Our Leadership Team

Mia Martinez Lopez, Principal

My name is Mia Martinez Lopez and I am a proud West Cowboy. I am a Denver native and I have 

worked in both the North and West Denver neighborhoods. I have lived in the Westside of Denver since 2006 with my husband and I have raised three children. I have worked in Denver Public Schools since 2001 as a guest teacher, middle school teacher, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and Principal.  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.  I had the fortune of working for the traditional West High School as well as be a founding administrator for West Early College.  

Those that know me understand that I am committed to “my kids” here at West. I pride myself on my relationships with the students, families and staff of West Early College and I am committed to the success of the West community.  I was taught by my family and community to love and work hard for your people and not be afraid to fight for what is right so that we may all share in collective achievement and advancement.

I am honored to be the principal of West Early College and I welcome you to our family where we love and challenge each other every day.  We work hard to provide a safe, caring learning environment for students and staff so that they are able to meet the challenges of college and career.  We are #wecthemovement and our movement is together.

¡Sí Se Puede!

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.

Zach McDowell, Assistant Principal – CareerConnect Pathway Director

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.

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, ELD, 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 who loves 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.