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graduate standing in front of Early College High School


graduate standing in front of Early College High School

The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence (BRSE) recently named Early College High School (ECHS) as a 2023 Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School. 

“Being recognized as a Lighthouse School is a great honor. Our amazing students and educators continually show their passion for learning and personal growth, as well as tenacity and resilience. This is a testament to their success,” said Principal Dr. David Martinez.

This recognition was due to ECHS’s commitment to a positive school improvement process that includes:

  • Student focus and support, 

  • School organization and culture,

  • Challenging standards and curriculum, 

  • Active teaching and learning,

  • Technology integration,

  • Professional community, 

  • Leadership and education vitality, 

  • School, family and community partnerships, and

  • Indicators of success.  

The BRSE assessor noted ECHS scored the highest in the areas of leadership and education vitality, student focus and support, and technology integration. ECHS was also commended for its dedicated, hard-working teachers and staff, who are well-resourced in AVID-based instructional approaches. This leads to supportive classroom environments that foster collaboration. 

“The application is optional, but we took the initiative starting over a year ago to use this process as a tool to improve. Our staff doesn’t want to stay stagnant, and the self-examination and outside analysis were valuable in our quest for continuing excellence,” Dr. Martinez said.   

With an average classroom size of 20 students, there’s a strong sense of community across staff, students and families, which is evident in a positive school culture that has twice earned the school statewide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports platinum recognition.

Since 2003, BRSE has recognized schools for their commitment to continuing achievement. ECHS is one of 60 schools being recognized nationwide, the only one in California this year. 

The school is also the first in Newport-Mesa Unified School District to achieve the honor. The months-long process included an assessment by BRSE senior assessor and 2015 NASSP National Principal of the Year Jayne Ellspermann, who looked at data compiled from surveys completed by families, students and staff, as well as conducted focus groups with those same groups. Ellspermann also met with ECHS Principal Dr. David Martinez to discuss the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.

As a Lighthouse School, ECHS commits to sharing expertise and exemplary practices with other schools on a local, regional and national level, as well as providing mentoring and networking to schools seeking guidance and assistance in improvement initiatives. This will begin in the 2023-24 school year.

ECHS offers an educational program strategically designed to fulfill and exceed University of California A-G admission requirements. Through a partnership with Coastline College, the majority of the school’s students graduate with an associates degree or better, and acceptance at a four-year university.  

Dr. Judy Warden Fields, CEO of BRSE, applauds Early College High School for its commitment to school excellence and continuous improvement. “Dr. Martinez articulates a vision of excellence for all students and the entire school community at Early College High School,” she said. 

Dr. Martinez will represent Early College at the Lighthouse School Awards Program in Orlando, Florida, on December 1, 2023.