• Urban Educator logo

Two Urban Principals Honored Nationally

  • Mayra Cruz is one of the youngest principals in the District of Columbia Public Schools. She was only 26 when she was named principal of Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, one of the oldest bilingual schools in the nation. Cruz has served seven years as principal of the school, which has an enrollment of 742 students and where students learn 50 percent of their academic content in English and 50 percent in Spanish. Mayra Cruz

    A daughter of immigrant parents and a product of bilingual school programming, she uses her personal connection to help her students see differences as a way to build a bridge, not a wall.

    Cruz is one of two big-city school leaders who recently received the 2020 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership from the U.S. Department of Education. The award was given to 10 principals across the country for their outstanding work and the vital role they played in guiding students and school to excellence. Corrine Morris Saenz  

    Also receiving the award was Corrine Morris Saenz, who has served as principal since 2016 at Reilly Elementary School in Austin, Texas. Students at the school are predominately native Spanish-speakers, so Saenz flipped the existing instructional design at Reilly and implemented a school-wide two-way dual language Spanish/English and Mandarin/English program. Saenz, along with school staff, also raised more than $20,000 to purchase grocery gift cards for families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Christina Small A special lifetime of leadership award was presented to Christina Small, principal of King Liholiho Elementary School in Honolulu, where she has served as an educator for nearly 50 years. 

    All of the winning principals were from schools that received a 2020 National Blue Ribbon Award.