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Principal's Profile

By Ian Sturak

“The reception that I got from the staff, the students, and our parents made me feel at home.”

Mr. Jaffe recently became Point Loma’s principal. Sitting down to talk with the press about what it’s been like, he emphasized that from the start, it’s been one of the most pleasant welcomes that he’s experienced. “I don’t know your history… but it was the welcoming that I got that confirmed how excited I was about the choice that I made to come here.

“In the time that I’ve been here, the students have been very respectful. The staff is excited for our new leadership. The parent community has been very receptive to me; my goal is to make people feel comfortable coming to talk to me.”

He discussed what it was like moving to a new place - and his philosophy in adapting to a different student body. “I’ve been with three other high schools; it's a new experience with the school itself but the actual experience of going to a new place isn’t new to me. The very first part of going to a new place is learning its culture, and I can't assume that with all the experience I have that I know everything.

“Instead, I’ve got to go in and ask questions, talk to students and listen to staff members and parents about what's going on in the community and in the school. All of that gives me a really good picture of the direction to go in as principal.”

He broke down the steps he used in breaking the ice at a new location. “The first priority I had was getting to know everybody and getting to know the students, making them feel safe with me and the way in which I’ll lead.

“The next priority is communicating with families and ensuring that they feel connected to the school, that we're communicating well with them and that they have a voice in the direction that we go.

“I think that ultimately the third piece is for the students themselves.” Mr. Jaffe has been a frequent advocate of school spirit - enthusiastically joining in school celebrations and events. “I’ve been working on students coming to the games and cheering, changing the culture to make it more positive. They’re excited to be there and I want them to have a great amount of fun, but not be disparaging to anybody else. I think as a whole we’re one people, one family at this school. One of my priorities is to treat each other well, students with each other, staff with students, staff with each other, it’s really the whole collective group.”

At his fourth school now, Mr. Jaffe isn’t a stranger to learning and building with the cultures already present in an area. “This is actually very similar to some of my earlier schools; my attitude is that I look to develop a mutually respectful relationship—I treat you with respect and I expect it in return. But by and large, there’s nothing that can happen that can’t be talked through.”

Mr. Jaffe discussed his priorities, and revealed what his goals were with the school over the next year. “I think, shooting for the moon, the first thing I would want is for when we do the Healthy Kids Survey I would love to have a hundred percent of the students say there is an adult on campus that cares about me. Usually there's eighty percent that do and twenty percent that say they don't. It starts in the ninth grade, where you see higher amounts of students that don't have an adult there for them and hopefully you see them connecting over time, that number decreasing. But I don't like that twenty percent number to begin with. For us twenty percent is three hundred forty kids, and those are all kids that need someone there for them.”

What’s most evident about Mr. Jaffe in speaking to him is the degree to which he cares about his students. His priorities lie in making sure that every student is comfortable not just with him, but with their high school experience in general. He cares not just about their academics, but about the community that’s being fostered at Point Loma. You hardly go a day without seeing him out and about, talking to students, involving himself in their clubs and activities, going to the football games with them, and encouraging them to enjoy themselves. Mr. Jaffe isn’t one to ever be cooped up in his office. His work is with the students that he’s already come to care so much about.

Mr. Jaffe finished by talking about his most long term priorities with Point Loma, what he wanted to leave the school and students with by the time he was gone. “I want every single student that graduates from us to have a plan for what’s next when they walk away. I want them to have a strong sense of who they are as a person—their strengths, their weaknesses, how they deal with adversity. I want them to be pursuing something that’s an interest that they’ve developed with us; I want to have had some influence in that. I want each kid to be able to describe what they want to do next, and how they were inspired. Right now, you have some kids for whom school inspires them, but some kids have to find that inspiration outside.”

“I think it’s exceptionally important for every graduating student, regardless of what they want to do, that they have a plan for what's next. That can be four-year college, going to a two-year college and transferring to a four-year college, going to a trade school, or even taking a year off and traveling. I believe that whatever it may happen to be, as long as they have a plan for it, that’s a good starting point for a student.”

Mr. Jaffe’s administration has already begun to change the school in the short time that he’s been here. Now, as the school year has truly commenced, they look toward the future, and the good they can do as they continue to establish themselves as friends and family to our community.


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