It was a top secret mission Wednesday morning as special guests slipped in through the Durham Elementary School kitchen and staff worked to keep the more than 600 students quiet in the auditorium.
They did not want to spoil the surprise for principal Amy Poerschke, who would soon find out she had been named Houston ISD’s elementary school principal of the year.
Embraced by HISD interim superintendent Grenita Lathan, Poerschke made her way through students and staff as members of the Waltrip High School band played. Looking out at the staff and students, Lathan called the crowd “everyone’s America” and praised Poerschke for the way she valued diversity at the school.
“I believe in all students and all teachers,” Poerschke said. “I believe we can do it if we stay focused on teaching and learning.”
Nominated by Jorge Arredondo, who is the area superintendent for HISD’s northwest area, Poerschke was selected from the other six regional nominations for the honor.
“This is already a high-performing school, but (Poerschke) is not resting on her laurels,” Lathan said.
Poerschke previously served as assistant principal of Garcia Elementary. Prior to that, she taught primary school in London, England, as well as reading language arts in HISD at Garcia and Dodson Elementary. At Garcia, she was awarded the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award and named Garcia Elementary Teacher of the Year.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Baylor University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Poerschke served two years as a Teach for America Corps member to teach in a traditionally underserved area of the country as well as to learn how non-traditional teacher preparation programs were preparing and supporting new teachers.
Poerschke most recently received her doctoral degree in professional leadership from the University of Houston.