Monday, June 29, 2009

Student Shuffle!

The Student Shuffle is an opportunity for TMA students to share with the world what they are listening to. The process is simple: we will ask a student to bring his or her MP3 player into the office and set the machine to shuffle. The student will give a review of the first five tracks. No skips, no edits, no excuses.

Joining us in the office today is rising 11th grader Akasha-Regine Rodgers. Here, then, is her Student Shuffle:

Track 1: Coldplay, "Trouble"
Coldplay. My ex-boyfriend's sister got me into Coldplay. Her favorite song was "Clocks". I just went to itunes and searched a whole bunch of Coldplay songs and I was actually quite interested in it. So, I got a couple more songs by them. This one I don't really listen to in excess, but it's a good song.

Track 2: Jessica Simpson, "I Belong to Me"
Ugh, Jessica Simpson. Why do I have her on here actually? (laughs) Um, I think...(more laughing) no, my mom..I remember! This album, A Public Affair, my mom got it and, so, I was just in one of those phases where I was just trying to get as much music on my ipod as possible, so I just put the CD in and you know how as soon one song uploads it will play automatically? The first song is like, (sings) "All the girls steppin' out for a public affair..." So I was just bopping to that for a couple of minutes and then I thought about it. It was like: this is Jessica Simpson. So. Let's just skip this song.

Track 3: Nina Simone, "To Love Somebody"
Aww, Nina Simone. Yes. Me and my mom sing out loud to her music, actually. I'm into a lot of old school, especially like Blackstreet, As Yet, Sugarhill Gang. So, whenever me and my mom are cleaning the house or something we'll blast old school. It's fun. It's extremely fun. Nina Simone is great.

Track 4: Living Language - Learn Japanese, "Lesson 24: Conversation"
That's my Japanese track. That's not music; I'm learning Japanese. Ok, so, I'm obessed with Japan, I guess. I love manga, I love anime, I love everything about it, and so for Christmas my mom got me this 40-lesson learning Japanese thing. So, once I get my culinary arts degree and move to Japan I can open up my restaurant there. That's my plan. I've kinda taken a back seat on it, so I can get my schoolwork together. I listen to that and I read the book and I practice the characters and whatnot. I'm pretty good with the accent, actually. (Speaks a bit of Japanese that sounds very authentic) That means something about friendship. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. (Laughs).

Track 5: Pitbull, "Oye Loca"
Pitbull is the most provactive artist on the face of the planet. He's like a Cuban Ludacris. I love his music and I've always been into reggaeton. It makes me dance. It makes me jump up and down. I love Pitbull with a passion. If I ever meet him...I'm not into the "OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU" type thing, I have always hated that because they're people just like us...but I definitely think if I met Pitbull I just might faint.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When programs connect...

This is a picture of Erin and Symone Smith from our November Mentor Day excursion to Sharp's Farm in Maryland. Erin and Symone participated in the 2008-2009 Mentor Program, traveling to various Mentor Day events throughout the year and forming a relationship while spending time together on their own.

At right is a picture of Symone and Senator Byron Dorgan taken during the TMA Job Shadow Day program. Symone's mentor Erin works for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed by Sen. Dorgan. Erin arranged for Symone to spend the day working in Sen. Dorgan's office as part of our Job Shadow program.

This is a great example of what can happen our students form relationships with community members: our programs ultimately become better and more fulfilling for everyone involved.

Erin and Symone, you rock.

superior heart, superior mind, Superior Court.

Oridinarily, clerking for a judge is an opportunity reserved for second-year law students. Thurgood Marshall Academy has never considered what is ordinary when designing our programs.

Starting this week, nine TMA students will intern for judges appointed to various courts in the DC Superior Court system; these courts include but are not limited to family, criminal, civil and probate court. Over the summer, our students will witness, participate in, and examine complex court cases, develop their skills as advocates, and observe judges hearing the most pressing cases of our day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Brain Drain

The end of the school year is certainly a busy time for students here at TMA, in a span of a few very short weeks they must finish out their end of the year lessons, intensely study for final exams, take final exams, and finally present their portfolio presentations. Come the last day of portfolio presentations, students are far more concerned with securing summer employment or the location of the nearest pool than they are with ways in which they can hone academic skills over the summer.

To the possible chagrin of our students, a recent Washington Post article discusses the important relationship between how students spend summer vacation and retention of material from the school year.

The study suggests that it is possible to retain all the academic skills one learned in the previous year. More importantly the study suggests that, with something as simple as reading 30 minutes a day, one can actually strengthen and improve upon the skills gained in the previous year.

In an effort to provide TMA students with opportunities to gain valuable experience over the summer, the TMA Programs Office publishes a summer opportunities guide that is full of great possibilities for our students. These opportunities cover areas of interest including Law, Politics, Writing, Arts, Science and other leadership opportunities. Many of these programs occur right here in DC and are a great way for students to gain professional experience as well as hone their academic and leadership skills. The Summer Opportunities Guide, as well as other resources for students, is published on our website.

Know of any exciting things our students should be doing this summer? Have any additions to our summer opportunities? We'd love to hear them, feel free to leave any ideas as comments.

Bullying in the Age of the Internet

In every high school in the country, teenagers are trying to figure out how to get along, how to coexist, and how to feel good about themselves. Often, students face harsh verbal attacks and threats at school. In the past, they were afforded some measure of safety once they went home. That safety is no longer guaranteed.

Increasingly, students are using social networking sites to harass each other. Last week, the Washington Post featured an article about a slanderous website that was recently shut down. It is a chilling reminder that high school students may have fewer safe spaces than they used to.

One thing we love about TMA and about the Programs Department is that we get to work to create safe spaces for our kids. Every day after school, we open our library up for almost three hours and offer tutoring, computer access, and healthy snacks. Of course, simply offering a safe space does not solve the problem. We must empower our students to combat bullying. We must be a source of positive change.

In the past school year, 25 TMA students served as Anti-Defamation League Peer Trainers, working with other students to combat prejudice and prevent bullying. In 2005-2006, Yale University completed a study of this program. The results indicate that peers can have a significant impact in preventing bullying.

Have some thoughts of your own? Let us know your experiences with bullying, slanderous websites, or what we can do to be part of the solution.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gardens don't take summer vacation.

So the green club doesn't take summer vacation. This morning, walking from the metro to the school, I saw Keith Jenkins and Ms. Johnson out in the garden weeding, taking notes, and trying to solve some bug problems. Check it out!