The Early College at Guilford (ECG) was named the #1 public high school in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Nearly 25,000 schools were considered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and roughly 18,000 were eventually ranked.
The top-ranked schools are those where students exceed outcome expectations in math, science, and reading state test scores. They’re also judged by graduation rates and the proportion of students earning qualifying marks on International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement exams.
ECG Principal Pete Kashubara has led multiple schools. He says the formula for success is simple: a shared vision for excellence.
"It’s not just our teachers," he says. "It’s not just our full staff. It’s not just our students, but it’s also the parents and our alumni as well — that commitment to always consistently ask, ‘What more can we do? What more can we try?’ And our students are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones and explore new ideas, new thoughts, new concepts. It’s like, ‘What is next? What is on the horizon? What can we do to try to humble ourselves and try to keep getting better?'"
The Early College at Guilford, with its enrollment of 197 9th-12th graders, scored a perfect 100 on College Readiness, with a 100% graduation rate. The school also ranked ninth in the nation for best science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM high schools.
Kashubara acknowledges that it’s a particularly challenging time with many naysayers across the country critical of public school educators. But he says for him and his staff, this is a calling.
"It’s part of our purpose and I think that when you look around this county or across this nation, you have dedicated teachers who are not in it for the numbers," says Kashubara. "A number one ranking is great for anybody, but this is their life’s work. This is what they’ve dedicated themselves to and I think we are in a good position to continue to highlight the positives that are going on in education. So, it’s just the next step for us to kind of continue to push that message forward."
Kashubara says he sees a positive story emerging not just at ECG but across the school district. He credits the Guilford County Schools leadership including Superintendent Whitney Oakley for what he calls the "passion and energy" they bring to their work.