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TMA’s College Counseling Department in Action

Voss-TMA161The College Counseling Team works year-round to equip students and their families with the resources they need to take on a college career. Staying true to our mission to prepare students to succeed in college, TMA invests in a full-time department dedicated to college counseling and alumni relations. For the past decade, the department has achieved many goals—100% college acceptance rate for 11 years in a row and graduating over 500 students, 90% of whom enroll in college immediately after high school and graduate college at rates higher than their neighborhood peers.

Voss-TMA163Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming and Mr. Winder, Associate College Counselor, are committed to seeing students succeed in college. They lead students on this new and, in some cases, challenging journey every step of the way. From college tours and help with college and scholarship applications to financial planning workshops for families, students have a go-to-source to seek answers to the lingering question that all high school seniors ask—“what’s next?”

Most recently, our senior class worked with 40 volunteers from Accenture, Howard University School of Law, and the local community on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the national of day of service. Students teamed up with volunteers to review more than 50 college scholarships and complete applications. The day-long event also included an impactful workshop that introduced juniors to a variety of summer leadership programs and other enrichment activities that prepare them for college.

P1040120As a way to provide additional support to seniors who need help completing their college applications, TMA hosted its annual College Application Help Night. The evening was dedicated to seniors who work one-on-one with mentors, faculty, and staff to revise their personal statements, navigate the online application process, and write appealing responses to short-answer-questions that are typically included in applications.

Students learn about the variety of scholarships and their eligibility requirements and go through the college application process in Senior Seminar, a course that introduces students to ‘all-things-college.’ But with other programs like the annual College Fair, students are exposed to a number of colleges and universities in addition to other areas of interest that may be worth pursuing after graduation.

“Along with resources that support the students who are planning to go to college and have made that commitment, the college counseling department goes a step further,” said Mr. Mitchell. “It is important to nurture a student’s strengths and listen to their interests that may not necessarily be to attend college right away. So for those students, what is a lucrative next step?” Many of these graduates go on to pursue careers in the US Navy, US Army, police or firefighters academies, and other careers that contain a significant element of community service.

What makes the College and Alumni Programs Department unique is that Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Winder maintain relationships with alumni long after they graduate. Every semester, they make surprise visits to students attending college to encourage them, check in on their progress, and gift them with care packages. Recently, the team took a road trip to upstate New York and visited eight alumni at five universities. The two-day trip started at Daeman College in Buffalo where they caught up with Carlos McKnight (TMA 15′), who is adjusting well to life-on-campus as president of the freshmen class. This semester, the College Counseling Team plans to visit TMA alumni enrolled at colleges in the Raleigh and Durham areas of North Carolina.

Richard Pohlman Named Permanent Executive Director

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Richard Pohlman, Executive Director

Dear members of the Thurgood Marshall Academy community,

On behalf of the Board of TMA, I am pleased to announce that Richard Pohlman has been appointed the permanent executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy. In August, Rich began his role as the school’s interim executive director; since that time, he has proven to be an effective and inspiring leader and a great fit for the TMA community.

As the school’s third executive director, Rich will continue to oversee all areas of school operations, lead our strategic planning initiatives, and work directly with the board, families, and staff to fulfill the school’s mission and build on TMA’s successes.

As we shared in the fall, Rich is an experienced leader with more than a decade of experience in the Washington education, legal, and policy sectors. He was most recently the Chief of Operations and Policy at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, overseeing the daily operations and budgets across three schools, and he served as its Acting Head of School with the departure of founder Jennie Niles. Rich also has classroom experience working with upper elementary and middle school students.

As we continue the school year, Rich will prioritize filling the Head of School position. He will also lead the school’s ongoing efforts to explore the possibility of replication.

Rich has my enthusiastic support and that of my colleagues on the Board. With your continued support of TMA and Rich’s immense experience and track record of proven success, we are confident that TMA will remain among the highest performing high schools in the city.

Thank you for your dedication to our students’ futures. Your support continues to have a profound impact on their lives.

With best wishes,

Kannon

Kannon Shanmugam
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Tech Gurus Inspire Students to Take on STEM Careers

P1040071Thurgood Marshall Academy celebrated Computer Science Education Week, the largest education event in history, with tech-gurus Pat Yongpradit, Chief Academic Officer of Code.org, La Tara Harris, AT&T’s Area Manager of External and Legislative Affairs, and Marty Rodgers, Managing Director of Accenture’s Washington, DC office. During a school-wide assembly earlier this week, the team of executive-level professionals encouraged students to take advantage of the many computer science resources TMA has to offer. Now, with a check of $10,000 from Code.org, TMA can continue to expand its computer science efforts and buy new computer hardware for students.

P1040054To kick off the week, TMA joined 60 million students from across the country and participated in an “Hour of Code”, an international campaign that empowers students to learn the dynamics of computer coding and programming. U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, was in attendance and wowed students when she introduced them to the number of careers that are available for students interested in STEM. STEM careers continue to be among the fastest growing fields due to the speed and depth of technology. Ms. Smith admitted that her passion for technology started in high school where she had “a lot of amazing teachers and experiences that I’m thankful for. Science lab was mandatory and math was a requirement,” she said of her high school.

P1040068Ms. Smith’s high school experiences sound a lot like those of TMA students. In fact, TMA’s longstanding efforts to provide a high-quality, college-preparatory curriculum that incorporates computer science into all grade-level course work were evident during the assembly as students participated in a coding activity that most computer science majors embark on in college. TMA students have an advantage according to Ms. Harris of AT&T who said, “you all are really blessed. You have a lot of resources here, within these walls, and teachers that love you and want to see you go far.”

P1040067Mr. Yongpradit, who presented TMA with the check, went on to give students advice on how to land a competitive tech job, many of which start off at $70,000 a year. Aside from mentioning major steps like taking a computer science course and getting an internship, Mr. Yongpradit also encouraged students to go to college—reinforcing TMA’s unique college culture.

Erica Culbreath, TMA Biology teacher who submitted the winning Code.org application, noted that TMA’s college culture offers a wealth of options to help students prepare for a number of ventures after TMA. In an interview with EdScoop, she said “even though we’re a law-themed school, we don’t turn out a bunch of lawyers. It’s all about exposing students to different career paths.”

Story of an Ivy Leaguer Inspires Students to Pursue College

P1020799Early last week, TMA 11th and 12th graders spent the morning engaging with award-winning author Jeff Hobbs as he shared excerpts and passages from his New York Times bestseller “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League.” The story documents the 30-year-life of his college roommate, Robert Peace, who was brutally murdered—a violent killing that Hobbs says was “pointless.” During an emotional question-and-answer segment with students, Hobbs, who calls Peace his “best friend,” recounted the testimonies of Peace’s loved ones whose reflections gave the book a raw truth that nurtured Peace’s love for learning and genuine nature.

As the question-and-answer segment progressed, TMA students discovered many common factors that they shared with Peace, a Black student who grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood outside of Newark, New Jersey. The area that Peace called ‘home’ was a city where college graduation rates are among the lowest in the country, much like the District’s Wards 7 and 8, where more than 85% of Thurgood Marshall Academy students reside. In spite of his zip code, however, Peace defied the odds, graduated high school, and attended Yale University. Since 2005, Thurgood Marshall Academy has graduated more than 500 alumni, all of whom were accepted to college, and in 2014, one student made history as Thurgood Marshall Academy’s first senior to be accepted into an Ivy League institution—Yale University, Peace’s alma mater.P1020802

Peace graduated after four years at Yale, where he double-majored in biochemistry and biophysics. “Aside from being Black, he was a typical Yale student. Rob [Peace] was smart. At Yale, not everyone will like a Black male who will debate you and win. He’d usually win,” said Hobbs. As Hobbs delved deeper into Peace’s story, students were surprised to learn that Yale University was, in fact, Peace’s ‘safety school.’ His first choice was Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

P1020795 “On behalf of myself and the student body, I want to thank you for sharing this inspiring read with the world,” said one student to Hobbs, who read the 400-page novel in three days. “It has taught us that in spite of someone’s background and situations that they can still aim for and go to college.” Each student received a copy of the book, which Hobbs later signed during a meet-and-greet with each student.

“I hope that all of you [students] will go home and read this book,” said Richard Pohlman, Executive Director of Thurgood Marshall Academy. After he thanked Hobbs for leading the dynamic discussion and visiting the school, he told students that “when you read someone’s story, you, somehow, feel connected to and can relate to a character. And that inspires a change in you.”

In addition to documenting Peace’s life, the story outlines common college experiences. This month, TMA seniors, most of whom are first generation college-goers, will begin the college application process. While the majority of students enter Thurgood Marshall Academy with reading and math skills below grade level, all graduating seniors are accepted to college and are earning degrees at higher rates than their peers nationally.

Meet Mr. Winder, TMA’s New Alumni Program and College Associate

ART_4438Torrance Winder, TMA’s new Alumni Program and College Associate, opens up about how the work TMA does to ensure our students have a college career is invaluable. He recently set a new school record by overseeing the College Success Foundation DC Achievers application process in which 88% of the junior class completed scholarship applications for up to $63,000.

In Part 1 of this Q&A Series, Mr. Winder acknowledges TMA’s mission to prepare students to succeed in college. He, along with the College Counseling Department, cultivates lasting relationships with alumni to support their journeys through college, graduate school, and full-time employment.

TMA: Tell us more about the importance of incorporating a college counseling and alumni programs option into a college preparatory school.

A: The support that our department gives to our students and alumni is a reflection of TMA’s knowledge of how important these resources are to our students and their future as college-goers. Throughout the year, we help seniors find and apply for scholarships, complete FASFA applications, enroll in college, and we chaperone all-expense-paid college tours. For juniors, we ensure that they’re all taking SAT prep courses, learning about the intense college application process, and attending college fairs. For every grade level, we provide resources that get the students not just thinking about college, but putting forth the effort that ensures they get into one. Because TMA understands that resources aren’t always readily available, our goal is to support students at school. Rather than having a need to go elsewhere to get support, at TMA, students figure out their next steps after graduation. Once they’re alumni, the department is just as invested in making sure that our students have a definite resource no matter what school, job, or program they join after high school.

TMA: What is the most popular trend that you see among students with regard to the college application process? How do you adjust to those trends and provide students with educated advice?

A: For juniors in particular, I’ve noticed a trend that I call an “instant-gratification-mindset.” While most of them realize that college is a lot closer than it was in the 9th grade year, some of them see the feat as a 2-year plan that’s further away. Therefore, they think they have more time than they actually do to get their grades up or to start college planning. But that’s where the College Counseling Department comes in at and that’s why college planning is actually part of the curriculum here at TMA. A lot of efforts that are voluntary at most schools are required at TMA. Juniors go to mandatory Law Firm Tutoring where they have a set amount of time to complete Homework assignments and other projects that are mandatory for the college planning process. We also host a mandatory Junior College Night, in which 11th graders and a parent, guardian or loved one, are introduced to the college application process. Just a few weeks ago, we coordinated a Case Studies Program activity that all juniors were required to participate in. Students acted as admissions counselors and accepted and denied applicants based on cognitive and non-cognitive factors that gave them a real-life look inside what it takes to get accepted to a college.

TMA: What are some of the challenges that you have with families and what techniques do you use to get them more involved in their student’s college journey?

A: Typically, challenges include a lack of parents’ inclusion within their child’s academic and collegiate search process. It is our responsibility as a department to introduce the college experience not only to students, but to their parents as well. College decisions are contingent on both the students’ and parents’ wisdom so both parties need to be informed about financing college, academic programs and majors, school culture, location, and ultimately if it’s a good fit. Many of our students are first-generation college-goers, so it’s increasingly important to introduce their families to this new journey since, whether directly or indirectly, they will all be part of it. This year, we have piloted a Family Engagement Program that works with the students’ families to give them an opportunity to become more invested and hands-on in their child’s college journey.

TMA: Being new to the TMA team, how do you plan to connect with alumni? A lot of your job involves stewarding TMA alumni and ensuring their seamless progression through college. How do you plan to show that you’re here for them?

A: The most meaningful part of my work is that the college team travels to see the students after they have made it to their college/university. While I may not have known many alumni while they were students, this element of the position gives me an extended opportunity to bond and connect with students while they’re at college. I’m a recent graduate, and because of that, I feel that I can relate with students, particularly those who are college freshmen and college seniors. Freshmen experience a lot of new changes, especially if they decide to go to school far from home. Sometimes the adjusting can be a bit overwhelming. I went to school about five hours away from home so I can understand that pressure of not being able to come home for small breaks or non-major holidays. But by visiting them, they get a piece of home right on campus. For seniors, I understand the value of internships and having an exit plan after graduation. For me, I took on a volunteer position that landed me at TMA. A year later, I was hired. Another part of my position is to share internship, job, and other opportunities with students on a regular basis. This is another touch-point that introduces me to students and helps to keep me connected. Social media is another resource that the College Counseling Department uses to stay in touch with alumni. By making myself present and visible on the TMA Alumni Facebook Page, I hope to create a comforting space for them to contact me through social media or at the school.

Next week, be sure to check out Part 2 in this Q&A Series where Mr. Winder discusses TMA’s college culture and personal accolades that make him feel well equipped to take on this new role as Alumni Program and College Associate.

Thurgood Marshall Academy Students Significantly Outperform the District on PARCC Exam

WASHINGTON – The PARCC scores released today show that Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) students continue to significantly outperform city averages and the school remains one of the best high schools in the District of Columbia.

PARCC is a Common Core aligned assessment of K-12 students in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics.  The new assessment replaced the DC CAS in reading, composition and mathematics last year. Because it is more rigorous and presents a fuller picture of student learning, it is considered to be a better indicator of college and career readiness for students. Results are scored on a level of 1 to 5; a Level 3 indicates that students are “approaching” readiness, while a Level 4 indicates “attainment.”

TMA’s tenth graders participated in the Geometry and ELA II exams. In ELA, 56.6% earned Level 4 or higher and 77.1% of students earned a Level 3 or higher, outperforming the citywide averages of 25% (at or above Level 4) and 42% (at or above Level 3). In Geometry, 13.1% earned Level 4 and 59.5% of students earned a Level 3 or higher, outperforming the citywide averages of 10% (at or above Level 4) and 34% (at or above Level 3). Additionally, more than 58% of students labeled as “economically disadvantaged” scored at or above a 4 in ELA, as compared with the city average of 16.5%.

“We are truly proud of our students, our teachers, and our staff. This is a testament to all of their hard work,” said Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Interim Executive Director. “While the test indicates that a great number of our students are on track to graduate college ready, our staff and faculty continue to focus on ensuring that all of our students have the tools necessary to succeed in college and beyond.”

When the District announced the transition to PARCC in 2011, TMA took a number of steps to prepare, including aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments with the new, more rigorous Common Core standards. “Our leadership, faculty, and staff have worked to revise our curriculum to meet the demands of the common core state standards,” said Kena Allison, the school’s Interim Head of School who has also served as a TMA science teacher and instructional coach for several years. “We continue to work diligently to make sure our students are ready for the rigors of a college education.”

PARCC 2015 Test Results

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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.

Clubs In Action: The Green Club

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Ms. Lee (center) introduces students to the Green Club during TMA’s annual Club’s Fair.

Since the beginning of the school year, the Green Club has organized three Farm Stands, a wholesale event where faculty, staff, and the community can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown at TMA’s on-site garden. The Green Club is one of the oldest clubs at TMA, established in 2007, and is advised by Ms. Lee, a Social Studies teacher with a passion for all-things-green. She works alongside the Green Club Coordinator to introduce students to the dynamics of maintaining a healthy garden.

At the heart of TMA’s Green Club, the garden serves two purposes:

  • To teach students strategies for well-being through healthy food choices, nutritional literacy, and physical education
  • To provide a location for garden-based lessons that support academic achievement

“The Green Club gives people a chance to see how eating healthy looks,” said 12th-grader George Marshall, who is a Green Club veteran. Serving on the club for the past four years, Marshall often encourages his mother to make better cooking choices. “I tell my mom to use fresh fruits and vegetables instead of factory foods. She hasn’t been able to attend a Farm Stand yet, but I always take produce home so that she will have better and healthier options to cook with,” said Marshall.

The Farm Stand is open to the public every Thursday after school.

Students plant and harvest year-round with hopes to use the garden as a longstanding resource to combat unhealthy eating choices in the Anacostia area.

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A member of the Green Club leads a Garden Tour.

The Green Club gives Marshall and the community access to fresh crops during every season. Taking a tour of the TMA garden would take a ‘tourist’ through weeds that uncover sun gold cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, bell peppers, swiss chard, kale, okra, beets, chives, thyme, sage and other herbs, string beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, carrots, sorrel, and even flowers to create bouquets.

Next month, the club and a few volunteers will work together to ‘winterize’ the garden and get it ready for the colder months so that all of the plants, fruits and veggies will be able to survive throughout the winter. Marshall is looking forward to the all-hands-on-deck process that includes planting, building hoop houses, pruning, and mulching. “The Green Club doesn’t just encourage students to eat healthier, but it’s also an opportunity for all students to pitch in and be involved in maintaining the garden, which takes a lot of work and commitment,” said Marshall.

The Green Club also leads cooking demonstrations that showcase their favorite healthy meals. Marshall and the Green Club have made a number of dishes including roasted peppers, butternut squash soup (Marshall’s all-time favorite), and fruit pies. Homemade pasta sauce is next on the menu as the students make use of the remaining roma tomatoes.

 

 

A Pathway to Success: Dominique’s Story

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Dominique Griffin (TMA ’09) is awarded with a certificate after completing a year-long program with the Peace Corps.

Dominique Griffin (TMA ’09) is the newest member of Pathways, TMA’s monthly giving program. A notable alumna who has done service work in underdeveloped countries, spent a year in the Peace Corps, and served as a mentor for TMA’s Mentorship Program, Dominique says the activities and programs at TMA gave her an open-mind that empowered her to make a difference. Now, the Pathways Monthly Giving Program is, as Dominique puts it, “a chance to give back.”

(more…)

A Voice Inspired by an Activist: Charleah’s Story

Eleventh grader, Charleah Collington, has been singing since she was three-years-old. Along with her long-term goal to be a lawyer, Charleah has a vision to, one day, sing gospel music professionally. In the meantime, she’s developing her gifted voice with a multi-talented group called FRESHH Inc., a hip-hop theater ensemble of young women, ages 13–20, who pay tribute to “warrior women.”

Recently, Charleah, who was excused from after-school for this special occasion, and the all-girls-group of eight performed for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival and honored well-known artists in a high-energy performance titled “We Speak their Names – A Tribute to Warrior Women.” During the hour-long performance at the Kennedy Center, Charleah wowed the audience with her rendition of Nina Simone’s “I’ve Put a Spell on You.” Charleah reminded us of Nina Simone’s soulful sound that changed the industry in the 1960s, a pivotal era in the Civil Rights Movement.

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Charleah Collington, 11th grader, performed at the Kennedy Center with her all-girls group FRESHH, Inc.

“I love all kinds of artists,” said Charleah. “But I’m really inspired by those who use their music to say something meaningful. It’s those artists whose lyrics will live on forever because they made a difference in the world.”

Nina Simone, whom Charleah emulated so well during her solo performance, was much more than an American singer, songwriter, pianist, or arranger. She was a Civil Rights Activist whom Charleah chose to reenact because she is a “warrior woman” whose music made a statement during this unforgettable time in history. While Charleah chose to perform Simone’s popular hit, “I’ve Put a Spell on You,” Nina Simone is also known for using her music to highlight injustice. Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” was the song where she openly addressed the racial inequality that was on the rise in the US. The number was a response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Alabama that killed four black girls.

Thurgood Marshall Academy provides students with the resources and knowledge they need to advocate for themselves and their communities. By introducing our students to pioneering revolutionaries who use their craft to stand up for equality, we give them real-life examples to follow.

See Charleah and FRESHH, Inc. in action below. Charleah’s Nina Simone rendition starts at time-stamp 31.40.

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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.

 

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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.