Thalia Brownridge-Smith is an accomplished and relentless educational leader with substantial operational, program development, and instructional coaching experience. She is honored to return to the West Ward of Newark, where she was born and raised, to serve as the Principal of Thirteenth Avenue School, “The Pride of Newark.”
Principal Brownridge-Smith is a proud Newark native who lived in Georgia King Village for over 15 years and graduated as the Valedictorian of her eighth-grade class at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. She earned a scholarship worth over $200,000 to attend a boarding high school, The Peddie School. She graduated from The Peddie School as a student-athlete with eight varsity letters, membership in the Cum Laude Honor Society, and a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. After completing her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, with a double minor in African-American Studies and Anthropology, Thalia Brownride-Smith matriculated into the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She was one of two recipients of the Puente Forchic Scholarship, so her tuition, fees, books, housing, and meal plan were fully funded. In exchange, she committed to teaching in Philadelphia for two years, but she always knew that she would return home to serve the children of Newark.
After graduating with her first Master's degree in Education, Thalia Brownridge-Smith began her career as a teacher at an all-boys, public Middle/High School in North Philadelphia. She was also a coach and co-founder of the lacrosse program in the School District of Philadelphia. Once she fulfilled her two-year teaching obligation, she returned home to teach Middle School Mathematics at Miller Street School. During this time, she served as a Teacher Leader, Summer Math Coach, Curriculum Writer, member of the Mathematics Curriculum Selection Committee, and Track Coach. She also earned a total of four merit-based, “Highly Effective” bonuses and completed the New Leaders: Emerging Leaders Program.
Thalia Brownridge-Smith decided to continue her pursuit of educational leadership by completing her Administrative Internship at North Star Academy (West Side Middle School) as she attended Teachers College, Columbia University. After earning her second Master's degree and Principal Certification, she returned to the Newark Board of Education as a Vice Principal at Louise A. Spencer School, where she lead the Middle School Team and Mathematics Department. As a Vice Principal, she played an integral role in recruiting, hiring, coaching, and retaining talented educators who were committed to maximizing their impact on each student’s academic, social, and emotional success.
Now, as Principal Brownridge-Smith prepares for a successful school year, she is grateful that the Thirteenth Avenue School community has extended a warm welcome. She is committed to ensuring that each child meets their academic goals, and she is looking forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to actualize the school's mission and vision. Principal Brownridge-Smith is excited to share this journey with her husband and two sons, and she is thankful for the opportunity to return to her community as the new Leader of “The Pride of Newark."