Northwest Early College High School has been recognized this year as a Blue Ribbon school, one of the best high schools in the country, according to the Department of Education.
Its principal, Tracy Speaker-Gerstheimer, was also recognized as one of the eleven best principals throughout the entire country.
Awarded the Terrel H. Bell award for Outstanding school leadership, Speaker-Gerstheimer will represent Northwest Early College in Washington DC this November.
So we asked: how does one of the smallest schools in the borderland work to be one of the best in the nation?
“When you give them the support, and show them what they’re capable of, you open up a whole new world of opportunities,” Gerstheimer said.
Speaker-Gerstheimer leads Northwest Early College High School in Canutillo, one of the smallest schools in the borderland and one that partners with EPCC to graduate its students with two years of college finished. Northwest receiving a Blue Ribbon award, and Speaker-Gerstheimer earning the Bell Leadership award are, in part, thanks to the school’s size, she said.
“Knowing students and being able to have a relationship with students, to encourage them is very motivating, and I feel is one of the reasons our school is very successful,” she explained.
Those close relationships are one of the factors motivating this principal. Her job, she says, consists of smoothing the path for teachers to educate their students.
“A lot of what I do is talking to teachers about what they do, and trying to remove obstacles so their job is easier,” she said.
And listening to students, taking their opinions into account when improving the school.
“Their preferences weighed more than the faculty preferences because that is the population that we’re trying to serve. The adults need to provide what the students need,” Speaker-Gerstheimer said.
For now Speaker-Gerstheimer sees no path for Northwest but to go forward, helping students.