Torrey Pines Elementary School welcomes new principal, Keith Keiper

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The new principal of Torrey Pines Elementary School, Keith Keiper, has a long-standing philosophy on education: “As educators, we do what is best for the children. »

He will bring that mantra to his new position at La Jolla, which he started before the start of the new school year on Monday, August 29.

“We have an obligation to children to provide them with the best possible education,” he said. “This includes meaningful academics, connecting education to the world around us. When you raise the bar for children…it builds their critical thinking and compels them to ask questions. It’s about providing educational opportunities beyond turning the pages and one plus one equals two.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, “it has become more evident that we need to focus on social-emotional learning,” Keiper added. “As educators, we draw on our own experiences and the experiences we’ve given our children because that’s what we know. But the pandemic has brought to light the different levels of support children enjoy. Each child has different access to socio-emotional support.

“It’s really important that we give children the opportunity to develop empathy, self-awareness and compassion. When a child learns what it’s like to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, it can change the world.

The father of three comes to Torrey Pines from the City of San Bernardino Unified School District. He is in his 25th year of studies, 13 of which as a teacher. Between his hometown of New York and Southern California, Keiper taught all but fifth grade, kindergarten through eighth. Most of that time he was teaching third and fourth grades, as well as American history in some of the older grades.

Over the years, it has developed programs on the “specialized side” of education, such as learning centers and other extracurricular activities. He is also certified in the Gifted and Talented Education program and entered administration at the encouragement of a mentor.

“During his tenure in these positions, Mr. Keiper demonstrated deep expertise in creating a positive culture and climate, educational pedagogy, social-emotional leadership and restorative practices,” San Diego Unified School District Zone 5 Superintendent Mitzi Merino wrote in a letter to Torrey Pines. Elementary families. “Mr. Keiper has a passion for instructional leadership and works alongside teachers to ensure the school is a place where students succeed and adults thrive.

Work alongside local teachers began even before Keiper welcomed students for the school year.

Torrey Pines Elementary is one of five La Jolla public schools in the San Diego Unified School District preparing to begin the new school year on August 29.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

“The teachers are dedicated and conscientious, so they were there over the holidays and I got to meet them,” Keiper said. “There is a lot of pride here. It’s a wonderful thing. I love teachers, they are my people. I tend to bond tight because I never forgot how it was.

“What I like about being an administrator is that it’s the best of all possible worlds. Your goal opens up with each rung you go up. As a teacher, you can focus on your class, your grade level. As a principal, you see all of that, how it really interconnects and interacts with the teacher and the community, but you’re still with the kids.

Torrey Pines already has “a lot of incredible systems in place” that align with its philosophy, he said. “We have these caring and dedicated teachers and I look forward to working closely with the teachers and providing opportunities to develop these children into complete global citizens.”

Expanding that to include parents and the surrounding community, Keiper said he looks forward to “getting to know everyone and being part of the community myself.” I welcome them and their ideas and perspectives. I’m new here, but they are the experts. I’m so excited to be here and look forward to a wonderful partnership.

“I love teachers, they are my people. I tend to bond tight because I never forgot how it was.

—Keith Keiper

In his spare time, Keiper and his family enjoy gardening, cooking, photography and travelling.

He arrives at Torrey Pines after former headmistress Nona Richard left at the end of last school year in June. His departure came amid accusations by some parents of harassment, bullying and discrimination over the pandemic mask policy and failure to respond to student bullying.

San Diego Unified said it could not comment on the allegations because a family had filed a lawsuit as a possible precursor to a lawsuit.

Some parents have praised Richard, saying she makes their children feel safe and brings ‘a wonderful mix of passion for students [and] energy and administrative sense at work.

Torrey Pines Elementary School is located at 8350 Cliffridge Ave. To find out more, visit torreypines.sandiegounified.org. ◆

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