Maya Angelou Public Charter High School Staff

Azalia Speight

Azalia H. Speight is an experienced school leader that specializes in turnaround and school improvement efforts, specifically in the high school and alternative education settings.

She began her career in education in 2002 and has taught students in Prince George’s County, MD and Washington, DC. In 2006, she accepted an opportunity to serve as a program analyst for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) before joining DCPS in 2007 as a School Improvement Officer. She served as Principal of Luke C. Moore High School for six years and led the school to marked improvements. During her tenure at DCPS, she was awarded the Kennedy Centers Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Principals.

Now in her 13th year in education, Azalia continues to pursue her passion as a cutting-edge education reformer. As a result of her determined leadership, students achieved double-digit gains in reading and math on standardized tests as well as the striking increase in student attendance and engagement. As a turnaround leader, Azalia exhibits a broad knowledge of current trends in education and constantly motivates members of the school community to try new, creative techniques that continually improve academic outcomes for students. She possesses an exceptional ability to inspire and motivate students, teachers, parents and community members and is able to effectively relate to people of all levels and diverse backgrounds and has a passion for championing the needs of urban, inner city, alternative,  disadvantaged and multicultural school communities.

Azalia H. Speight holds a BA from Penn State University, a MS in Organizational Leadership from Nyack College, and an Executive Masters in Leadership from Georgetown University.

Dr. Kamal Wright-Cunningham, Director of Social-Emotional Learning & Culture

Kamal Wright-Cunningham has almost fifteen years of experience working with at-risk adolescents in underserved communities in Boston, Massachusetts, New York City, and the Washington, DC metro area. Kamal has served as a mental health clinician, program developer, researcher, and school administrator. A large part of his work has focused on the intersection between the impact of untreated trauma, externalizing behaviors, and resilience. More specifically, his work has primarily been in the service of students and families who have been traditionally underserved. Additionally, he has participated in the restructuring of schools, developed and administered programs in schools, and provided direct clinical services to students and families. Early in his career, Kamal’€™s work was primarily in working with at-risk adolescents who had a history of adjudication. This work included providing individual and group counseling support to adolescents residing in group homes and non-secure detention facilities. Additionally, Kamal was instrumental in providing individual and familial support to survivors of sexual trauma at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland. Kamal was the first, and only, male to work at the Sexual Assault Center at PG Hospital Center and found this work especially rewarding because of the lack of therapeutic support traditionally available for male survivors of sexual trauma. Most recently, Kamal has lead a dynamic team of mental health clinicians at Maya Angelou Public Charter School that is committed to creating a model for providing educational services for students who have not been successful in more traditional schools. This effort includes the collection of data about presenting issues and risk factors, which are used to identify the needs of the students, shape and monitor the interventions, and assess their effectiveness. This effort blends direct clinical interventions with an increased focus on the organizational climate. This exciting approach holds promise for a strategy that will engage students who have not progressed in their previous school programs. Kamal received a Ph.D. in Counseling and Human Development from George Washington University, a M.A.Ed. in Counseling from Hunter College, and a B.A. in Eastern Religion from Boston University. He is a licensed clinical counselor in the District of Columbia and Maryland.