Programs Director Gives Insight on Enrichment Activities

HBGIn this Q&A, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Program Director, Brandelyn Anderson, sheds light on the importance of enrichment activities and after-school programs. She is head of the Programs Department, which manages and implements more than 20 diverse programs that students participate in every day after school. The programs are designed to expand the learning experience and to introduce students to a number of specialties that help them discover hidden talents. Mrs. Anderson also started the Happy Black Girls Club, a ladies-only program that focuses on building self-esteem.

TMA: Why is it important for students to have a range of extra-curricular programming to participate in?
Mrs. Anderson: High school students are in a really interesting place in life. Quite naturally, at this stage in their lives, they are trying to figure out who they are. By offering a variety of extracurricular programing, we give students a myriad of avenues to explore their interests and talents.


TMA: There appears to be a nice balance between academic related programming like Homework Help, Law Firm Tutoring, and Law Day and social clubs like the fashion club, dance club and drama club. Explain the importance of making both options available for students.
Mrs. Anderson: Law Firm tutoring and Law Day are programs that were designed to enhance the law theme of Thurgood Marshall Academy. Students receive grades or credit for these mandatory programs that give students a closer look at what it means to advocate for themselves and their peers. By providing these unique law related services, students learn legal skills that they can apply to their everyday lives. Programs like homework help were deigned to create a safe, quiet space for students to simply complete their assignments before they go home. With additional access to resources such as the computer lab, library and printers, as well as teachers and tutors who provide one-on-one attention, they learn to prioritize school work and projects. But, TMA also want students to have creative outlets. So that’s where clubs like the Fashion Club or the Drama Club come into play. Students are able to embrace deeper talents that can be nurtured through segmented programs and clubs. The range of creative outlets give students a borderless space to explore buried truths about themselves that eventually come to life.


TMA: How do all programs enrich students’ academics and explain how participation in these programs make college applications more attractive?
Mrs. Anderson: Any college admissions counselor will admit that a 4.0 GPA isn’t the only accomplishment they’re looking for on college applications. Today, a student with a 3.5 GPA and a long list of leadership experience, work experience, and community service experience makes a student attractive and a college application all the more impressive. Participating in enrichment programs enable students to learn how to manage time, prioritize their work load, create systems of success for themselves, and discover hidden talents and interests; these are qualities that are attractive to any college admissions counselor.


TMA: How do students respond to programs that build their characters? How have you seen a change in their performance?
Mrs. Anderson: Students are often leery of programs that are designed to build character. However, once the space is determined to be a safe space, free of judgement where they can be themselves, students begin to blossom and put aside their initial fears. I started the group HBG (Happy Black Girls) as a way to celebrate positivity and happiness with Black women. I handpicked a group of girls who, I discovered, needed a little more extra support and love. I remember the girls being extremely hesitant at the first HBG meeting. They were afraid to open up and let go. But after our first meeting, the girls began thinking of each other as sisters. In that moment, they began to grow. The girls went from having several detentions in one day, failing classes and having high absences, to passing major projects like portfolio with a B or higher, making honor roll and excelling in AP and honors classes. HBG has had a tremendous impact for sure.


TMA: How can partnerships and grants help sustain programs?
Mrs. Anderson: Outside partnerships help students get a fresh perspective. They have resources and programmatic ideas that the school would not otherwise be able to tap into. Programs like SeaPerch teach students how to build underwater robots. HERO, a youth development type of program, works with our young men to provide them with life skills and scholarship opportunities that TMA would not otherwise have access to. Without grants and the generous support of our donors, we wouldn’t be able to have a robust programs department at TMA. We offer more than 20 after-school and enrichment programs. More than 80% of our students participate in these programs. Because of the extra financial support and investment that our donors make, our students have access to wrap-around supports that enhance what they learn in the classroom and give them the opportunities to explore the world before them.



Mrs. Anderson participates in Anti-bullying week

TMA: What is your vision for the Programs department next school year?
Mrs. Anderson: I would like to have more student input on the types of programs we create. Our students have unique and diverse needs. The good news is that if we work alongside students, they can communicate what they hope to get out of the Programs Department and can express the types of activities that will give them a better high school experience and empower them for college. Student input is key. In fact, the Student Government Association (SGA), advised by the Programs Department but led by the students, has taken an active role in voicing what students need and holding the Programs Department accountable for exploring new options. For example, last year’s SGA team worked closely with the Programs Department to plan a series of events for the school’s first-ever Anti-bullying Week, which celebrates student differences and fights against bullying in schools. Students from each grade participated in school-wide events that included a screening and open discussion of the movie ‘Bully’ and a crafts event where students designed T-shirts to wear during the week’s ‘Difference Day,’ the finale event that allowed students to respectfully showcase their differences.


TMA: Any new clubs this year?
Mrs. Anderson: This year we have a Model UN, The Smithsonian Youth Advisory Council, Drama Club, Fashion Club, Anime Club, HBB (Happy Black Brothers), and the Black Awareness Club.



A Basketball Challenge Taken Off the Court: A Coach’s Story

When Thurgood Marshall Academy was in search of a head coach for the Varsity and Junior Varsity Men’s Basketball teams, Lafayette Dublin’s name surfaced on many occasions. A year prior, Dublin brought a Maryland high school basketball team to victory, finishing the season with an 18-5 win-loss record. The bigger victory, though, was Dublin’s ability to implement strategies that benefit players on and off the court, making him a great fit for the Warriors.

Thurgood Marshall AcadmeyWhen Dublin started in 2014, student athletes were quick to find that his approach to prioritizing academics was non-negotiable. “You can’t play without the grades,” he says. All students participating in the athletic program must maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher. “I tell them, ‘eventually these will give out,’” said Dublin as he pointed to his knees. “So they must have a plan B.”

Dublin, who believes ‘discipline starts on the court,’ requires the team to uphold values and standards that set the tone for their futures. For example, if a student is late to practice, he is given a verbal warning and then written up if the behavior escalates. Consistent violations of other requirements can lead to a student being dropped from the team. “By following these rules, students are prepared for the real world,” he said. “It’s not just about basketball. It’s the game of life.”

The team initially had seven players (Junior Varsity and Varsity combined) in the fall of 2014, but ended with 22 students, who affectionately dub Dublin “Coach Laf.” But with a growing team, Dublin faced a new challenge.

DSC_6426In Maryland, Dublin coached student athletes who had access to a wealth of resources. But in neighborhoods like Ward 8, home to many of the players, the cost to maintain extra-curricular activities can be a financial strain on some families. In order to meet those family’s needs, Dublin, who played college basketball at Towson University, leveraged relationships with former teammates and respectfully “asked that they give back to the kids.” After just one phone call to his contact at Under Armour, the team was gifted with back-packs, practice uniforms, sneakers, t-shirts, and other sporting gear throughout the season.

“You never know where helping a kid from TMA will lead you. This school has a 100% college acceptance rate,” said Dublin, acknowledging that a higher education pays off. According to Dublin, Under Armour’s gesture to give back to TMA’s youth is a big investment in students’ quality of life. “For every kid you help play a sport, you are also helping a kid learn values, discipline, and accountability.”


Dublin (standing far right) beems with pride when Malik McMillian (center) signs to play basketball at Barton College on a full athletic scholarship.

Dublin is committed to the team’s success, and he acknowledges players who have achieved many goals in just one year. Former player Malik McMillian (TMA ‘15) made history as TMA’s first graduate to earn a full athletic scholarship. Initially ineligible to play on the team due to his grades, McMillian went on to increase his GPA and maintained a B-average for the entire season. Another player on the team received the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) scholarship for distinguished academic, leadership, and sportsmanship achievements. “This is why I coach. These kids are willing to put in hard work to win on and off the court,” he ends.

Last season, the team had a 20-8 record, including the big playoff victory. The 2015-16 basketball season starts November 2nd.


Law At Thurgood Marshall Academy

In 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy was founded on legal principles that serve as teaching tools that educate and empower students. Now, fifteen years later, Thurgood Marshall Academy is recognized as Washington, DC’s only law-themed high school, a recognition that sets our curriculum apart. Consciously interweaving the elements of law and democracy into students’ academics exposes them to effective ways that they can advocate for change, make a difference in society, and stand up for their rights and the rights of their peers—much like the school’s namesake, Thurgood Marshall, who led the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed the policy of “separate but equal” and ensures that all students receive an excellent, quality education.

Fifteen years ago, law students and attorneys at Georgetown University were enrolled in a “Street Law” course that inspired them to establish Thurgood Marshall Academy. During the course, they completed a project that gave them a rare opportunity to teach local high school students about the law and their rights. Assigned to a neighborhood high school in Ward 8—now home of Thurgood Marshall Academy—the Street Law students became aware that there was a lack of opportunities that provided academic and emotional support to students.

The school’s founder Josh Kern, who was enrolled in the course at the time, grew committed to put the “Street Law” program into practice and provide equal education resources for students east of the river. But when he pursued the idea to bring legal principles to high school students with the goal of setting students on a path to college, doubt from professionals in the field soon followed. Those skeptical of the initiative thought “opening a high school to any student and have them prepared to be successful in college wasn’t something we could do,” Kern recently told Politico magazine.

Considering that students in Wards 7 and 8, DC’s most underserved communities, were not getting the academic and educational resources that their more privileged counterparts received, Kern was motivated by the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. His commitment to provide all students with equal opportunity no matter their race, background, or their family’s financial aptitude was the driving force that sparked Thurgood Marshall Academy’s creation in 2001.

The need for a school dedicated to student success was just as relevant when TMA was founded as it is now. Richard Pohlman, the school’s new interim Executive Director acknowledged the concerning issue saying “in reflecting on the start of school I was drawn to our community namesake. Mr. Thurgood Marshall was a tenacious individual and tireless advocate; his name is nearly synonymous with the desegregation of schools.  Yet today, the educational injustices Mr. Marshall fought against persist for our students.”

It is increasingly important that TMA practices a law-themed curriculum and discovers new ways to incorporate ideals of advocacy, democracy, and equality into students’ course work. We envision that this prepares our students to be leaders who are compelled to actively engage in our democratic society. Like Justice Thurgood Marshall, they too can make a difference and can reinvent history.

Thurgood Marshall Acadmey


To keep our law-themed curriculum fresh and relevant, Thurgood Marshall Academy relies upon the expertise of attorneys to heighten its law-themed curriculum, which continues to:

  • Encourage students to engage in our democratic society.
  • Implement legal skills—Research, Argumentation, Critical Thinking, Advocacy, and Negotiation—into every area of study including mathematics and science.
  • Teach students the skills that lawyers have—the ability to solve complex problems, think critically, and advocate persuasively for themselves and their communities.
  • Provide opportunities for students to engage with seasoned lawyers through an array of enrichment activities including mandatory law-firm tutoring, Law Days, and participation in Georgetown University’s Street Law program.
  • Explore the roles of politicians and other pertinent government leaders during high-profile school visits and guided tours.
  • Bring the relevance of the US Supreme Court and other justice-related institutions to life during class field trips.
  • Prepare students to succeed in local and national debate tournaments, oratory competitions, and mock trials.


TMA’s Executive Director Pens Open Letter to Supporters


Interim Executive Director Richard Pohlman

Dear Friends,

Welcome to school year 2015-2016!  I am Richard Pohlman, the new Interim Executive Director for Thurgood Marshall Academy.  I am excited to join this wonderful community of families, educators and partners.  I hope to have the opportunity to meet each and every one of you this year to share my goals for the school and hear what makes this school special to each of you.

This year, we celebrate our 15th year of helping our students meet their goals for college and beyond. Since opening, TMA has become one of the city’s top performing high schools and boasts some of the highest growth rates in the city. This success is due, in no small part, to our dedicated teachers and staff who work tirelessly for that all important “Aha!” moment.

However, our success would not be possible without your support as well. When I talk to students, they routinely tell me how much visiting law firms, working with mentors, interning at companies, and meeting professional adults mean to their education. Faculty also share stories of recent graduates like Sydni, who interned at the physics lab at the University of Maryland during her tenth grade year. That Job Shadow Day experience inspired her to pursue a career in astrophysics, and she is currently attending the University of Pittsburgh. You make a direct and meaningful impact on our students through these experiences – thank you.

While we have many things to celebrate, we also have room to grow.  We must continue to commit to education equity for all our students in the District of Columbia.  To better serve our community, I have three goals for the year: transition the school to independently serving our special needs students; work with city administration and community members to replicate the school in the near future to increase our impact; and address questions about student attrition, specifically the number of students leaving in the ninth and tenth grades.

In addition, I want to re-engage partners who have helped TMA over the first 15 years so that we can increase our reach and impact through the city.  You can do this in many different ways – direct financial support, tutoring, supporting our alumni, or just sending a note of encouragement to a teacher or student. I look forward to learning more from you about ways you are interested in investing in the lives of our students and their families.

Finally, I invite you to visit TMA and see our work in action – tour the school, visit classrooms, and hear directly from me and other leaders about our work this year.

Again, thanks for your support, and I look forward to meeting you.


Richard Pohlman
Interim Executive Director


My First ‘Official’ Day as a Student: Malia’s Story

Malia McMillian is settling into her new role as a freshman but her journey at TMA started more than a decade ago. Two of her older brothers attended Thurgood Marshall Academy. Her mother, Zabrina Ames, has been on staff at TMA for 11 years, serving as Project Associate for Student Support Services. To TMA faculty and staff, McMillian is simply Ms. Ames’ daughter.

“I was basically raised at this school,” said McMillian. “All the teachers are family. That’s why TMA is the school for me,” she says.

P1020635Today, McMillian is an official TMA Warrior. Over the summer, she joined more than 100 of her peers for Summer Prep, a six-week program that prepares incoming students for the TMA culture, both academically and socially. Students are brought up to speed in math and reading and delve into TMA’s law-themed curriculum during law day at Wiley Rein LLP, TMA’s summer law firm partner.

“The best part about Summer Prep was the field trips and enrichment activities,” she said. “They prepared me for the regular school year,” said McMillian, who is looking forward to Clubs Day—the day of the year when students can sign up for extra-curricular activities. “I’m excited about playing volleyball and joining the new dance team,” she says. “I plan on participating in the Debate Club because I’m a very argumentative person.”

McMillian is no stranger to the work ethic required to balance school work, sports, and other fun hobbies. She learned from her brother, Malik (TMA ‘15), who made school history last year as the first TMA student to be accepted into college on a full athletics scholarship. Malik’s accomplishment taught her that she “has to keep her head in the books.” So while McMillian plans to explore a number of enrichment activities that TMA has to offer, her main goal, she says, is “to not allow anything to take my focus off of my school work.” McMillian, whose favorite subject is History, hopes to earn a B or higher in all of her classes.

Thurgood Marshall Academy not only provides students with a college preparatory curriculum, but the school is unique in its mission to prepare students to actively engage in our democratic society. McMillian’s recent encounter with Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced her to the school’s law-themed approach that teaches students to advocate for themselves and others. McMillian was proud to help Mayor Bowser launch the DC Kids Ride Free program, an expanded initiative that allows students to ride the Metrorail to and from school for free.

“The Kids Ride Free program benefits me and my peers because now kids no longer have to worry about the financial struggle of having to pay to get to school,” she said. “Now they can save money for important needs like school supplies and college,” she ends.



Upcoming School Year Embraces New Leadership, Classes, and Clubs

Thurgood Marshall Academy photographs by Stephen Voss.Now that summer vacation has come to an end, Thurgood Marshall Academy is looking forward to an exciting school year, an energetic freshmen class and revitalized upperclassmen, and a unique law-themed curriculum that is coupled with college preparatory course work. It’s August 24th, and hallways are flooded with nearly 400 students and more than 30 teachers.

During these recent hot summer months, though, the leadership team didn’t cool off. Instead, Thurgood Marshall Academy faculty and staff forged ahead to ensure that the upcoming school year would be nothing short of successful.

Faculty and staff, including all grade-level Deans and Thurgood Marshall Academy’s new interim Executive Director, Richard Pohlman, welcomed students upon entry. After receiving their name badges, students journeyed off to their homeroom class, where they compared their class schedules with each other.Thurgood Marshall Academy photographs by Stephen Voss.

This school year, faculty will continue to have the support of former Instructional Coach, Kena Allison, who was promoted to interim Head of School. In this expanded role, she will work closely with new and seasoned teachers to provide academic leadership and support in a myriad of ways that ensure they grow as dynamic educators. Ms. Allison will work alongside Thurgood Marshall Academy’s new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Bridget Abbas. Ms. Abbas has already provided a wealth of knowledge during Thurgood Marshall Academy’s intense Teacher Academy, where she led a number of workshops that explored learning approaches that better support students.

“I think that new leadership is a great thing,” said Ms. Allison. “It will bring new answers and ideas for those ongoing questions and struggles our students face.”

While a vast percentage of teachers are returning to Thurgood Marshall Academy, the school went on to invite new talent to its campus to teach courses just added to the curriculum. This year, juniors and seniors will have a rare opportunity to enroll in AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, and Global Studies.

To reinforce what students learn in the classroom, Thurgood Marshall Academy offers enrichment programs and extra-curricular activities that students can partake in after-school. Brandelyn Anderson, who was promoted to Director of Programs, is slated to host the upcoming Clubs Day, which gives students an opportunity to sign up for such programs. Most popular and recurring clubs include Green Club, Happy Black Girls (HBG), Debate Team, and more. But this year, Ms. Anderson is looking forward to introducing new clubs.

Over the summer, incoming freshmen and sophomores participated in Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Summer Prep, a 6-week program designed to get new students acclimated to the school’s culture. Rising juniors and seniors “went global” and explored famous attractions while abroad in Costa Rica, Morocco, Spain, and Tanzania. Other students dedicated the vacation to making up course work during Summer School, while others enjoyed internships and summer youth employment. Most students, though, enjoyed a slow-paced vacation in anticipation for back to school.


When a Student Becomes a Teacher: Alicia’s Story


Alicia on graduation day from University of Texas at Austin

Faculty and staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy continue to rave about Alicia Hargrove (TMA ‘10) and her many accomplishments. She graduated from the University of Texas, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in History. But it was a teaching position in Mexico that prepared her for a role at TMA. Now that the tables have turned—and Hargrove is the teacher and not the student—she embraces the ability to impact young people’s lives. In fact, she’s been on staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy since 2014, serving as a long-term substitute teacher and Programs Associate.


Teachers & Students Benefit from Professional Development Opportunities


In 2013, Kena Allison was awarded $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation for her stellar performance as an educator.

At Thurgood Marshall Academy, the beginning of each school year starts with Teacher Academy, an intensive, two-week training that provides time for all teachers to collaborate among departments and grade levels for curriculum design and implementation. The Academy is in full swing, and new and seasoned teachers alike work together in professional learning circles that improve their work in the classroom.

In this Q&A, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Head of School, Kena Allison, shares how Teacher Academy is a resource that helps teachers develop and prepare for the upcoming school year. She goes a step further, though, to shed light on how the program and other professional development opportunities for educators are influential tools in the success of our students.

  1. One may automatically assume that Teacher Academy is a resource that only teachers and faculty can benefit from. But please share how Teacher Academy ensures that our students succeed.

During Teacher Academy, teachers are given opportunities to learn new instructional strategies and revise curriculum materials. The only reason we do this is to better educate students. The underlying goal is to ensure that when students return to Thurgood Marshall Academy they will have a refreshed curriculum and learning plan to look forward to. It keeps their learning and classroom experience invigorating and challenging. Teacher Academy tasks educators to present refreshing ideas, share teacher peer-to-peer feedback, and create new concepts that are sure to keep our students on the course to academic success.

  1. What are some initiatives built into this year’s Teacher Academy that were developed to help teachers perform better in the classroom?

Bridget Abbas, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, is leading a session on “close reading,” which will equip teachers with strategies that help students navigate difficult text. This training will directly translate into a classroom lesson that each teacher will develop and introduce to students within the first few weeks of school. Last year, approximately 75% of new students performed on a 7th grade academic level. Therefore, Thurgood Marshall Academy is compelled to design strategies that improve student performance and reading skills. The specific session on “close reading” gives teachers in all departments, not just English, the opportunity to learn the procedure and plan a lesson that reinforces what they learned.

  1. What can other schools learn from TMA’s Teacher Academy model?

TMA’s Teacher Academy model is a lot more complex than a simple, two-week training for every teacher in the building. Instead, the Academy, and the time that goes into it, is critical for sharing updates and changes, and providing adequate prep time before students arrive. More importantly, it gives us time for team-building and a platform to identify our strengths and areas in need of growth. Essentially, Teacher Academy is a reflection of the focus and value that TMA puts on planning, collaborating, and professional development.

  1. Tell us more about Professional Development opportunities and how they empower teachers throughout the year.

I’ve learned that teachers work with students because we want to be lifelong learners. It’s important to remember that different generations of students learn differently, become interested in new and trending topics, and are eager to explore learning in reformed and modern ways. Even the most effective lesson becomes tedious after five years. Therefore, educators, whether seasoned or new to the classroom, must be willing to learn and adapt their teaching styles to better engage students. As such, teachers who partake in professional development opportunities are only embracing their desire for personal growth. Professional development affords educators the space to think outside of the box and integrate new strategies, better understand new standards, or experiment with new technology. The learning process through professional development is igniting for educators and empowers them to return that energy to students.

  1. As the former Instructional Coach and now Head of School, what have you seen first-hand that inspires teachers to go beyond the call of duty?

Institutional support and collaboration among leadership and colleagues inspire teachers to go beyond the call of duty.  All teachers work for students. But when the school does not support genuine efforts that teachers put forth for students, it’s possible for teacher passion and motivation to dwindle. Strong educators value frequent observations and feedback. They want the students to achieve and those around them to be on the same page to make that achievement a reality. TMA works to maintain that balance.

  1. How does TMA challenge teachers?

We are constantly asking, “how do we make that better?” and “why are students not improving with…?” Likewise, we are always conversing about what works and what doesn’t. Finally, the students and community challenge us. TMA is the go-to college school, but many students entering TMA are not on grade level—academically or socio-emotionally—when they arrive. As such, teachers face the challenge to close those gaps.

  1. What is your advice to new and returning teachers?

Remember that students are human beings who want relationships and are eager to learn from teachers who set high expectations. Don’t give up on them. Instead, make it your priority to support them when they struggle and want to give up.

  1. Now celebrating 15 years, tell us how this year at TMA may be different for teachers.

There is a lot of new leadership in the building—a new Executive Director, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and I’ve recently taken on the role as Head of School. Like all things new, change is good and I think that new leadership is a great thing. It will bring new answers and ideas for those ongoing questions and struggles our students face. Logistically, teachers will work with a new lesson plan template and may see minor changes in the evaluation system; however, the change that I think will be most valued from the new members of the TMA community is a new energy and the same steadfast commitment to our mission.


Thurgood Marshall Academy names Richard Pohlman Interim Executive Director

WASHINGTON — Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Board of Trustees announced that Richard Pohlman has been named as the school’s Interim Executive Director.

Mr. Pohlman is an experienced leader with more than a decade of experience in the Washington, D.C., education, legal, and policy sectors. He is currently serving as the Chief of Operations and Policy at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, overseeing the daily operations and budgets across three schools, and served as its Acting Head of School with the departure of founder Jennie Niles. He previously worked at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education as a legal advisor. Prior to his work there, he was a Presidential Fellow at the United States Department of Education. He also has classroom experience working with upper elementary and middle school students.

Mr. Pohlman will be the school’s third Executive Director since its founding in 2001, succeeding Alexandra Pardo, who worked at the school for nine years and served as its Executive Director since 2011. Since its founding in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy has become one of the highest-performing high schools in the District. The school boasts a 100% college acceptance rate, and its alumni graduation rates exceed the national average.

“We are thrilled that Rich has agreed to join TMA.  With his extensive experience and dedication to public education, Rich will ensure the school continues to fulfill its mission,” said Kannon Shanmugam, Chair of the Board.  “I am grateful to the staff and leadership of the school for their participation in the search process and for their help in bringing that process to such a successful conclusion. On behalf of the Board and staff, I also want to thank Alexandra for her service as Executive Director.”

Ms. Pardo will continue in her current role through August 14.  Mr. Pohlman will start at TMA in his new role on August 17.


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.

A Journey from Average to Great: Aris’ Story


Aris Morrison, Class of 2010

Thurgood Marshall Academy is proud of its 100% college acceptance rate among graduating seniors. To carry on this 11-year tradition, the College Counseling office works strategically with students to guide them along the application process. The efforts ensure that seniors apply for schools in three specific buckets: reach, target, and safety. Aris Morrison (TMA ‘10) remembers being introduced to this idea in Senior Seminar, a required course for 12th graders. He learned that reach schools were more competitive to gain acceptance into and target schools are often a student’s top choice because they meet the standards in most, if not all, of the required areas. However, the class lesson became a life-lesson when Morrison realized he identified with students more likely to be accepted into safety schools, colleges or universities for students who have not performed well academically.