View past issues: September-October 2019
The Knightly News
Kingsman Academy Community Newsletter
November - December 2019
In this issue
• One World Education partnership in Humanities
• Addressing gun violence in our communities
• Get to know Ms. Hotaki
• Sports update
• Student artwork
• Director's message on accreditation
Students Write With Conviction
Humanities team partners with One World Education to build student research skills
College athletes should be paid. Animal testing should be outlawed. Juveniles should never be tried as adults. These are some of the claims Kingsman Academy high school students are defending in humanities class. Our humanities teachers have teamed up with One World Education, a Washington, D.C., community organization, to bring a new social justice writing curriculum to Kingsman Academy. The One World Education program helps students become better researchers, better writers, and better public speakers. Students are highly engaged in the project because they are able to choose a topic they feel strongly about and monitor their own progress. “It’s a challenging program and it’s been difficult, but the students have really shown fortitude and pushed through,” said Kingsman Academy humanities teacher Kris Crossett. “The key is that we didn’t place any limits on the topics the students could choose, so they’re all writing about something they really care about.”
The next step in the program is a city-wide challenge, where Kingsman Academy students have a chance to be accepted into the One World Education academy, where they can further improve their ability to make a strong claim and back it up with evidence alongside students from high schools across the District. One World Education brought their curriculum to Kingsman Academy, and we have given back to their larger community as well. Mr. Crossett developed a novel system for students to self-monitor their progress that has been promoted by One World Education among their other participating schools.
Mr. Crossett is also adding a whole new dimension to this project within Kingsman Academy. His students will tap into a world-wide network of high school English classes to broaden the scope of their research. They are developing surveys on their topic that will be taken by students as far away as India and Brazil. Our students will then incorporate these other perspectives into their essays. “It will be so great for our students to see perspectives on their topic from all over the world," Mr. Crossett explained. "In the middle east they might think this way, in South America they might think another way. It’s exciting.”
Addressing Gun Violence in Our Communities
There were 141 homicides in the District of Columbia in 2018, up 38% from the year before. That number has already been eclipsed by November of 2019. Shootings and killings disproportionately affect black and brown communities, and gun violence has impacted the lives of many members of the Kingsman Academy family who have lost family members, friends, and classmates. Kingsman Academy Director of Integrated Comprehensive Services Katrina Foster explains, “A lot of the violence is happening with drive by shootings, so it can affect people who have nothing to do with beef or the argument that is going on. People have to worry about taking the Metro or waiting for the bus. This impacts kids traveling to and from school, especially students in our evening school program. It’s terrible when a student can’t make school a priority because they have to make their life a priority.”
Kingsman Academy participates in the D.C. government’s Safe Passage program that is focused on ensuring student safety getting to and from school. We have van transportation that is just for Kingsman Academy students. “It’s a private van that stops at certain locations close to our students’ homes,” Ms. Foster explained. “We also have an intervention specialist Mr. Carson and a student support social worker Mr. Kemp who go out into the neighborhoods to check on the students. They really get to know what’s happening in the neighborhoods so we can make sure our students are safe and get them the support they need at school.”
Students and teachers from Kingsman Academy attended an advocacy day in October to discuss the rising gun violence with Mayor Bowser and D.C. City Council members. The event was held in collaboration with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. We help students process and discuss the causes and effects of gun violence and other issues as part of our class curriculum and during group meeting times like Morning Motivation and Krew. We have social workers and intervention specialists to support students when they are hurting and safety specialists and behavior interventionists to ensure Kingsman Academy is always a safe space. Art class is another good place to process feelings, as can be seen in this artwork made by a Kingsman Academy student who lost her brother.
"Relationships Are Everything"
Get to know Director of Behavior Interventions, Zarmina Hotaki
Ms. Zarmina Hotaki is the new Director of Behavior Interventions at Kingsman Academy. She leads our positive behavior support program, which is how we teach students what we expect, and our restorative justice program, which is how we repair damage when something goes wrong. “We have a three-pronged approach,” explains Ms. Hotaki. “Build community, be proactive, and repair harm instead of just having students punished.”
Ms. Hotaki brings a great deal of experience to this leadership role. She has been a teacher and school leader for 18 years. She also spent several years working in an acute care psychiatric hospital in Virginia. “Working in the hospital really helped me understand my students and the importance of feeling safe and cared for,” she explained. Prior to joining Kingsman Academy, Ms. Hotaki served for eight years as the principal of an international school in Qatar. She described, “My students in Qatar were extremely vulnerable because they had learning issues and were not accepted in the society. We had huge behavior problems — we weren’t even allowed to play in the soccer league because the kids were so rough. We implemented a positive behavior intervention program and project-based learning, and we went from a school that was about to be shut down to being given the Excellence Award for the best international school by the ministry of education.”
Ms. Hotaki continued, “A lot of people have biases about people who are in vulnerable communities. They think they’re dangerous or out of control. No way! When you build relationships with students, you can trust them with your life. Relationships are everything. When students gets agitated or upset, we have to remind ourselves they are struggling with so many bigger things and use our relationships with the students to help make things better.”
Ninth-grader Gregory Lawton
I am 13 years old and in the Odyssey program. I have been at Kingsman Academy for 3 years.
I am learning a lot about vocabulary development in Humanities. STEM is my best class. I really like the structure in the class, and I know what's expected of me. I'm trying to get 4s all the time in STEM.
Basketball is my favorite activity. I get to play during PE and lunch. After school I play basketball, too, or video games. I want to learn how to be a professional gamer.
I have four brothers and six sisters. I am the youngest. The oldest is 37. They helped take care of me when I was growing up. We all get together and travel sometimes. Mostly we enjoy each others’ company.
My friends are really important to me. I get emotional support from my friends and also they protect me.
from Executive Director Shannon Hodge
Happy winter! I’m excited to share with you two important updates.
First, we’re fully accredited!
Accreditation is a signal that a school has met independent standards of quality. For almost two years, a team of Kingsman Academy faculty and staff worked to complete the accreditation process through the Middle States Association. In the process, they reached out to many of you, to get your feedback and recommendations for the school. Their hard work paid off, as the association voted to grant us full accreditation for a seven-year period beginning on December 1, 2019.
What does being an accredited school mean for Kingsman Academy? It is a stamp of approval for our school model, plan, and outcomes. It makes it easier for our students to attend certain colleges, qualify for certain grants and loans, and complete the NCAA student-athlete process. It also helps us identify areas of improvement for the next few years.
The second update is that the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) will review our progress on our charter goals at its meeting on Monday, December 16. At that time, the DC PCSB will discuss our school outcomes and decide whether we should continue to operate for another five years. This is a standard process for every DC charter school, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to share our successes and challenges with the DC PCSB.
You can participate in the hearing, if you’re interested. The DC PCSB gives members of the public 2 minutes to testify about topics of importance for them. For example, if you or your child has found success at Kingsman Academy, you can share that with the DC PCSB. If you’d like to testify about Kingsman Academy on Monday, December 16 and would like help preparing your testimony or getting to the hearing, please let me know.
Be on the lookout for an invitation to celebrate accreditation and (we hope!) the continuation of our charter for another five years!
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Oil pastel drawings from Ms. Richardson's art class
Bridging the Gap
Bridging the Gap
Student and Family Resources
Starting at age 14, students in Kingsman Academy’s special education program work with the D.C. Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to get ready to transition out of high school. RSA representatives come to Kingsman Academy twice a month to work with the students on vocational-technical job skills, life skills, career options, college options, and anything else they may need to be successful and self-sufficient after high school. Desirée Brown, Director of Special Education at Kingsman Academy, explains, “RSA is the organization that will support these students after they leave high school. They start working with the kids now to make sure they’re ready. By the time they graduate, they’re all signed up and plugged into all of the resources available to them. It’s a great partnership between the education system and the employment system.”
RSA also offers special opportunities like post-secondary fairs, summer employment, and spring break employment. Ms. Brown continues, “They develop resumes, practice interview skills, and get professional clothing from the dress for success program. Our students work internships through RSA during high school and several have secured employed with these companies after graduation. RSA does a great job of keeping in touch with the students and supporting them when they need it.”
For more information on student support partnerships with RSA and other transition organizations, please contact Desirée Brown, Director of Special Education, at (202) 547-1028 ext. 225 or email@example.com.
Kingsman Academy in the News
Kingsman Academy students joined Moms Demand Action for Advocacy Day on October 2, 2019. One of our students was interviewed for the local news.
Flag football had great seasons in middle school and high school. The middle school team made it to the league championship game and finished the season 5-2. The high school team had a lot of close games and ended 3-4-1. Coach Brown is proud of how all the players learned to work together and really grew as young men over the season.
Basketball started practice in November and the first official game was December 3rd. We have a middle school team, a high school girls team, and a high school boys team. Speak with Coach Brown in room 110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about joining the team.
We are also looking to have baseball, softball, track, and cross country teams this year. Please let Coach Brown know if you are interested in participating in these sports.
You can find the time and location of all games on the school homepage www.kingsmanacademy.org. Come out and support the Knights!
Key Dates & Information
In October, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools voted to award Kingsman Academy full accreditation for a seven-year period beginning December 1, 2019!
We are accepting donations of food and clothing, especially coats, for families within our school community. Please contact Ms. Foster to donate or to collaborate with Kingsman Academy on a food or clothing drive: email@example.com. If you need food or clothing for your family, please contact Mr. Kemp: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kingsman Academy will be closed December 23 - January 4 for winter break. School will reopen on Monday, January 6.
The first trimester ended on December 4, 2019.
Join Kingsman Academy at EdFEST, D.C.'s annual public school fair! Saturday, December 14, 2019 from 11 AM - 3 PM at the DC Armory – 2001 East Capitol St. SE. For more info, visit www.myschooldc.org/events/edfest
We are looking for parents to represent the school during our 5-year review meeting on December 16. If you are interested in contributing to the school community at this meeting, please contact Executive Director Shannon Hodge at email@example.com or (202) 544-1410.
Basketball season has begun! If you would like to join one of the basketball teams, please contact Athletic Director Wiley Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or in room 110 at the school.
Learn more on the school website, new in 2019!
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