One of the first people you’ll meet at Eastlake High School is our fearless leader, Cassandra “CJ” Berry, affectionately known as Ms. CJ. While Ms. CJ has worn many hats at EHS, from science teacher to Director of Curriculum & Instruction, she may be best known as our caring and dedicated principal since 2020. A little known fact about Ms. CJ is that she actually named our school! Read on to find out more about our dynamic leader, including why she actually looks forward to jury duty and what keeps her joyfully showing up for our students everyday.
When did you know you wanted to be an educator?
Strangely enough, I knew since age 10 that I wanted to be a teacher – I just fought the idea! My most prized gift as a child was a chalkboard in my bedroom where I played “School” with my teddy bears! By high school, my love of science took over and I decided to be Pre-Med in college. After two years of being a neurology major and Pre-Med, I realized that it was just not for me. During the summer between my sophomore & junior year in college I had the opportunity to teach science with AmeriCorps in Denver. During that summer one of my students created and delivered a rap about why they loved science to Hilary Clinton since she and her husband (then-President Clinton) were in Denver for the Environmental Summit. I was hooked! The light in the kid’s eyes! Their passion! I was so honored to have been a part of sparking their love of science. Since then, I could never see myself doing anything but education in one way or another!
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Gene Blair – IB History teacher at Lincoln College Prep Academy in Kansas City, MO. This was the first teacher I ever had that connected historical events to current affairs. He got us to discuss how history connected to what we do and see in our lives. He was the first teacher to get me to think critically about everything and think about civic duties. Because of him, I look forward to jury duty!
How does Eastlake's mission and vision align with your personal values?
I believe that the mission of Eastlake is the only way we should provide education to all students! We learned very quickly during the school closures due to COVID that students not only need, but crave, flexible scheduling, individualized learning plans, and behavioral support. I have always believed that all students can overcome the obstacles of their lives if provided the right support. I love being a part of the support that students have to help them through this portion of their journey.
What do you love most about your role?
I love being able to support teachers in all they do. I also love seeing students grow. From their first day as apprehensive students – not sure about us – to a confident and successful graduate celebrating the end of this portion of their journey and the beginning of their next steps!
What else would you like us to know about you?
I am the proud wife of a ten-year Army veteran! I am also honored to be the mother of four amazing kiddos! I have obtained two Master’s in Education and a certificate from Harvard! I am excited to begin my journey toward my Ph.D. in the next year! And I can’t wait to see the amazing things we are going to do at Eastlake this next school year!
About Eastlake High School
Eastlake High School is an alternative, tuition-free public high school launched in 2004 as an answer to the growing number of students seeking options on the path to a diploma. Our highly qualified staff meets students where they are, with flexible scheduling and custom-built academic programs. Community, personalized learning and unwavering support are the heart of our mission. Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, we enroll 9th-12th grade students year-round. Join us–We’re different on purpose.