PULLMAN — Stacey C. Locke, principal of Yakima’s Eisenhower High School and a student in the WSU educational leadership doctorate degree program, was among three finalists in the 2009 National High School Principal of the Year award.

Locke was recognized for having transformed a crowded school where students and staff struggled to connect into a vibrant learning environment where everyone shares a common vision. She was earlier named Washington State Principal of the Year in the competition, sponsored by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). She earned a school superintendent credential from WSU in 2007.

Now in her fifth year as principal, Locke has led a number of initiatives to personalize the education of the 2,000 students in her care.

At Eisenhower, every student is identified as a “culture of one” because every student has a place and an opportunity to contribute and learn. The Cadet Academy starts with a three-day program for incoming freshman. This orientation program connects students and their parents to their Cadet Connections group—a grade-level cohort of students who stay together with the same advisor for four years—and orients them toward success.

The interdisciplinary pods (I-POD) program identifies incoming freshmen who are at greatest risk for failure. These students are blocked for math, science, and English and taught by teachers who design lessons that integrate relationship building and trust with effective instructional strategies. Students may continue in the I-POD program through their sophomore year if they continue to need extra support.

The results of Locke and her staff’s work have been phenomenal, according to NASSP. Gang activity has dropped significantly, as have the number of out of school suspensions. Eisenhower’s on-time graduation rate has increased from 68 percent to 88 percent and the extended-time graduation rate is 97 percent.

The winner of the competition was Mark Wilson of Madison, Georgia.