[Insert Text here or below gallery]
The second week of June was full of pomp and circumstance as Maya Angelou Schools awarded over 70 diplomas and certificates to graduates of the Maya Angelou Academy, Young Adult Learning Center, and Maya Angelou Public Charter School.
The Maya Angelou Academy graduation was held at the Gala Hispanic Theatre in the Columbia Heights neighborhood on June 12th. The four graduates showed tremendous poise while receiving their diplomas and GED certificates on stage. During the reflections reading, the graduates exhibited maturity and self-awareness as they shared personal stories of growth and gratitude.
One graduate admitted that the silver lining of being in New Beginnings was that he was able to attend Maya Angelou Academy. “I was glad to came to this school with a plan because they were so willing to help me succeed.”
The following evening, Young Adult Learning Center staff, students, and families gathered in the same venue to celebrate the 31 graduates who earned their GED or completed their Home Builders Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Certification Training (PACT) this school year. The ceremony was inspiring and emotional; several YALC graduates—all of whom at one point in their lives dropped out of High School—shared how they overcame significant obstacles and personal struggles to get to where they were today. The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Sharece Crawford, a native Washingtonian who serves as ANC Commissioner for the District of Columbia.
The Maya Angelou Public Charter School graduation ceremony took place at Trinity Washington University on the morning of June 15th. Yasmin Salina of The Hustler’s Guild, a community impact organization that serves underrepresented youth, was the guest speaker of the afternoon.
Six graduates shared their senior reflections with their mentors standing right beside them. One of the graduates, John’nae, who will be attending West Virginia State University this fall, talked about the biggest lesson she learned in high school:
“If you cannot be yourself around people you associate with or students who claim to be your friends, then you should find people who accept you for who you are. People are going to hurt you, but you have to forgive them. If you do not forgive, you are allowing them to have power over your life.”
For Quion, he feels more prepared for the real world with his high school diploma: “As a young black man, it is hard to grow up in the ghetto and not fall victim to street life and gang violence. To me, high school was a way to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to and I can be great.” Quion’s goal is to obtain certifications in barbering, mechanics, and graphic design while earning a degree from a four-year college.
The MAPCS Class of 2018 received an astounding $200,000 in scholarship money and 74% of the graduating class has been accepted to college. They have been accepted to or will be attending the following schools:
- Philander Smith College
- Bethune Cookman University
- Lincoln University
- University of the District of Columbia (UDC)
- UDC Workforce Development Program
- Prince George’s Community College
- Trinity Washington University
- Norfolk State University
- Virginia State University
- West Virginia State University
- Hampton University
- Allegany College of Maryland
- Montgomery College
- Bowie State University
- AVEDA Institute
- Bennett Career Institute
The Maya Angelou Schools & See Forever Foundation is incredibly proud of the momentous achievements of our graduates. We hope that they will continue to exemplify the Maya qualities of leadership, excellence, and positivity in their next steps. Welcome to the Maya Alumni family!
For the second year in a row, the Maya Angelou Schools & See Forever Foundation will be partnering with the Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship program. This summer, we have welcomed three passionate individuals who bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences to our organization.
Read their bios below to find out more about their previous experiences and goals for the summer!
Michael Lok first found his place and passion in the classroom. After college, he worked at a middle school in Boston that experimented with small-group teaching and blended learning. Using data-driven lesson planning and collaborating with parents and school staff, his students were able to achieve remarkable growth – the majority of his students attained student growth percentiles of 80% or higher on their standardized PARCC tests.
This summer, Michael will join the data team to analyze enrollment data for future decision-making and strategy-planning. He will also be working with the leadership team in transitioning to a new platform for increased productivity and efficiency.
Rachel Lucero is an Education Pioneers fellow working on building out an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) framework for students at Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools. The ILP provides a system for a student’s support team to track a student’s progress and goals in academic as well as social and emotional domains throughout their time at MAPCS. Prior to joining MAPCS, Rachel taught Math and Physics at Dunbar High School in DC Public Schools, where she will continue teaching this fall. Her previous experience includes work in the healthcare IT industry as a technical analyst manager. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Education at Johns Hopkins University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering at the University of Washington.
Vanessa Vaughn completed her undergraduate business studies at The University of Texas at Austin. However, her senior year, she was introduced to the problem of educational inequity and decided to forgo a career in the private sector to join Teach for America (TFA). Vanessa taught 8th grade math at a failing charter school for two years in Baton Rouge, LA. During her time as a classroom teacher she saw how the challenges facing her students at home greatly affected their ability to learn in the classroom so, upon completing her TFA commitment, she joined Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge. Coming from undergraduate studies in business, Vanessa became frustrated with the inefficiencies she encountered in the non-profit sector so she determined to gain her MBA at Johns Hopkins University where she is currently a 2019 candidate. Vanessa is greatly looking forward to her time as an Education Pioneers Fellow at See Forever Foundation this summer as she will be able to combine her studies in business with her passion for the education sector.
For more information about the Education Pioneers program, please visit www.educationpioneers.org
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2018 – Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles and Johnson Bademosi of the Houston Texans visited the Maya Angelou Learning Center to volunteer with students following the high school’s graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon. The two NFL players offered words of encouragement and advice to the rapt audience of about 75 students and staff, including four young men from the Maya Angelou Academy, a school for adjudicated youth in Laurel, Maryland.
“Education has given me the opportunity to see things and do things that I never could have dreamed of. But it all started with me taking care of my business, taking care of my grades,” said Bademosi, who is also a native of Washington D.C., a fact that he emphasized when talking about his own journey from student to professional athlete. “You can do whatever you want to do… This is coming from someone who is from here. I know what it’s like.”
Jenkins, an active leader of the controversial Player’s Coalition, also spoke about the importance of education and learning in general. “You don’t know what you don’t know. Always ask questions. Be thirsty to learn because your freedom, your ability to move in this life is based on how much you know.”
After a few pictures and autographs, Bademosi and Jenkins took part in several activities with Maya students including a salad and smoothie-making station. As they tossed salads and mixed up smoothies, the players talked about their diet and exercise regimens and the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet with the students. Students also tried out new vegetables from the salad bar and cautiously sipped green smoothies from Bademosi’s own recipe book.
Jenkins also took part in the “Sip and Paint” station led by student Candida, a sophomore at Maya Angelou Public Charter School. He helped paint signs for the Young Adult Learning Center in a variety of styles and colors.
Students also primed shipping containers in preparation for a student mural. The afternoon ended with an outdoor barbeque on the tennis courts of the campus.
About Maya Angelou Schools/See Forever Foundation
Our mission is to create learning communities in lower income urban areas where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential and prepare for college, career, and a lifetime of success. At Maya Angelou our students develop the academic, social, and employment skills they need to build rewarding lives and promote positive change. MAPCS high school, Young Adult Learning Center and Academy at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center provide a comprehensive education in a non-traditional setting to all students including those who have not been successful in their educational experiences. We achieve this through a demanding academic program, socio-emotional learning support, and tiered interventions that focus on the whole child. Our students will leave us with a foundation to be successful in their pursuit of education and careers.
Team members from Washington Valor visited the Maya Angelou Learning Center for a surprise visit on June 5, 2018.
Jordan Mudge, Jimmy Gordon, and Reggie Grey of the D.C.’s professional arena football team volunteered alongside our students for an afternoon of community service and beautification projects around the campus. They painted shipping containers in preparation for a mural, harvested produce from the recently unveiled “Hoop House” Urban Farm, and planted flowers around the school.
We thank Washington Valor for dedicating their time and service to our students; they were thrilled to have met and interacted with the players.
Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation Inspires 400 at the 20th Anniversary Gala
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2018 – Over 400 guests arrived at Dock 5 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Maya Angelou Schools & See Forever Foundation. The event honored various alumni and families while also spotlighting the work of the founders, key stakeholders, and leaders of the organization. The evening program also included an appearance and conversation with special guest Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“[Maya Angelou Schools] is truly is one of the most visionary programs that I know of anywhere,” she said before sharing her thoughts on the importance of nurturing risk-taking ideas and problem-solving leaders.
She spoke candidly with founder James Forman and Board Member Cheryl Mills on the topics of “radical empathy,” the previous election, and even her thoughts on the characters of Black Panther.
Students from the Maya Angelou Public Charter School were also a key part of the evening. Members from the high school’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism circulated the crowds with hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour and the Cheer team helped bolster the celebratory atmosphere and usher guests into the dining room. Seniors Faith Boyd and John’nae Childs, both members of the Maya Ambassador Corps, introduced Secretary Clinton while also sharing their own stories of perseverance and hope. Alum Devonte Howard traveled from his university in Charlotte, North Carolina to prep and cook with professional catering staff behind the curtains.
An excellent three-course meal was provided by Ridgewell’s Catering Company. Guests danced the night away to the beat-busting jams of the Special Occasion Band while sipping drinks supplied by Diageo. Flowers by Urban Petals Floral Design adorned the tables. Special thanks to Ched Nunez Productions, Gallery D Photography, and Wake Forest University for their creative contributions.
The gala would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners. Key contributors include WilmerHale, Jack Davies & Kay Kendall, Meridel Bulle-Vu & Michael Vu, and Reid Weingarten. For a full list of our sponsorship list, please see the gallery below.
The Maya Angelou Schools & See Forever Foundation is an education nonprofit whose mission is to create learning communities in low-income urban areas where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can grow academically and socially. The Maya network of schools currently serves about 500 students across our charter high school, Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a long-term secure facility for D.C. youth who have been adjudicated, and the Young Adult Learning Center, a GED and workforce development center for disconnected young adults.
For more information about our schools, programs, and partnerships, please visit www.seeforever.org.
Our Stuff the Truck event was a huge success! On Saturday, September 30, students, staff, and volunteers gathered outside of the Maya Schools to collect donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Churches, organizations, and individuals drove up to the curb with bags full of donations, ready to be loaded on the U-Haul Truck.
The energy on Saturday was contagious as members of the community united to help victims in Texas. Volunteers showed up early to prepare boxes, each labeled with the type of donation they held. As the day went on, teams of contributors drove up with truck-fulls of clothes, toys, and toiletries to donate. Long after the official event ended, volunteers still eagerly sorted clothes and filled boxes.
The day was triumphant for both the students we will be donating to at YES Public Charter School in Houston, Texas and our Maya family. Not only did we fill the entire U-Haul truck, but donations kept pouring in even after the truck was closed! It was inspiring to see the community come together to support hurricane victims. We are proud to have helped those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We want to send a special “thank you” to all of the Maya students who volunteered and those in the community who gave a helping hand. We couldn’t have done it without you. This event was a true example of the Maya Way!
The highlight from the bash was the flag football game between students and the Metropolitan Police Department. The game promoted healthy, positive relationships between the students and MPD. The Police Department pulled off a win, which makes MPD and students tied 1-1. The students can’t wait to see who wins the next game!
When the students and their families arrived, they were greeted by hugs and smiles from their favorite staff members. Teachers served hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and ice cream to families while they enjoyed music from DJ Finesse.
The High School recently implemented a new uniform of tan pants and a gray or red polo shirts, which were sold to students at the event. The enrollment team was able to enroll students on the spot, and Dr. Blake introduced himself to all the attendees as the new principal and gave them a warm welcome to Maya Angelou PCS.
As students prepare to move in to their residential houses this year, we reflect on the relationships built between seniors and their residential counsellors. Daneetra J. has lived in Ms. Rainey’s residential house near H Street for three years, and is about to enter her final year at Maya.
Ms. Rainey has been a residential counselor since the program first started and has previous experience working in residences for other schools and organizations. Daneetra first came to Ms. Rainey because she had behavioral problems at school, her grades were suffering, and she was facing other issues at home. She knew the program would be beneficial to herself, so she joined and has grown tremendously since.
Daneetra is excited to move in to the residential house for her last year because she loves Ms. Rainey’s food and appreciates how she makes the house feel like home. She provides nice sheets and towels, buys flowers for the house, has family-style dinners, and gives the girls anything else they may need. Daneetra shared that she has eczema and cannot always afford the cream, so Ms. Rainey will buy it for her. One thing Ms. Rainey is persistent on is always making herself available to the students and telling them to “have a good day” as they walk out the door in the morning.
Ms. Rainey knows all youth need “attention, love, and support” and that is exactly what she gives to Daneetra. Ms. Rainey recalls that Daneetra barely spoke to her the first year because she was shy and did not like the program, but one day she approached Ms. Rainey and admitted the program was not as bad as she once thought, and that she liked it.
Daneetra claims Ms. Rainey has helped her through a lot, and is like a second mother to her; “She’s a person that I could talk to if something was going wrong. Anything.” She has helped Daneetra come out of her shell, improve her grades and attendance, and ease any tension or misunderstandings between her and her mom.
Since attending the residential program, school staff have approached Ms. Rainey to tell her they “can’t believe where Daneetra is now!” Her grades and attendance have improved, she is more involved in the school, and her confidence has boosted.