New admin adjust to SPA culture


SPA SmugMug

ENGAGEMENT. Tepp, along with other administration members, has shown curiosity and interest in student culture.

As the school year begins, SPA students have encountered an unexpected but pleasant surprise as they arrive to school. US Principal Ken Jaffe and Dean of Students Stacy Tepp greet students at the Huss entrance every morning. Jaffe and Tepp can also be seen chatting with students on their way to class, and finding them in the stands at sporting events. In just a short time, Jaffe and Tepp have already become familiar faces around SPA.
Three months ago, freshly retired Jaffe was enjoying life in his home outside of Seattle, when he received a phone call from Head of School, Luis Ottley. He was informed that SPA needed a new principal and decided to come for a visit. It was meeting the kids and faculty that day, as well as SPA’s search of community and visibility that drew him in to the school. From the start, Jaffe felt warmly welcomed by students.
“They are bright, capable, inquisitive, thoughtful students,” he said. He’s appreciative of the existing culture, and hopes to mirror it. Jaffe describes himself as a relatable person: “My favorite thing is interacting, particularly with the students,” he said, “I like to be able to joke and have fun.” He recognizes that people are further apart due to COVID, and hopes to build back community. Jaffe is grateful “for the way that the faculty, staff, and students have welcomed [him] to the school.”

Q&A with Dean Tepp

Q: “What initially drew you to SPA?”
A: “I was at Breck prior to this and so we have grade level deans. So there’s a dean for every grade.” Tepp explained, “One [reason] was that this position, dean of students, is just broader. I love supporting students and things like clubs and councils and like culture and community.”
Q: “What aspects of SPA culture do you appreciate?”
A: “I still feel like I’m observing and learning. And I haven’t figured out everything. But so far, I’ve been so impressed with how invested all the students and the faculty are in this place. Like, emotionally, physically. It’s clearly really an important place,” Tepp said. Adding, “And how respectful and honest and curious and inquisitive everyone’s been the questions that people ask how students like as I’m walking through the hallways, just watching how students approach different things.”
Q: “Are there any aspects [of SPA culture] that you hope might develop?”
A: “As I’ve been observing, I’ve had questions about things and so that’s where my like question about dress code came about, just like seeing the disconnect between like what’s on paper and once lived, and I also have questions about like, you know, hanging up signs, if we’re really trying to promote a culture of belonging and trust and respect our do our policies like match that? And so I’ve been asking our USC presidents lots of questions. I feel like I’ve I’m still in the process, but there’s like conversations. I kind of want to start just to get a better picture of like, what’s the purpose of this? How is it lived out? How do you experience it as a student?” Tepp said, “I want to make sure that the things that we have written down are actually supportive of what we say our mission and what we want to do for our community like those are aligned,” adding, “I’m hoping just to like start some of those conversations.”