Association of Wisconsin School Administrators: Names Milwaukee’s Santiago Navarro Wisconsin Secondary School Principal of the Year

MADISON — The Association of Wisconsin School Administrators has named Santiago Navarro as its 2024 Secondary School Principal of the Year.

Navarro is the principal of Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, a prekindergarten through 8th grade charter school operated by the United Community Center in Milwaukee. Navarro has served as middle school principal since 2009, and has worked in some capacity at the same school since starting as a 5th grade teacher in 1996.

As a principal, Navarro emphasizes the important role schools can play in their communities. Primarily serving students from low-income families, BGCS is able to provide wraparound support services for families thanks to its partnership with the United Community Center.

“I am incredibly proud of Mr. Navarro and the impact he has had on our middle school and community here at United Community Center. This award is a testament to his unwavering passion and dedication to his staff and students and I’m excited to be able to celebrate him today,” said Laura Gutierrez, CEO of United Community Center.

Navarro specifically aims to cultivate a second “home” atmosphere, providing students with the resources and support essential for their future success. During his time at BGCS, the school has seen the number of alumni enrolling in college after graduation increase from 3 percent to 60 percent. In addition, 70 percent of students now attend private high schools after completing 8th grade at BGCS, and many receive scholarship support from the United Community Center.

Navarro strives to use data-driven decision-making and carefully cultivated relationships to drive leadership and instruction in the school. He believes combining data analysis with strong relationships is key to helping students succeed.

“On behalf of AWSA, I am thrilled to congratulate Santiago Navarro on being selected as the 2024 Secondary Principal of the Year,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “His unwavering commitment to the school’s community and dedication to student success are truly remarkable. Additionally, his long-standing investment in the school is palpable, as he consistently goes above and beyond to ensure every student receives the support they need to thrive.”

Navarro holds a master’s degree in education from Marquette University and a New Leaders for New Schools certification from National Louis University. He also received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.

Supported by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, the Principal of the Year award recognizes school leaders who have helped drive student learning, foster instructional collaboration, and create safe and positive school environments. Recipients are selected based on their dedication to professional excellence, leadership skills, and service to their communities.

Each year, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators are asked to nominate principals for the award. The recipients are selected by a committee made up of representatives of parents and classroom, school, and district leaders. To learn more about the award, visit