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!”