College Preparatory Curriculum
At Thurgood Marshall Academy, we prepare our students for college and career by providing a challenging academic curriculum infused with the themes of law and justice. We know that not all of our students strive to enter the legal field, but we do believe that five essential legal skills—advocacy, argumentation, critical thinking, negotiation, and research—will prepare students for success in any career.
Above and beyond the traditional high school curriculum, Thurgood Marshall Academy students have the opportunity to take honors classes, courses in law, and a variety of electives. We offer Advanced Placement classes, honors English and math courses, and as well as honors science, social studies, and Spanish classes.
To augment their core courses, students choose from a range of electives including Introduction to Law, African-American studies, and Introduction to Business. We have established partnerships with local universities so our students can take college courses for both high school and college credit during their junior and senior years.
We believe that every student can go to college; in pursuit of that goal, we offer a specialized program, at every grade level:
- 9th and incoming 10th grade students enroll in our Summer Prep program to facilitate the transition from other schools to the rigorous academic environment at TMA.
- 9th and 10th grade students enroll in “double-block” English and math classes, taking twice as much classroom instruction as their peers in traditional high school programs.
- Juniors enroll in a semester-long SAT preparation class to ensure that they master the skills required by the important college admissions test and have practiced test-taking.
- Seniors participate in Senior Seminar, a year-long class taught by our college counseling staff. They receive intensive coaching on the college application process, with an emphasis on completing college applications, drafting personal statements, applying for scholarships, and preparing for the transition to college life.
Our five legal skills are at the core of the development of the curriculum for all classes. Students complete a law-related project in each social studies class, recognizing the opportunities and challenges presented by the legal system throughout history. Students are first introduced to the practice of law in 9th grade through Law Days, a six-session half-day legal workshop taught by volunteer attorneys. Juniors are mentored and tutored once a week by attorneys and legal staff at partner law firms through our Law Firm Tutoring program.
Once interest in the legal field is piqued, upperclassmen can enroll in Introduction to Law, taught by an attorney on staff. Each school year ends with students reflecting upon the infusion of the five legal skills in their course work and curricular activities as part of law integration during the Portfolio process each spring.
Our unique portfolio assessment process requires students to examine their academic achievements and struggles and present their reflections and plans for the future before a panel of teachers, staff members, volunteers and parents each year. This presentation also includes students’ discussion of their behavior and overall contribution to the school. This process helps students to better understand their own abilities and potential and also strengthens their public speaking and presentation skills.
Our students learn in and out of the classroom, from teachers, mentors, advisors, attorneys, and peers. We have established partnerships with more than 30 organizations throughout D.C. to help make it possible for students to pursue a wide range of interests and dreams. Students can:
- Volunteer in their communities and across the city—100 hours of service are required to graduate.
- Compete on athletic teams in the charter school league.
- Improve the earth through the school’s Green Club, which maintains one of the largest school gardens in the District.