Our Leadership Team

Ana Mendoza, Executive Principal
Ana began her career in education in 1980 in El Paso Texas, where she served as a special education and English as a second language teacher for deaf students before becoming an administrator. A single mother of one son, she made the move to Colorado in 2002 in order for him to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder as a resident of Colorado. Since then she has been an administrator in Ft. Lupton, Boulder Valley School District and most recently a principal the last 9 years at the middle and high school level in Brighton School District 27J.
Ana is the youngest of six children and a first generation graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Deaf Education and received her Master of Education and School Leadership from Sul Ross University in Alpine Texas .

Her philosophy has always been that all students, no matter the age or need, require multiple systems of support in order to be successful in school and post-secondary settings. Her own experiences both personal and professional have driven her leadership and passion to inspire her students to achieve that ultimate goal, no matter the challenges life may bring.


Mia Martinez Lopez, Succession Principal
My name is Mia Martinez Lopez and I am excited to meet you! I am a Denver native and I have worked in both the North and West Denver neighborhoods. I live in West Denver with my husband and three children. I taught Social Studies and English in North Denver at Lake Middle School, Skinner Middle School and Denver Arts and Technology Academy. In 2009, I came to West High School as a Student Advisor or “Dean”. I fell in love with West and decided early-on that I would be a Cowboy. This is my fifth year as an Assistant Principal at West Early College. Those that that know me well, know that I am committed to “my kids” here at West. I pride myself on my relationships with the students, parents and staff of West Early College and I am committed to the success of this community. I am a proud West Cowboy!

Rhianna Burroughs, Assistant Principal

My name is Rhianna Burroughs and I am so excited to be a part of the WEC Community! I am a Colorado native and began my career as an educator with the goal of serving the students and families in Denver…the city I love. For the past ten years, I have worked all over the city from the Southwest to the Far Northeast as a teacher at the elementary level and then school leader, most recently as the Assistant Principal at Beach Court Elementary in North Denver. I love working in Denver and am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the WEC team. I believe that the success of any school is based on relationships, and our primary responsibility as educators is to develop relationships with our students to truly know each of them and  their unique needs. This creates a safe and inclusive environment for all students to thrive and achieve his or her greatest potential. 

Outside of school, I am an avid sports fan, love playing basketball and watching the Denver Broncos. I enjoy spending time with my husband and three sons and reading.

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Derek Pike, Assistant Principal

My name is Derek Pike and I am honored to serve the students, families and teachers at WEC as an assistant principal! I am a Colorado native and have worked as a teacher leader in Denver Public Schools for my entire career. I have taught Social Studies, ELA, Intervention, and Science at Abraham Lincoln High School, John F. Kennedy High School, and Lake Middle School.

I am excited to serve the West Denver neighborhoods and be a part of the WEC family. I believe my passion to serve our community, appreciation of the history of social justice movements at West, and the challenges I have overcome as a student and educator, have prepared me to lead the Cowboy community. My personal and professional experiences have shaped my desire to build strong relationships and relentlessly support our students in pursuit of their post-secondary dreams and aspirations. I am honored to serve as a leader at WEC and look forward to working alongside our powerful community.

Outside of school, I am a sneaker and hip-hop head and love to root on all Denver sports teams. I enjoy spending time with my wife, Chessa, and our dog, Milo, on outdoor adventures in the Rocky Mountains.

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Zach McDowell, Assistant Principal – CareercConnect Pathway Director

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Zachary McDowell is an Assistant Principal and CareerConnect Pathway Director at the West High Campus in Denver Public Schools. He has been an employee of DPS for 19 years in roles spanning classroom teacher to middle school principal. As a member of the Ritchie Program for School Leaders, Zachary researched and implemented high-leverage leadership practices which became the cornerstone for his leadership. Most recently, Zachary has worked to enroll and support high school students into the CareerResidency Youth Apprentice Program. This is his fourth year supporting students at West Early College and over 300 students have engaged in programming through his team. Becoming a “Cowboy” and supporting “The Movement” at WEC has been a career highlight. He enjoys engaging in collaborative discussions around innovations in education and dreams big for all of the students he supports.