Hughes to leave SPA after 10 years

Upper School Principal Chris Hughes announced this past Thursday that this will be his last year at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. Hughes has been principal for 10 years and has helped facilitate numerous changes throughout the school including the construction Huss Center for the Performing Arts, the schedule switch to staggered rotating block, and the current Shilling Center construction and US remodel.

Students and teachers reflect on the vision that Hughes brought to SPA as well as the care and compassion that he brings to his job every day.

“He helped me personally transition from college to high school teaching and gave me the opportunity to see students in a lot of co-curricular activities to get a better sense of who they are and what life at SPA is like. The students were, without a doubt, always his first priority,” US history teacher Aaron Shulow said.

Whether to a ninth-grader, senior or faculty member, Hughes was known for talking to students that he saw in the hallway and smiling even early on a Monday morning which can be rare for a high school principal.

“He took time to get to know us all personally, and he cared about his job so much and that was evident in the way he pushed you even if he didn’t know you. One time I was trying to switch my classes to take both Writing Sem and Classics in Society and he told them that he knew I could do it but it is extremely difficult with a lot of writing. Little things like that showed he cared about us,” senior Isabel Brandtjen said.

The students were, without a doubt, always his first priority.

— Aaron Shulow

Hughes took the lead on implementing the US schedule change from an eight period day.

“I was most impressed by how he changed the schedule in a non disruptive way that was best for the students and will miss his vision for the right direction and where we are going next,” US Technology coordinator Chris White said. 

Longstanding faculty have commended how Hughes followed through on the school’s vision and always had time to talk to anyone that stopped in.

“His door was always open and it was extremely easy to talk to him: I walk in, we talk. He is extremely organized and understands just about everything about the school,” Math Department Chair Bill Boulger said.

Hughes always had time to talk to students and teachers about problems that they were facing even if they were small schedule changes.

“The main interaction that I always have with Mr. Hughes is that whenever schedules come out I immediately email him to change my schedule and I was always impressed with how quickly he would respond and how much he cared,” senior Adnan Askari said. 

Hughes will, in a way, be returning back to the place that he started his teaching career, at an all girls boarding school on the east coast where he’ll be serving as the Head of School. Hughes will leave SPA at the end of the school year.