ESSEX — Eastern Technical High School is the top high school in the Baltimore metro area and number 3 school in Maryland, according to a 2021 list of best high schools released by the U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday.
Principal C. Michelle Anderson said that the recognition is a reflection of her students and staff. The school was ranked higher this year than ever before in her six-year tenure, taking the #132 spot nationally.
“It’s a thrill for us,” Anderson told The Avenue. “Especially given the pandemic right now and everything that everyone is going through, it’s nice to have a bit of good news.”
Two Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) high schools are among the top 10 in the state, with Western School of Technology and Environmental Science at number 7 in the state and number 3 in the Baltimore area.
In a prepared statement, BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams said the district appreciates the recognition of the quality of its high schools, 10 of which are among the top 50 in the state. However, he added that there are many ways to measure success.
“We care even more about the experiences our students and families have in our schools,” Williams said. “Paramount for us is that all of our students graduate from all our high schools ready for success in college, careers and life.”
The renowned annual ranking includes data on nearly 24,000 public high schools around the country. Factors considered include college readiness, proficiency and performance in math and reading, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rate. AP course participation and achievement, as well as state math and reading assessment scores, are also considered.
Anderson explained that the award is a holistic recognition of the school’s expectations of excellence among students and staff.
“Our students work really hard to push our teachers, to demand the very best that they have to bring into the classroom,” she said. “That’s the direct result of their determination and their motivation to do well and to succeed.”
The school certainly welcomes rigor, encouraging every student to take at least one AP class, and Anderson said that they want students to get excited about learning and challenge themselves to build up grit and determination.
That said, she emphasized that they underpin an emphasis on academics with a culture of support, collaboration and learning both in and outside the classroom. Staff work to help students feel more comfortable speaking up when they need help, or learn the social and emotional skills that translate to other parts of life.
“We can’t always just focus on academics or we’re gonna lose our kids,” she said. “We have to ensure that we’re being equitable with all student needs, because if they’re not having their needs met, then they’re not going to be able to excel.”
Despite the honor, Anderson said that they don’t self-promote very well — she sent out a school-wide message of congratulations, but the celebration is minimal, particularly given the restrictions of the pandemic. Instead, they keep moving forward.
“For us, it’s confirmation that what we’re doing is working,” she said. “Every time rankings come out, we say, ‘Yay, great job! Alright, what’s next?’”
Anderson, herself a product of BCPS who came to Eastern Tech with a promise to keep the school on a path of excellence, commended the school community for what she called a ‘tandem effort’ to create a top-notch learning environment.
“Our students do not allow us to lay down and take it easy — they really push us to do our very best, and that excites us,” she said. “Our community really has faith that when we push and challenge each other, we can achieve great things.”
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