Friday, May 29, 2015

Out-of-School-Time Programs Prepare Students for College: Carlos’ Story

Carlos McKnight is a well-rounded high school student whose participation in Thurgood Marshall Academy’s (TMA) extra-curricular activities has given him a sure advantage to perform well at Daemen College this fall. With plans to major in Political Science, McKnight’s long-terms goals are to get involved in government and, eventually, run for public office.

Today, his long-term goals are a reality but McKnight remembers when the idea of going to college was simply that – an idea. “I am proud that I was accepted into college,” he said. “It was something that I only dreamed about. I never thought that I could go to college.”

McKnight, like 96% of TMA students, is from one of DC’s most underserved communities. Ward 8, where TMA is located, has the lowest high school and graduation rates in the city. But McKnight has defied the odds. On June 12th, he will graduate with a 3.1 G.P.A. He leaves behind his contribution to the Debate Team, School Band, Gay Straight Alliance, school newspaper, and other after-school clubs.

Each year, TMA offers approximately 15 clubs that encourage students’ personal development, provide opportunities to build leadership skills, and connect students with their communities. Providing students with clubs and extra-curricular activities support TMA’s mission to prepare students for college and to actively engage in our democratic society. Out-of-school-time projects or extended teacher availability give students wrap-around supports to ensure students thrive beyond the classroom as future college students.

“In addition to clubs to get involved in, the [teacher] office hours are the best thing about TMA,” said McKnight. “Not only do I get help, but I am exposed to the same experiences as college students. TMA, in all forms, has programs that help students succeed and prepare us for college.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saturday School Helps Students Prepare for Finals

Social Studies Teacher Joshua Biederman shares his experience teaching Saturday School to help students prepare for end-of-school year exams.

Teachers at TMA put in an incredible amount of time, thought, and action into preparing students for exams. Our students are dedicated and aim to be better, especially during this time of the year. TMA students take a GREAT DEAL of exams and even though students essentially earn the test scores, we, as teachers, play a crucial role in this process.

As an educator, I take pride in going the extra mile to prepare students for the slew of exams that they are required to take in order to advance to the next grade or be accepted into college. In addition to passing content specific exams in all their classes, students must take PARCC assessments in English, Math, and Biology, the SAT, the ACT, SAT II content exams, and AP exams. It’s no joke, and requires massive preparation.

So what do we do at TMA?  

We offer Saturday School and give students time outside of the traditional classroom setting to prepare for exams.

While this does require teachers to prepare additional lessons for an additional day of work, TMA teachers still put forth the extra effort. It is easy to do when you have an administration that supports you and students who are willing to study hard. Thanks to the support that TMA provides, including free lunch for students on these days, it is productive to work with students outside of the barriers and structure of traditional class.

What students and teachers look forward to most is the freedom that we can take advantage of on a weekend day. There’s no need to grade student work and students have the room to shout out answers and other fragments of information as it comes to mind. The beauty is not worrying about disrupting other classrooms and being surrounded by enthusiastic young people who gave up their Saturday because they are eager to learn.

Getting any student to school six days a week could be a struggle, but I have always found it easy to work with students on Saturdays. TMA offers incentives – a fabulous field trip to King’s Dominion amusement park – for students who improve their scores and attend Saturday sessions. So really, students have nothing to lose.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hosts of TMA’s Job Shadow Day Are Inspired by Students’ Enthusiasm and Willingness to Learn

This year’s Job Shadow Day was an amazing opportunity for students in the sophomore class to explore careers and make professional connections.

Students look forward Job Shadow Day, an opportunity to travel to a job placement site and swap their school uniform for business attire. But the hosts, many of whom are experts in their line of work, are just as eager to mentor students and introduce them to typical work day activities. Job Shadow Day gives hosts a chance to experience, first-hand, the drive and hunger that TMA students continue to put forth in an effort to learn more about their future crafts.

Below are testimonials from this year’s hosts:

The company loved having DeAndre around. He got to meet with folks in several departments, do an energy efficiency walk-through of a commercial building, and visit the Earth Conservation Corps’ historic pump house on the Anacostia to learn about their programs.” Cory, DC Sustainable Energy Utility

The students are very outgoing and friendly. One of them, who expressed interest in being a lawyer, asked great questions after reading some case-related materials. Overall, they led educated discussions and are great students who are very intelligent and were very helpful.” Inez, Williams & Connolly, LLP

Christina was a pleasure to have at the office. She spent the day with FHH attorneys, watching us work, asking questions, and sharing her interest in going to law school one day. We even had a chance to treat her to a viewing spot on the rooftop patio, where we saw the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover in honor of the 70th anniversary of the V-E Day. It was definitely a perfect time for her to visit.” Jonathan, Fletcher Heald & Hildreth

Tayanna and Tiffany are a bit worn out, but we had fun! We walked the campus quite a bit and saw key areas of the schools. I was sure to take them on a tour of the engineering school and the medical school. Before they left, we presented them with emergency kits that will keep them informed about occupational health.  I think they've learned a lot about how we keep students, staff, and faculty of the university safe.” Naomi, George Washington University

TMA partners with a number of career professionals throughout the DC Metro area who host students at their respective place of work and offer advice on professionalism, new careers, and the necessary academic steps and skills required to become leaders in their field of choice.

If you want to introduce TMA students to a career you’re passionate about and host a Job Shadow Day in the future, please email Molly Rothschild:

Participating Job Placements include: