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Response to Recent Events

“Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice. No one benefits from racism.” *

– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, July 4, 1992

Drawing on the legacy of civil rights enshrined by our namesake and the aspirations of our founders at the Georgetown University Law Center, the “driving principles” of the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School (TMA) are diversity, community, democracy/participation, and excellence.  TMA proudly continues its mission of enriching the lives of our students, providing space for each young leader to find a foothold in our complex society, and guiding the next generation of Washingtonians to even greater successes at institutions of higher learning.

This week has heightened America’s focus on racism and economic inequality.  The impact of systemic racism has a visceral effect on the lives and futures of our students and our great nation.  Our community’s anger over live images of police brutality is exacerbated by the current pandemic in which Black residents account for 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in the District of Columbia.  Furthermore, the economic inequities still prevalent in our great City are concrete examples of the long-term, adverse impacts of disenfranchisement.

The murder of George Floyd is unconscionable and uncomfortably familiar in our United States of America, in 2020.  We have been here before and, as with other recent incidents, Mr. Floyd’s tragic death is a horrific reminder of the hundreds of years of race‑based abuses and intolerance that Justice Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders of the civil rights movement fought to overcome.  We will continue to leverage TMA’s voice towards an American democracy that embraces everyone, irrespective of who they are.

TMA’s Students, Alumni, Families, Staff, and Board extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Floyd’s family and collectively condemn all acts of racial injustice, hatred, and violence.  Our commitment is to walk with our young leaders, to remove historical barriers, and to ensure that each student is given opportunities to shine.


* Justice Marshall proffered this statement as part of a speech made a few months after the Rodney King riots in 1992.

Wilderness Club- Camping Adventures

On Saturday May 18, Twelve students from TMA’s Wilderness Club had the opportunity to go camping at Pointe Lookout State Park in Scotland, Maryland. The club has been making a similar trip for the past six years, but this was byfar the most picturesque landscape, location, and park.

The clubs purpose is to learn about the outdoors, environmental concerns and get out of the city and into nature. Students are responsible for all aspects of the trip from putting up their tents to cooking food to breaking down the campsite.

Club advisors, Ms. Culbreath and Ms. Schwarz reflect on the experience. “We are always awestruck by how savvy our students are. Their ability to work as a team while pitching tents and their delight in cheering each other on when facing a new challenges such as canoeing is wonderful to see.  Every year I leave camp a bit jealous by their campfire cooking skills… some students make pancakes better than I can at home on the stove!”

“The hiking wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I never really hiked that far before so it was a good experience” says 11th grade Meiko.

11th grader Daniel explained, “My favorite part of the camping trip was at the campsite, just chilling out and talking. I got to get to know people better than while we are at school.”

Students went canoeing, hiking, cooked over a fire, pitched tents, played games, and enjoyed a campfire.

“I enjoyed canoeing! We saw baby turtles and different types of birds when we canoed around the peninsula” exclaimed TMA Junior, Myrikal.

The Wilderness Club is one of many enrichment programs offered at Thurgood Marshall Academy. To start a club at TMA, a few students just needs to submit an idea/ passion/ hobby and find an adult advisor willing to support that activity.

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TMA Students Lead 100% Voter Registration Project

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, TMA Social Studies Teacher, Karen Lee, started the first day of her US Government class trying to answer the question: Who votes? Looking at DC and national voting data, Ms. Lee and her students discovered that the lowest DC voter turnout rates occur in wards 7 and 8. The conversation sparked students’ interest in finding out why their community had lower turnout rates. “Voting rights and voter registration has always been important to me and so every student that I have taught has had an opportunity to register to vote through my class.”, says Ms. Lee.

Later in the school year, Ms. Lee and Rebecca Donnelly, another TMA Social Studies Teacher, introduced the When We All Vote Prom Challenge to her AP Government class as an option for their senior Issues to Action Law Component Project. With many students already considering voter registration as their project, this challenge added extra motivation and a chance to win more money for prom. So, AP Government students strategized  various ways to get the school community excited about the June primary and register family members to vote. With the support of school leadership including Mr. Weeden, Mr. Zaki and Mrs. Stewart, students planned a spirit week that highlighted voting and activism and organized a party that included voter registration applications. Students also designed a shirt that represented the power of voting and created a QR code that could be used by a cell phone to connect to the DC voter registration website. In the process, students were able to participate in budget planning for prom by reviewing the current budget, and strategizing how to spend the winnings with help from their peers.

Though COVID-19 presented some challenges, their dedication to their project led to 100% voter registration from the class of 2020 and their teachers. In recognition of their hard work, TMA was 1 of 20 schools to win the When We Vote Prom Challenge. Students were able to virtually meet Michelle Obama as a surprise during the video announcement.

The momentum did not stop there, Ms. Lee was overwhelmed with excitement from students and staff on June 2nd as they participated in voting in the primary. “There is nothing more amazing and hopeful than seeing students excited about using their voices and their power in deciding who would best represent them in elected offices. It is truly taking what they learned in the classroom and putting it into action!” Ms. Lee said. 

TMA also encourages voting and voter registration through our partnership with Mikva Challenge. Throughout the school year, students had hands-on learning experiences with local and national elections. Through the Election in Action Fellowship, students participated in the Iowa caucuses and South Carolina primary events where they canvassed, phone banked, and learned about how campaign offices run. Our student led activist group, Pathways 2 Power, hosted a candidate forum for  at-large and ward 7 and 8 city council races. Ms. Lee said, “Once students get a glimpse of the ways to engage in politics, TMA Warriors always step up to lead our city forward”.

IMG_7717 AP Government created t-shirts with QR codes to help with voter registration.
7EE9A1A2-04CD-4180-9C27-9462634F9F45 Students experience political campaigning.
IMG_0663 Student led organization, Pathways 2 Power.
IMG_6320 Students having fun will encouraging people to vote.

Lady Warriors Maintain Chemistry On and Off the Court


Members of the girls basketball team, standing in a V shape with all players holding a basketball.The Lady Warriors Basketball team won their first eight games in a row this season. With an 8-2 record, 

they remain at the top of D.C.’s charter school athletic league (PCSAA). The players acknowledge they are performing at their peak this year, and credit their success to several factors.

“We have strong chemistry on and off the court,” said Co-captain Niya Stickland, senior, who has played 

on the team for four years. “Also, we added two new players with assets that’s helping our game.”

One of the newest additions is senior Sharay Bell, center. “Sharay adds to our defensive game, particularly when it comes to rebounds,” said Ms. Koonce, head coach, who has worked with the Lady Warriors for four years and noted an improved performance from the team. “They are more consistent, more focused, and they have more accountability with one another.”

Another factor to their winning streak was a strategic move with regard to the game schedule.

“We felt it was important to start the season with as many games against schools in our league as possible,” said Koonce. “This way their confidence builds, allowing them to form a more authentic look within the league.”

Co-captain Janya Tuckson, a junior, says the close friendship and camaraderie impacted their successful 

run this year. “We have fun both on and off the court…we have a real bond.”

She added that playing basketball taught her to have better control over her emotions. “It’s giving me a lot of life skills.”

Niya also credits the sport. “Basketball is my motivation. It keeps me going through the pressures of work and school.”

Coach Koonce, a full-time biology teacher at TMA, wanted to add coaching to her duties as a way to give back to the school community. She’s no stranger to the game; as a freshman she played on the Delaware State Unive

rsity basketball team, winning the state championship that year. She has some advice for her girls as they play their final games in the season.

“Leave it all on the court , and do your best with the skills you have – that’s enough.”

The Lady Warriors are headed to the playoffs the second week in February.

Click here for the Lady Warrior Basketball Schedule.

We’re Tier 1!

Thurgood Marshall Academy named Tier 1 School

School consistently earned top-rated distinction each year since 2012

WASHINGTON — For the eighth consecutive year, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School (TMA) earned a Tier 1 status 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 2019; the school has achieved Tier 1 status each year since the introduction of the rating system. 

“Earning a Tier 1 status is a reflection of the work with every student, from our Summer Prep program for incoming 9th graders, to the day we help many of our graduates move into their dorms as college freshmen,” said Raymond Weeden, TMA’s Executive Director. “For almost 20 years our school has proved all students will achieve at high levels when we provide the resources to succeed. Our community, students, family, and team are extremely proud of these results, and more importantly, that we are able to maintain high academic standards with robust support to allow each student to be college-ready high school graduates.”

Each year, the DC PCSB collects data on student outcomes for its Performance Framework (PMF). The PMF offers a comprehensive picture of school-wide success, using data beyond PARCC reading and math test scores to reflect 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% students of color and most of whom qualify for federal free and reduced-price meals, defy the odds for youth from Ward 8 – home to the majority of its students. Most of the school’s ninth-graders arrive two to five years behind grade level in math and reading. In April 2019, TMA’s tenth-graders took the PARCC exam and outpaced the city-wide average by 12 percentage points in English Language Arts (ELA) and 8 points in Geometry. In addition, twice the percentage of students in our at-risk population met or exceeded college ready expectations in ELA compared to similar students across DC.

To see the full PMF ratings and quality schools report, please visit the DC Public Charter Board site:

Thurgood Marshall Academy the top-performing high school East of the River on 2019 PARCC scores

TMA students show growth from 2018 tests and continue to outperform citywide peers


WASHINGTON – Results on the most recent Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment show that Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) is the top performing high school East of the River, and is in the top ten highest achieving high schools in the District of Columbia.

TMA’s students outpaced the city-wide average by 12 percentage points in English Language Arts (ELA) and 8 points in Geometry, and improved from last year’s scores by 10 percentage points in ELA and 5 points in Geometry.  In addition, twice the percentage of students in our at-risk population met or exceeded college ready expectations in ELA compared to similar students across DC.

The chart below shows the percentage of TMA students who met or exceeded college ready expectations in ELA and Geometry, compared to city-wide averages.

Subject TMA (Level 4+) City-Wide (Level 4+)
English Language Arts 46% 34%
Geometry 26% 18%


“These results confirm what many of us in the community already know,” said Raymond Weeden, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s new Executive Director. “Our students, families, staff, and teachers are working together to do something really impressive. TMA educates a majority of the students with the greatest needs in this city, and gives them the tools and support to be college and career ready.”

Administered in the Spring each year, the PARCC exam is one measure of students’ mastery of DC’s academic standards. Results are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with Levels 4 and 5 indicating that students are on track to leave high school ready for success in college and career. Level 3 signifies that students are approaching that readiness.

In addition to TMA students outperforming their peers at the 4+ level, 70% scored Level 3 or higher on the ELA assessment and 47% scored Level 3 or higher on the Geometry assessment.

“One reason these scores are so impressive is that each year, more than half of our incoming 9th grade students arrive at TMA with math and reading skills below grade level,” said Abdullah Zaki, Head of School. “Despite that starting point, everyone here believes each and every student can improve and eventually perform well on this rigorous state test. We back up that belief with strategies and resources to make sure they get all the support they need.”

Students continue their academic excellence throughout their time at TMA, graduating and then attending college at rates far above the District and national averages. The graduation rate for the Class of 2018 was 87%, and 84% of those graduating students enrolled in college within one year of graduation.

“As I work with this team in the coming school year, we will continue our commitment to infusing joy and rigor in the classroom so that even more of our students, regardless of where they live, receive a great education that prepares them to succeed in college and beyond,” said Mr. Weeden.

More information about PARCC can be found at


Founded in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and actively engage in our democratic society. Serving roughly 400 students, Thurgood Marshall Academy is an open enrollment public charter high school in Ward 8’s Anacostia, and one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the District. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through its commitment to providing an excellent education for all students.

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Summer Prep

Summer Prep is a really special opportunity for TMA’s incoming 9th graders. For a month, they get to meet grade level teachers, make new friends, and learn about TMA no brainers, legal skills and the schools mission. The students get a behind the scenes look at what makes Thurgood Marshall Academy a successful learning environment.

A day in the life of a summer prep student begins at 8:00am with a nutritional breakfast and chance to connect with other students before classes start at 8:30am. Students then engage in 75 minute classes to prepare them with high school content and effective strategies and habits to help on their educational journey. Midday, they enjoy lunch and time outside for recreational activities. Dismissal is at 1pm daily, aside from Tuesday’s where they get out a bit later due to Advisory. Summer advisory included special guests, student panels, college workshops, or groups that came in to enlighten the students with educational and cultural content..

Many of our TMA Educators opt for a shortened summer in order to teach summer prep each year. Some of Ms.Crosby favorite moments included…“college trips, I love seeing our students excited about college, and providing them information early in their high school journey. Also, seeing the THEN and NOW faces. The first day I see sad faces, because students would rather be at home, with friends, or realize they are at school in the summertime. As opposed to the last day, I see happy and sad faces. Only this time, the sad faces are because the program had ended and they wish for more weeks and happy faces because they have made new friendships, built relationships, love their new teachers and are thrilled to be joining the TMA community.”

And Ms. Miller favorite moment is from the Summer Law Day hosted by Wiley Rein LLP. “It was a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase a number of positive attributes- leadership, literacy, communication, and teamwork!   We had some surprise personalities come out and it was a delight to see the “lawyer” inside emerge!”

From this, we understand that summer prep is not just a program, it’s the beginning of their pathway to college! Here students begin to build and strengthen the grit, perseverance, and relationships needed to carry them through this important milestone.  After summer prep, they are prepared for life at Thurgood Marshall Academy and know that there is a dedicated team of staff and teachers ready to support them every step of the way!

Summer Law Day at Wiley Rein

On Friday July 19, our Summer Prep students had the opportunity to attend Law Day at Wiley Rein LLP in downtown DC. Dressed in professional wear, students worked with summer associates, law partners, and staff on contracts, TMA legal skills (research, argumentation, critical thinking, advocacy, and negotiation) and using your voice. Derek Petit, Wiley Rein Associate has been involved with Summer Law Day from the early days, and even helped facilitate our partnership with Howard Law (his alma mater). He really stressed “making a connection with the students,” to fellow Wiley Rein employees in the early morning training.

Understanding contracts is an important skill in life and as it relates to our TMA students, they will sign several contracts this fall to set expectations for the school year. School contracts like… code of conduct, anti-violence, homework help, computer lab safety, etc are just a few agreements that both the students and parents need to be aware of to be successful at Thurgood Marshall Academy. By the end of this session, students had a grasp of the three elements of contract negotiation: an offer, an acceptance, and a consideration.  “Each year the students bring such a great energy to law day. It’s my third year participating, the curriculum is so relevant for them and its always interesting seeing them gain confidence throughout the day, from the contract work to the mock trails,” says Samantha Lee, Wiley Rein Associate.

Next, the students were presented with a (situation) case and from that had to conduct a small claims mock trial. For most of our students this was their first time hearing of or participating in a mock trial. Many are familiar with Judge Judy or Judge Mathis and you should have seen the excitement when they were able to be the judge, plaintiff or defendant for the case. Students split up to discuss the evidence, write out talking points, and develop their arguments. This was Wiley Rein’s Counsel, Keith Matthews’ third year participating in TMA’s Summer Law Day. “I Iook forward to this each summer and this year’s group of students were excited and engaged in the law components.  I really enjoyed counseling the ‘judges’ during the mock trail. It was great to see student Ka’Niya decipher the word mitigate through our conversations.

At the end of the day, each group chose a ‘Lawyer of the Day’. This was awarded to a student who was an active participant, showed a certain zest for law, or displayed significant improvement or involvement throughout their time together.  Students were asked their favorite parts of law day? “Mock trials, being a judge, being in the law firm, winning my case, arguing with others, getting lawyer of the day, defending myself, talking to real lawyers,” exclaimed the students.

A special thank you to TMA’s Summer Prep Staff and Programs Team for all your hard work coordinating this incredible day. Lastly, to Diana Yee (Attorney Recruitment Assistant) and Janell Mallard (Senior Recruiting and Diversity Manager) with Wiley Rein for assisting with logistics of the 2019 TMA Summer Law Day!

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Congrats, Class of 2019!

On Friday June 14, our TMA seniors marched across the stage at the Cramton Auditorium on Howard University Campus and received their high school diplomas. There were happy tears, shouts of joy, and lots of hugs exchanged during the 2019 TMA Commencement.

Our graduates were accepted into more than eighty-five colleges, many receiving scholarship funds. Anthony James (Class of 2019, Salutatorian) is TMA’s first QuestBridge Scholarship Winner, he was awarded a full ride to University of Chicago. Jayla Holdip was awarded a POSSE Scholarship, giving her 4-year tuition and fees to University of Rochester. This years Valedictorian, India McNeil spoke and reflected on her high school years and shared her aspirations as she heads to Bates College this fall with various scholarships awarded as well.

With TMA’s law- themed, college prep curriculum, we strive to prepare our students for college and to be active and engaged citizens. Throughout their high school years, they completed four years of portfolios, partnered with Law firms, took college tours, endured countless intense course loads, did legal skills work, enrichment activities, AP classes, 100+ hours of community service, participated in sports, clubs and groups, and heard from incredible speakers both inside and outside the classroom.

We are so thrilled to see what is next for our TMA Warriors. They will attend schools across the U.S. such as University of San Francisco, Howard University, University of Connecticut, The Ohio State University, George Washington University, Penn State, Michigan State, Temple University, US Coast Guard, to name a few.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 for all of your hard work. On behalf of the teachers, staff, and community partners… we are so proud of you and cannot wait to hear of all the incredible things you do in college and beyond!

College Acceptances

We are so proud of our TMA Graduates, Class of 2019. Next stop… college!

Colleges Accepting Class of 2019 TMA Graduates
Alabama A&M University
Alabama State University
Albany State University
Albright College
Allegheny College
Baldwin Wallace University
Barry University
Bates College
Bennett College
Bowling Green State University
Brandeis University
Carthage College
Catawba College
Central State University
Centre College
Champlain College
Clark Atlanta University
Coppin State University
Delaware State University
Earlham College
Florida A&M University
Fordham University
Frostburg State University
George Mason University
Georgia State University
Goucher College
Guilford College
Hampton University
Harrisburg University of Science & Technology
Hartwick College
Hofstra University
Hood College
Howard University
Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)
Johnson C. Smith University
Kent State University
Kentucky State University
Lincoln University
Livingstone College
Longwood University
Marshall University
Marymount Manhattan College
Marymount University
McDaniel College
Michigan State University
Montgomery College – Silver Spring
Morgan State University
Mount Saint Mary’s University
New England College
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Northampton Community College
Old Dominion University
Pace University, New York City
Pennsylvania State University
Radford University
Saint Leo University
Shaw University
Shepherd University
Spelman College
St. John’s College
St. John’s University – Queens
SUNY Albany
Susquehanna University
Temple University
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University
The University of Tampa
Trinity Washington University
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Connecticut
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of Rochester
University of San Francisco
University of the District of Columbia
University of Vermont
Utica College
Virginia State University
Washington College
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Whittier College
Xavier University of Louisiana
York College of Pennsylvania