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Comic Book Day at TMA

Today’s release of the Black Panther movie was a perfect backdrop to TMA’s Comic Book Day. Ms. Barker, the school’s librarian, said, “I wanted to create an event that focused on some of our more reluctant readers, to get them interested in reading. I also wanted a space for students who love to “geek out” and share their love of comics in a judgement-free zone.”

Last school year, Ms. Barker reached out to the local store of Third Eye Comics, the largest comic book store in the U.S. and they agreed to partner on an event at the school. This is the second year of Comic Book Day, and teachers from TMA’s English Department suggested students who would benefit from the event.

Held in the school library, students received free comics and enjoyed pizza, while engaging in conversations with each other as well as with Third Eye staff member Rachel Tilley. They were animated as they discussed topics ranging from why Black Panther is so popular, to which comic book character is the most powerful superhero.

“I’m glad that we were able to excite the students who have said that they don’t like reading,” Barker said. Hopefully seeing examples of a different writing style, with graphics and images of heroes, will spark their curiosity.”

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.

Sincerely,
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Richard Pohlman

Spirit Week and Homecoming Recap

This week was full of activities for TMA students, faculty and staff, as we celebrated Spirit Week and Homecoming to show unity and our Warrior pride.

From Pajama Day to Black Out Day, students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to showcase their creative, fun and athletic sides.

Staff get into the Spirit on Pajama Day

Students dressed in 70s fashion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year during Spirit Week we host a Faculty vs. Students Basketball game. Wednesday featured the annual basketball game, with faculty continuing their winning streak for a third. This year faculty defeated students 26 to 14.

Students wore their class colors and cheered on their classmates during a pep rally on Thursday, as each grade competed in basketball, tug of war, and other games.

Following our pep rally, our Spirit Week ended with our Homecoming Basketball game against Dunbar High School, and the Homecoming Dance.

TMA students apply for college early: High SAT Scores and College Application Boot Camp

More students are applying to colleges earlier in their senior year – even before the end of their first semester. This trend is known nationwide as “Early Action”, and November 1st is the Early Action deadline for many colleges and universities. We are proud that our Class of 2018 have been actively preparing for this moment, with 60% of our seniors submitting early action applications.

One of the most important factors in college admissions is a high SAT score. TMA invested in additional resources to offer SAT prep classes to seniors. As a result, 97% of our students scored above an 800, and 50% of students earned a “super score” above 1000.

“It’s important for our students to score as high as possible and apply, as early as possible, to remain competitive,” said Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming. “The earlier our students apply for college, the more time they have to focus on earning scholarships.”

In addition to SAT courses, seniors prepared for Early Action by attending a college application “boot camp” in the school’s library, working until 6pm on their applications with help from faculty, staff and volunteers.

They also had several opportunities during the school day to write their personal statement, a compelling reason why they should be admitted into the college of their choice. College essays were the focus during Senior Seminar, and volunteers from TMA’s staff and the local legal community helped with final edits.

Our students are on their way to being admitted into the colleges of their choice, giving them enough time to focus on the next critical piece: paying for college.

Thurgood Marshall Academy named Tier 1 School Each Year Since 2012

Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) has been named a Tier 1 school by the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), the organization that authorizes and ranks public charter schools in Washington, DC. Thurgood Marshall Academy is among a handful of public charter high schools to earn the distinction in 2017; the school has achieved Tier 1 status each year since the introduction of the rating system.

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

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

Thurgood Marshall Academy demonstrates that academic achievement and college access are possible for all students, regardless of their family income status, race or community. Like the PMF, the school does not measure its success through a single statistic. Its leadership looks at an abundance of data to see how programs support student growth and college and career readiness across all grade levels.

Thurgood Marshall Academy students, 100% of whom are minority and qualify for federal free and reduced price meals, defy the odds for youth from Ward 8 – home to the majority of students. Most of the school’s ninth-graders arrive two to five years behind grade level in math and reading. In April 2017, TMA’s tenth-graders took the PARCC exam and outperformed their peers across all subgroups; most notably, twice as many students designated as At-Risk earned a 4+.

To see the full PMF ratings and quality schools report, please visit the DC Public Charter Board site: https://goo.gl/HRJE74

Why Teacher Academy Matters

The start of the school year begins with Teacher Academy, an intensive two-week professional development training for new and returning faculty and staff. The Academy allows new staff to get acquainted with Thurgood Marshall Academy’s (TMA) culture and provides a framework of collaboration, inspiration and drive for the year.

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, teachers participated in a series of facilitated sessions reflecting on areas of strength and growth as a school. Together, staff chose focus areas that would most powerfully impact instructional culture and student achievement. The Academic Leadership Team spent the summer crafting a Teacher Academy schedule that provided uninterrupted time to continue and expand on academics and culture.

Alexa Stevens, 9th grade Spanish teacher, was grateful to start the school year with Teacher Academy. “I am in year two of my teaching career, so the Academy centered me from my summer vacation and brought my full attention back to my role.” Teaching Spanish was not what Stevens planned when she joined TMA in 2015 as an academic volunteer on the College Counseling team. As her volunteer year was coming to an end, Stevens was asked to teach Spanish during summer school. During those five weeks, she realized how much she enjoyed being in front of students and quickly expressed an interest in applying for the open Spanish teacher position in 2016.

Fast forward two years, Stevens has many benefits to add to the list. “This time is needed to make sure my team and I are prepared for success. I spent last year finding my teacher voice and building my tool kit. Teacher Academy gave me time to reflect on what worked, unpack tricky scenarios with my academic team, provide input on school and academic culture, and most importantly, spend time getting to know my 9th grade team.”

The work completed by TMA faculty and staff during the Academy will continue throughout the year. Melanie Sala, Head of School says, “It is important we continue to collaborate as a school on the goals set during those two weeks. I am looking forward to an engaging and rigorous year!”

Alumni Blogpost: My Experience Interning for the DC City Council

By Tavian Southall – (TMA ’17 & Goucher College ’21)

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work for the DC District Council as an intern! The wonderful staff at Mikva Challenge DC made it their mission to place high school students and recent high school graduates in District Government agencies as interns. The purpose of the internship was to ensure that District youth are seen as valuable resources to DC officials and community leaders, and to help DC youth learn about local government. I was placed in my Ward 5 Council Member Kenyan McDuffie’s Office.

Everyone in the office was extremely friendly when I arrived for my first day. My supervisor for the summer, Chief of Staff Ronan Gulstone, gave me a tour of the Councilmember’s committee and council offices, and even took me out to lunch. I was excited to learn I would work out of Councilmember McDuffie’s committee office, where I would have my own desk space, computer and Council email account.

During my time as an intern, I was not expecting to work on as many projects as I did. I wrote memorandums for public records and the Councilmember, attended Legislative meetings, and created a plan to increase opportunities for youth engagement in the District. I believe youth are the future and should be offered as many experiences to become as successful as possible. For my plan, I drafted a document that explained the issues, solutions and possible legislation. Luckily, through a little research, I was able to find written legislation that was intended to create a Youth Council at the District Council. Unfortunately, a week later, I was informed that this Youth Council had not been initiated. And so, I made it my mission to create a similar group that would work under the District Council, but work independently, similar to the District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

I am so humbled to have been offered this internship. I was able to experience what it is like working for a Councilmember, made lifelong connections with people in the office, and am even more motivated towards my future goals – graduating from college and starting my own nonprofit that focuses on youth engagement and education in DC.

Why TMA’s Summer Prep Program Matters

While many kids in the District started their summer vacations in July, roughly one hundred came to Thurgood Marshall Academy for Summer Prep, the annual five-week program that introduces incoming ninth and tenth graders to the academic and social life of our school. Starting at 8am, students arrived for breakfast and began classes at 8:30. They studied English, Math, and Keyboarding, and took a Freshman Seminar to help prepare them for succeeding their first year at TMA, including the school’s No Brainers – nine rules of conduct. While they don’t wear the traditional year-round uniform, a modified ensemble was required — a grey t-shirt with the Summer Prep logo; khaki knee-length shorts, skirts, or pants; a plain black belt; and all-black closed-toe shoes or sneakers. Mondays through Thursdays, students spent the day on academic skills that will form the foundation of their ninth grade year. They learned how to write longer essays, how to use a computer for research, and basic mathematical equations. “I’m learning how to write better,” said Trikivis Hunter, who will be starting this Fall as a ninth grader. “I wanted to come here because academic-wise it will get me into a good college later on.” “The enrichment program not only introduces students to our school, it also serves as a benchmark for teachers, so they know the academic level of each student,” said Byron Johnson, Dean of Summer Prep and year-round Dean for tenth and 11th grade students. On Fridays, students took field trips. They visited three local college campuses, and a downtown law firm for a unique experience known as Law Day, one of TMA’s signature legal programs. Wiley Rein LLP has hosted students for the Summer Law Day for more than seven years. The firm’s attorneys led a workshop on the basics of contracts, practiced negotiation skills with students, and the day concluded with a mock trial. “I enjoyed Summer Prep – it gave me a feel of what the school year is going to be like, and I am also getting to know my classmates,” said incoming 9th grader Kourtney Taylor. The Summer Prep Program is not mandatory in order to attend TMA, but it is strongly encouraged. More than half of the students in Summer Prep attend TMA year-round; data shows that these students go on to excel academically and behaviorally during the academic year.

Student Spotlight: Christina Price Reflects on her Internship at The Motley Fool

As a long-time supporter of Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA), The Motley Fool is a popular internship destination for graduating seniors.Summer internships allow Warriors to learn more about a profession they are interested in, reinforce the importance of professionalism and understand the expectations and demands of a career. After completing the application process, Christina Price (Temple University, Class of 2021) was offered the position.

From day one, Christina knew The Motley Fool was a special place and immersed herself in all aspects of the Communications Team. Christina conducted research on new influencers trending on Social Media and created an efficient and organized process for their hub – where all information for internal purposes is stored. The Motley Fool is committed to making sure all interns are able to complete a project from start to finish, have exposure and learn from other departments, and most importantly, leave The Motley Fool with real life skills that can be applied to any business.

To make sure interns have a well-rounded experience, Christina also participated in The Fool Classes – a time for interns to learn additional skills and how each team plays a vital role in The Motley Fool’s success. Classes ranged from Marketing 101, Google Analytics, Sales and Membership. As her internship came to a close, Christina was not only grateful for her time at The Motley Fool but learned “what it means to be collaborative, saw what honesty throughout the entire office looks like and how fun is instilled within its foundation.”