Alumna Named HISD Principal of the Year
Houston Independent School District awarded Amy Poerschke ’14, 2019 Elementary School Principal of the Year. Poerschke, principal of Durham Elementary School, graduated from UST’s Master of Education program.
After completing her two years of Teach for America, Poerschke learned of UST’s partnership with the nonprofit organization: TFA alumni received reduced tuition at UST.
“I knew that in order to create a system-level impact like a school leader, I would need to have a Masters in Educational Leadership,” Poerschke said. “As much as I love curriculum and instruction, I knew that to make change, you do need that administrative certificate. So, I chose to get my Masters.”
Growing While Learning
While teaching and working in a specialist position at Garcia Elementary School, Poerschke pursued her M.Ed. The internship hours required of the M.Ed. gave her opportunities to broaden her skillset by participating in practical, real-world experiences common for administrators. For example, she sat in on a district-level school board meeting and she observed her principal manage a budget.
“I was a teacher and then a specialist, so I didn’t really have any business looking through budgets, but it helped me get out of my comfort zone and learn more about the principalship,” she said. “By the end of it, I was an assistant principal, but my principal was letting me mostly manage my budgets.”
Additionally, Poerschke credits her strong writing skills to the program at UST. Through her courses, she analyzed up-to-date research and learned to synthesize a vast range of information into her own findings. Above all, she learned how to develop and express her own voice through research-based writing.
“I really think that, because of the small class sizes and the high-quality professors, I was able to get a lot of really individualized feedback about my writing,” she said. “That set me up for success not only to be a principal, but to go into a doctoral program. I was able to write a dissertation because of the foundational skills from UST.”
Applying Studies to the Real World
After graduating from UST, Poerschke went on to earn her doctorate from the University of Houston. Now she is in her fourth year at Durham. In March, the students, faculty, staff and HISD superintendent surprised her in the cafeteria of her school, where they bestowed her with the award.
“There are so many just hardworking, inspirational and very impactful principals, so it’s very humbling when you hear that you’re doing that great of a job and it really just speaks to the level of the staff,” Poerschke said. “I think my staff is amazing. They work really hard and our kids are great, so I think it’s just a celebration of Durham as a whole. Not just me, but the whole community.”
Story by Katie Fleming