Niya White is a native of Washington, D.C. Growing up in a strained family setting that always moved, Niya attended six different elementary schools before finding teachers in her fifth and sixth grade years that pushed her to believe she could achieve and amount to something greater. From those inspiring teachers, Niya was encouraged to apply and attend an all-girl, private catholic school where, when she began, she was one of only two African American students out of her class of 76. Niya used the challenges she faced with her family life, and beginning academic career to help guide her to fall in love with education.
In becoming a teacher, Niya found herself making sure that the same love, attention, and drive that her fifth and sixth grade teachers gave her, was what she consistently gave her students every day. Starting her teaching career with a self-contained fourth grade class, Niya’s administrators always saw potential in her that she was unaware of. She received more and more responsibility, and was moved to be a middle school English teacher for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. With all of these shifts, Niya welcomed the opportunity to shape minds, and bring her students opportunities that they may not have otherwise experienced. This dedication prompted discussion of Niya needing to become the principal of a school in need of true transformation in order to keep its doors open for its families.
Niya accepted the task and honor of being the principal of the Congress Heights Campus of Center City Schools, where she transformed her school from a low performing to one of the city’s highest performing schools. Since her tenure, Niya has brought to the Ward 8 school a National Blue Ribbon Award, consecutive awards from EmpowerK12 for being a BOLD Improvement and BOLD Performing School, Five Star and Tier 1 stature, maintaining an over 80% retention rate of families and staff, winning the Fight For Children grant to provide all students with one to one technology, and a Safe Passage Program that serves as the model for all D.C. schools for getting students home safely.
Most of all, with the support of her staff, Niya created a school culture where the students value knowing who they are, how intelligent they are, and that through their character, excellence, and service, they will have options of their high schools, colleges, and careers, instead of ever having to settle. Niya enjoys watching her students learn how to break “the cycle” that many are born into every day, just as she had to do at their age.