Navajo school in Shiprock shows improvement

Posted at: 03/26/2014 5:36 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In a tough neighborhood in Shiprock, there is a bright spot. Surrounded by half-finished homes, and low cost housing is Nizhoni Elementary.

Nizhoni means beautiful in Navajo-- but things weren't always beautiful here.

“There was a big transition, kinda toxic, the morale was down, students weren't performing, we couldn't get things happening,” explains Patsy Marquez, principal of Nizhoni.

Three years ago Marquez took over the school that had an 'F' grade.

“My first year was about changing school culture. Bringing in parents, more parent involvement,” Marques told us.

Parents wanted sports at the school so she added basketball and volleyball for the students. She also formed a council made up of parents and held family dinner nights.

All that worked.

Nizhoni has improved to a 'B' grade.

“When we got the grade this summer.... It was a miracle.  I almost felt like I don’t believe it, I was thinking it was a mistake,” exclaimed the principal.

Hard work by the students, staff and parents-- made that "miracle" happen.

Governor Susana Martinez went to Shiprock today to honor the elementary school's achievement.

“They didn't like being known as an 'F' school,’ She said, ”the resources were put into the school to make sure that they could raise that level to a 'B', now they know that they can fight for that 'A'”

The principal says she couldn't do it alone.

“If we all make a difference together, the children will see that and it’s going to empower our future beyond measure.”