal life, music, art, and history. Overall, Stan explains that through The Ndarakwai Experience, “our hope is that the students will be able to experience something so completely different that it will help them define how this relates to their place and role not just in their communities but in the larger global society.”





In Memoriam: Marion S. Barry Jr.

Thurgood Marshall Academy extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of DC Councilmember and former Mayor Marion Barry Jr.

We remember Mr. Barry as an indefatigable advocate for youth citywide. Throughout his tenures as both Mayor and Councilmember, Mr. Barry maintained his focus on creating and supporting high quality educational institutions, valuable summer programs, and creating job opportunities. His legacy as a civil rights activist extends most clearly in his belief that all children, no matter their race or economic backgrounds, have an inalienable right to a world class education.

Thurgood Marshall Academy, and our students and families have also been personally touched by Mr. Barry: he attended our annual gala, dropped in to congratulate students for their hard work and academic achievements during graduation, and served as a witness for our school’s transformative impact on our students. His faith in the potential for youth from Ward 8 mirrored his unwavering support for Thurgood Marshall Academy and the community we serve.

We’re Tier 1!

For the fourth consecutive year, Thurgood Marshall Academy has been designated 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 this distinction in 2014.

Each year, the DC PCSB collects data on year-end student outcomes from each public charter school in the city for its Performance Management 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 and college acceptance rates, daily attendance, and re-enrollment rates. Based on these outcomes, Thurgood Marshall Academy scored among the highest in the city, earning the DC PCSB’s Tier 1 status.

Our Impact

In its 14-year history, Thurgood Marshall Academy has shown that academic achievement and college access is possible for all students, regardless of their family income status, race, or community. Like the PMF, Thurgood Marshall Academy doesn’t measure its success through a single statistic. We look at a battery of data to see how our programs support student growth and college and career readiness across all grade levels.

Our students not only outperformed their peers throughout the city on the DC CAS – the state examination given to all 10th graders – but also on nationally administered tests such the SAT or Advanced Placement exams. Equally important are our students’ academic growth, grade promotion, and college acceptance rates – all of which show the impact of our programs.

Thurgood Marshall Academy students, 100% of whom are African-American, and nearly 80% of whom qualify for federal free and reduced meals, defy the odds for youth from Ward 8 – home to the majority of our students. Most of our 9th graders arrive with the reading and math skills of a 5th grader. But through rigorous, data-driven instruction and an unwavering belief in each student’s ability to perform at high academic standards, our teachers help freshmen transform into college-ready high school graduates.

Our students, 100% of whom are accepted to college, come from a community in which only one in 10 adults holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Despite this, our alumni enroll in and graduate from college at rates higher than the national average. Sixty-five percent of our alumni hold a bachelor’s degree, compared the nation-wide average of 59% across all demographics.

We are proud of the impact we have made on low-income and minority youth in DC, and thrilled that our successes have also been noticed by local organizations such as the DC Public Charter School Board, and beyond city limits. Thurgood Marshall Academy has also been lauded nationally by the National Center for Urban School Transformation, the Coalition of School Educating Boys of Color, and US News & World Report – to name a few – for the high-quality education we provide to students from underserved communities.

Thank you for supporting us in all the work that we do.

Alexandra Pardo
Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Academy

Catching Up With TMA Alumna Tamiya Hall

“Anyone at Thurgood Marshall Academy could tell you that I’ve changed” says Tamiya Hall, a 2014 graduate and a current freshman at Norfolk State University (NSU). Now mid-way through her first semester, Tamiya’s transition to undergrad marks the end of a long personal journey into a goal-oriented college student: “I have truly changed my perspective on school and life, and I am proud of myself.”


A Window on the World: Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Abroad Initiative Enters its 5th Year

Spanish language immersion. Hiking through the mountainous rain forest. Learning indigenous arts from families in rural villages. Sampling Costa Rican cuisine. “I can already picture it,” says Junior Asia Boulware. “The warm, fresh, clean air. The busy roads and marketplaces. The beautiful, immense jungle.”

Sounds like a dream come true? These are the scenes that students at Thurgood Marshall Academy look forward to when they commit to the Abroad Initiative, an after-school club focusing on language immersion, community service, and international travel.


Thurgood Marshall Academy Launches its College Counseling Institute

With the support of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s SOAR Act Initiative, Thurgood Marshall Academy launched its College Counseling Institute this morning, joined by peers from the District of Columbia Public Schools, Paul PCS, Two Rivers PCS, Maya Angelou PCS, IDEA PCS, YouthBuild PCS, BASIS DC PCS, Cesar Chavez PCS, Washington Latin PCS, and National Collegiate PCS.

The College Counseling Institute strives to share Thurgood Marshall Academy’s experiences and recommendations for best practices in college counseling and alumni support with local public and public charter schools, improving graduation, college acceptance, and college retention rates for youth throughout DC. The Institute is a year-long program designed to share best practices from Thurgood Marshall Academy and participating schools in areas such as creating a college going culture, managing and improving the college application process, maximizing standardized testing for college success, demystifying the financial aid process, and alumni support.


TMA's Class of 2014 Exceeded City-Wide Average SAT Score

Last week, the College Board released data on student achievement in the District of Columbia on the SAT for the Class of 2014.

At 1,241, our students’ combined math, verbal, and writing score was over 100 points higher than the average for all District of Columbia students (1,115) in public high schools, both charter and traditional. In 2014, our students’ combined average SAT score also exceeded that of African-American test takers in the city at public, public charter, and private high schools, whose average combined score was 1,127.

Put differently, Thurgood Marshall Academy students’ SAT scores represent a true difference between the preparation that our students receive while in high school – preparation that includes double block English and math for all 9th and 10th graders, an in-house, half semester SAT course, free access to online study resources through Kaplan Test Prep, or the availability of an after-school study session with the Carver Group – compared to that of their peers city-wide.

These results confirm what we had already knew: that Thurgood Marshall Academy students are college-ready, and prepared for the challenge of college-level academics.

For more information on city-wide SAT performance, please visit the College Board website.

Thank You To Our 2014-15 Mentors!

To all of our mentors – veteran and novice – we thank you for joining us for this year’s Mentor Program! We have officially reached our capacity for Mentors this year, but we encourage you to check back with Thurgood Marshall Academy in Summer 2015 for Mentor positions available in the 2015-16 school year.

Still want to get involved, but not sure how? Check out our volunteer page for tutoring opportunities, or information on several of our signature programs, including Job Shadow Day, Brown Bag Lunches, or our Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Application Help Day.

Warrior Debaters Earn 2nd Place for Overall Wins at the Inaugural Debate Tournament of 2014-15

Congratulations are in order for our Warrior Debaters! Thurgood Marshall Academy brought four teams to the first debate tournament of the 2014-15 school year, held at Cesar Chavez Parkside Campus. Out of dozens of both novice and varsity debaters, the Warrior Debaters brought home many awards! Here are the results:

Novice (first time debaters):
2nd overall novice team –Copeland Barbee and Kiara Clark
4th place individual speaker – Kiara Clark
5th place individual speaker – Copeland Barbee

4th place team – Cer’cia Wallace (debating solo!)
6th place team – Anthonya James and Eric Izzard
6th place individual speaker – Cer’cia Wallace
8th place individual speaker – Anthonya James
8th place team – Keneon Williams and Sakina Musa
10th place individual speaker – Eric Izzard

School Awards (total number of wins):
2nd place overall

Special thanks to the dedicated debaters who all participated! This is the first time every single student who came to compete was recognized by either an individual or team award. We’d also like to recognize the debaters who came to support their teammates, and learn about debate by observing the competition. Special thanks to Eleanor Lewis for her continued support, helping our debaters research strong arguments and work on their oratorical style.

Stay tuned for updates about our next tournament, which will take place on November 15th.