Surprise! ECHS Principal a State Finalist

ECHS Principal Kathleen Burke named finalist
By: Todd Martin
Killeen ISD Early College High School Principal Kathleen Burke is a finalist for HEB’s secondary principal of the year in the state of Texas.
In a large meeting room on the Central Texas College campus Monday, Burke entered to a chorus of “surprise,” with banners, balloons, her own family members, school district and college administrators and a crowd of cheering students.
Almost immediately after the surprise reveal, including a $1,000 personal prize and $2,500 for the school, the principal turned to her immediate right to defer the praise to the high school students she serves.
The Early College High School is a partnership between KISD and CTC and allows high school students to earn an associate’s degree concurrently with their diploma. The school is in its fifth year.
Superintendent John Craft said Burke’s leadership has been instrumental in the program’s success. It has garnered state and national praise.
All the accolades, including Monday’s, which places Burke in the top five principals in the state in HEB’s long-respected award program is reflection of students’ hard work and school, district, college and parent support, the surprised principal said.
Juniors Tyron Jones and Robyn Wilson were among the students holding a congratulations banner and cheering on their popular principal.
“She is different than most principals,” Wilson said. “She cares about our academics, but she also asks about us personally. She knows all our names. She’s really different.”
“I’m super-excited for the district and for these scholars,” Burke said. “They keep working hard and every decision we make is about them.”
“She’s an excellent principal,” said Jones. “She makes a point to interact with students and she knows our names. She has a keen focus on our classwork, but she also cares about our lives and our families.”
Craft praised Burke’s “servant leadership” style and said she places students at the forefront of campus decisions.
“She always says it’s a student-led school,” said Wilson, the junior class president. “We can write proposals and present them and she tries to make it happen.”
A year ago, Educate Texas named the Early College High School a model College and Career Readiness School in Texas.
At that time, more than 99 percent of seniors met state standards to take college courses. On 2018 STAAR testing, 100 percent passed math and social studies, 99 percent passed science and 95 percent passed reading.
On the PSAT test, freshman test 55 points above the state, sophomores 81 points above the state and juniors 49 points above the state.