e3 Civic High School

Dr. Helen V. Griffith » Executive Director / Chief Executive Officer

Executive Director / Chief Executive Officer

Named an Educational Pioneer by San Diego Magazine (2013), Dr. Griffith’s career in education spans nearly 25 years. During this time she has specialized in new school start-up & redesign, school transformation, leadership development, and educational entrepreneurship. In 2007, she was appointed as one of the administrators of the newly constructed Lincoln High School, joining a team tasked with opening four small schools on one campus. Her experience also includes serving as lead teacher, facilitator, and later, the first dean of students of a new small school on the Crawford High school complex. In 2008, Dr. Griffith was appointed to open Millennial Tech Middle School as the founding principal. During her leadership tenure through 2012, this STEM school was designated a high performing middle school, achieving a 40-point growth in student achievement gains in the 2010-2011 academic year.


After a nationwide search, in August 2012, Dr. Griffith was selected to open and serve as the first CEO and Executive Director of еʒ Civic High, an innovative school inside the newly constructed, $185 million-dollar, San Diego Public Library. “Dr. Griffith is an excellent educator and administrator who brings great experience, academic insight and energy to Downtown Charter High (now called e3 Civic High),” said Bill Kowba, former superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District. “This new school is an innovative educational partnership and under her leadership, will be a rewarding endeavor for everyone involved — particularly the students.”  During the planning year, Dr. Griffith secured a $750,000 Launch Grant with Next Gen Learning Challenges (NGLC) funded by the Gates, Broad, Dell, and Hewlett Foundations to fund innovative and research-based practices for this new school.  After a successful opening in September, 2013, three years later, CNN Money announced e3 Civic High as one of the top 41 most innovative K-12 schools in America and since that time, the school achieved a 100% graduation rate for their first two cohorts. Further, in 2016, e3 Civic High was featured in a 52-minute documentary, Destination Education, by a Brazilian network as one of the world’s 12 most innovative schools. In 2017,  Dr. Griffith’s work was highlighted by KVIE, a northern California Public Broadcasting affiliate in their documentary series,  Inside California Education.  

Along with being featured in several publications, Dr. Griffith has earned numerous professional honors for her work in education. She was awarded the Educator of the Year award in 2010 from the California League of Middle Schools — Region 9; the 2010 Outstanding Educator of the Year award from Lambda Kappa Mu; Phi Delta Kappa’s 2007 award for Outstanding African-American Educator of the Year; and the 2013 Excellence in Education award from the San Diego Monitor News. In addition, Dr. Griffith was selected as one of San Diego’s 50 People to Watch in 2013 by the San Diego Magazine. Most recently, Dr. Griffith received the Outstanding Alumni Award for Diversity and Inclusion from San Diego State University and the Outstanding Alumni Award from UC San Diego’s Black Student Association. In May of 2016 she was invited by Congresswoman Susan Davis to Washington, DC to participate in the National Summit on Teacher Diversity sponsored by the United States Department of Education.  In 2017, Dr. Griffith was honored by RISE San Diego with the Inclusive Leadership in Action Award and in 2018 she received the Educator of the Year from the Uniting the Community Awards Celebration. To date, Dr. Griffith is the first and only African-American female in San Diego to have opened three new schools.


The mission and vision of e³ Civic High is to prepare scholars for college, workforce, and life.  Our unique learning experience provides a relevant, meaningful college and career preparatory education focused on a broad spectrum of 21st century literacy, the Common Core standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.  Through Project-Based Learning founded in Design Thinking,  a STEAM integrated curriculum, our students will be engaged to explore the Human Condition throughout each discipline.  We believe their educational experience will allow them to determine a plethora of new possibilities that will improve the world around them.  


As a Strengths Learning Community, Gallup has identified Dr. Griffith's top five Strengths as:  Achiever, Learner, Connectivity, Positivity, and Individualization.  She leads with these strengths and engages each member of the e3 community to thrive in their areas of giftedness.


Having earned a Doctorate degree from San Diego State University in Educational Leadership, a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, and the Administrative Services Credential from the same institution with honors, Dr. Griffith also holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego.  Her driving mission is to give her life in service to all mankind.

“I remain honored and excited to lead this new venture in education.  We will continue to maintain and cultivate a faculty and staff of talented, committed educators, who will in turn empower our scholars and parents to accomplish greatness” said Dr. Griffith. “Together, since our opening, we have made e³ Civic High a successful and special place for learning, friendship, mastery, competence, and a powerful exchange of ideas and support. Our core principles of personalized learning, engaging curriculum and high standards for all are proving to be invaluable preparation for our scholars.”