College Preparatory Curriculum
Thurgood Marshall Academy prepares our students for college and life afterward by providing a challenging academic curriculum infused with the theme of law and justice. We know that not all of our students strives to enter the legal field, but we do believe that five essential legal skills—argumentation, negotiation, critical thinking, research, and advocacy—will prepare students for success in any career. Cultivating these abilities improves our students’ opportunities for success and enhances possibilities for their communities.
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 six Advanced Placement classes (English Literature, English Language, US History, Calculus AB, Computer Science, and US Government & Politics), 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, introduction to business, debate, drama, advanced topics in history, psychology, sociology, and Street Law. We also have established partnerships with local universities so our students can take be dually enrolled in college courses for college credit during their junior and senior year.
Thurgood Marshall Academy believes that every student can go to college; in pursuit of that goal, we offer a specialized program, at every grade-level:
- Ninth- and tenth-grade students enroll in our Summer Prep program to facilitate the transition from other schools to the rigorous academic environment at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
- Freshman and sophomore students enroll in double-block English and math classes resulting in students’ taking twice as much classroom instruction as their peers in traditional high school programs.
- All Thurgood Marshall Academy 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.
- Thurgood Marshall Academy seniors participate in Senior Seminar, a year-long class taught by our college counseling staff. During the course, students 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.
Legal Education and Programs
Thurgood Marshall Academy’s 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 ninth grade through the Law Day program, 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 are enrolled in introduction to law, led by an attorney on staff; Street Law, offered in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center; or intern for a judge at the DC Superior Court, an opportunity typically only offered to law students. 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.
Thurgood Marshall Academy’s 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.
Thurgood Marshall Academy students learn in and out of the classroom, and from teachers, mentors, advisors, attorneys, and peers. We have established partnerships with more than 30 organizations throughout DC to help make it possible for students to pursue a wide range of interests and dreams. Students:
- 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
- Argue on the debate team
- Write for the student newspaper
- Perform with the drama club and dance team
- Build and program robots to perform specific tasks then compete with Robotics teams across DC and Maryland
- Improve the earth through Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Green Club, which maintains the largest school garden in the District.