The leader of one of the District of Columbia’s top public high schools was recently honored for being the best in her profession.

On Jan. 24, Anita Berger, principal of the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, was selected the District of Columbia Public School’s “Principal of the Year.” District public school officials surprised her with the announcement of her selection.

Principal Anita Berger’s students posted a 100 percent high school graduation rate over the last for years. (Courtesy Photo)

Principal Anita Berger’s students posted a 100 percent high school graduation rate over the last for years. (Courtesy Photo)

Incoming D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson was at Banneker to get a tour of the school, but he also had a more covert purpose. Unbeknownst to Berger, Wilson was working with D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education Jennifer Niles and Interim D.C. Schools Chancellor John Davis to give her the award after the tour.

When Wilson announced that Berger was selected for the honor in front of 20 students in Mylene Garcia’s Chemistry class, she was visibly flabbergasted.

“I am at a loss for words,” she said stunned. “On this job, I am doing my best and I am doing what I like to do.”

Berger is a product of District educational institutions, starting with McKinley Tech High School and a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University plus another master’s from Georgetown University. She started teaching at Banneker in 1993 as a physical education teacher and was tapped to be the school’s principal in 2005.

Berger was credited with Banneker’s 98 percent PARC test rate in English and Language Arts and 50 percent in math and over 35 percent success in Advance Placement exams. In addition, Banneker has posted a 100 percent high school graduation rate for the past four years and many of the students have graduated with college credit, the AFRO was told by a school public relations officer.

Wilson said Berger’s leadership is one of the main reasons that Banneker is doing so well.

“I have heard so many great things about this high school,” Wilson said to the students and staff in Garcia’s class. “You have a tremendous principal.”

Wilson told the AFRO that before the school tour, he observed the students coming in the building with Berger.

“She told me about every student that came into the building,” he said. “She has an insight on every student at this school. That type of thing happens because you have a great team at work here.”

Wilson also said that it helps that “President Obama has visited here two times.”

While no one disputes Berger’s hard work and dedication, there are some who would say that she presides over an ideal situation. Banneker is a highly selective and has high academic standards.

Berger dismisses criticism that she has “an easy job.”

“The students here are excellent but they don’t come in her ready ,” she told the AFRO. “You have to make sure that they do what they are required to do. That makes what I do twice as hard.”