Seeing Forever E-Vite

Maya Angelou Academy Featured in Education Week

Dear Friends,

Recently, Education Week ran an article about the Maya Angelou Academy, the school See Forever manages within the District’s long-term juvenile correctional facility. The story highlights the Maya Angelou Academy as a model program for educating incarcerated youth, and also discusses the need to improve schools in youth correctional facilities.

We are pleased to share below a reproduction of the Education Week article and to invite you to join See Forever's co-founder, David Domenici, for an online discussion:

Schooling for Incarcerated Youth: The Link Between Education and Rehabilitation
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. EST

David Domenici, principal, Maya Angelou Academy at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, in Laurel, Md.

Laura Abrams, associate professor of social welfare at the School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Christina Samuels, staff writer for Education Week, will moderate this chat.

To sign-up to receive an e-Reminder about this event visit:

School Offers Model Lessons for D.C.'s Jailed Youths
By Mary Ann Zehr
Laurel, Md.
Thursday, November 4, 2010; Education Week, Volume 30, Issue 11

It’s not easy to keep youths on task for learning in a youth prison, but David Domenici, the principal of the Maya Angelou Academy, a charter-like school here serving incarcerated juveniles, is trying to do it while at the same time creating a model program for improving educational services for young offenders.

Located at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a lockup facility housing young men convicted of crimes in the District of Columbia, Maya Angelou is one of a small number of schools run by charter school operators targeting incarcerated youths. As of late last month, the academy was educating 60 to 70 teenagers, ages 14 to 19, who were serving time for crimes ranging from unauthorized use of a vehicle, to armed robbery, to manslaughter. A few stay as little as five days; others may be incarcerated for a year. Yet, in the short time they’re here, Mr. Domenici hopes to give each of them the best education possible and also likely the best education they’ve ever had. “The good news,” he said, is here “you have a teacher who likes you and supports you, and kids don’t make fun of you if you can’t read.”

In a pocket of the education field that many agree has been largely ignored, Maya Angelou Academy so far seems to be succeeding in that mission, by most accounts. “The school is designed to be an integral part of the overall program in a way that helps youths turn their lives around,” said Robert Schwartz, the executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia-based child-advocacy group. Likewise, Cramer Brooks, a court consultant tasked with evaluating the school found it to be “one of the best programs in a confinement facility” she had ever seen.

A ‘Transformation’

The See Forever Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates three charter schools in the District of Columbia, won the contract to provide education services to incarcerated youths more than three years ago from Washington’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

Mr. Domenici, 46, a lawyer and a son of former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., initially co-established the See Forever Foundation with fellow lawyer James Forman Jr. in order to run a school for youths who had been arrested in the District of Columbia. The small program grew over time, though, into three charter schools serving a broad range of students.

Before the foundation took over the job of educating youths at the lock up facility, those services were managed by the District of Columbia public school system. At that time, the facility was known as Oak Hill and was housed in decrepit buildings here in Laurel, 20 miles north of the nation’s capital. Problems at the former Oak Hill facility led to an ongoing consent decree from the District of Columbia Superior Court to improve services, including education, for Washington’s juvenile delinquents, said Barry Holman, the deputy director for the youth-rehabilitation department. The school was plagued with “major classroom disruptions and violence,” he said. “Our analysis was that the educational program was so dysfunctional that it could not be fixed without being completely replaced.”

By this past summer, a court monitoring report credited the school with having undergone “a remarkable transformation” from the old school.

To see this article in its entirety visit our web site:

SFF logo Seeing Forever e-Vite: November 22, 2010
See Forever Foundation/Maya Angelou Schools
1436 U St., N.W., Ste. 203 Wash., D.C. 20009 | (202) 797-8250 | (202) 797-8284

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