About the School

Acting Principal: Ms. Azalia Speight
Direct Line: 202-299-3139
Cell:  202-384-7850

Assistant Principal: Ms. Felecia Hayward-Lawson

Without intervention, only one in 10 students who have been adjudicated delinquent will go on to get a high school diploma. The Maya Angelou Academy works every day to change this statistic, and encourages students to not only graduate, but to go on to post-secondary education options and careers.

Located in the New Beginnings Youth Development Center (formerly Oak Hill Detention Center), the Maya Angelou Academy’s goal is to provide a safe, nurturing, and mutually respectful environment that motivates and prepares incarcerated young men to fulfill their academic or career potential. With the support of a wide circle of caring adults, these students develop the skills they need to make sound decisions and lead rewarding lives. Residents at New Beginnings are referred to as scholars, setting a tone of respect and high expectations when they first enter the facility. Throughout their time at New Beginnings, these scholars participate in therapeutic, level-based programming, designed to help them prepare to return to the community.

Scholars learn with their residential units in small classrooms of 10-15 scholars. Because about 50 percent of our students have special needs and there is a great amount of diversity in the age, skill, and ability levels, each classroom is equipped with both a general education teacher and an assisting leadership corps member or assistant teacher. Teachers use a variety of instructional methods, combining direct instruction with project-based, cooperative learning strategies.

For the Maya Angelou Academy students who have completed the Model Program at New Beginnings, twice as many are attending school or working on a regular basis when they leave us compared to data collected during our first year of operation in 2007.Additionally, we have a number of scholars who leave New Beginnings each year and go directly to college or after a few months of their release.(This scenario is virtually unheard of in a youth correctional context.)

Key Staff

Felecia Hayward-Lawson
Director of Special Education
Azalia H. Speight 
Managing Director
Karen Remington
Dean of Academics
Tammy Fenton
Dean of Students
Natosha Speight Ph.D.
School Psychologist
Maggie Kennedy
Director of Finance