By Julie Meyer Taylor
When describing the population of her campus, Principal Tami Strege, recalled the time she found herself sitting at a table in the English Language Learner (ELL) classroom with two students who spoke Arabic, one who spoke Swahili, and one who spoke Nepali. Washington High School hosts a diverse population of students: 19 different languages are represented, and of the 1700+ students who attend, 81% are minorities.
Ms. Strege has been the principal at Washington High School (WHS) for more than three years, and has worked in the district for 24 years. She is extremely proud of her staff and students, and was thankful for the opportunity to brag about them.
WHS has 50 different after-school clubs and activities in which students can be involved. One club is the Interact Club, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club and focuses on community service. Approximately 300 kids are involved. The club’s activities have included reading to children in homeless shelters, helping in food kitchens, and picking up trash in various settings. Recently, the club visited the residents of the Beatitudes Campus and taught them how to use Facebook.
Ms. Strege says her staff is “completely invested” and described how she kindly scolds teachers when she finds them in their desks past 5:30. In addition to teaching academics, the teachers at WHS aim to provide students with emotional support and life planning skills which some students may not receive in their home environments.
The dedication of Ms. Strege and her staff is paying off. Washington High School is an A+ School of Excellence, as deemed by the Arizona Educational Foundation. Based on statistics of previous years, it is predicted that 85-90 percent of all WHS freshman will complete their high school education and graduate. WHS and its students have received many scholarships and awards of excellence. WHS has also received recognition from Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report as being one of the top high schools in Arizona.
“We are dreaming bigger than the kids dream for themselves,” said Ms. Strege. Their strategy appears to be working.