RANCHO SANTA FE — After working more than 19 years for the San Diego Unified School District at La Jolla Elementary, Donna Tripi, the former elementary school principal, decided to shift professional gears and accept the post of Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent. Tripi said her long stay at La Jolla Elementary stemmed from loving the community and the school’s academic milestones over the years.
However, when the superintendent position popped up at the Rancho Santa Fe School District after David Jaffe’s resignation on July 31, 2018, Tripi was ready for the challenge — and what intrigued her most was the small district size, which mirrored La Jolla Elementary.
“I felt that I could do the same kind of work that I was doing at La Jolla Elementary, it’s a similar size,” she said. “La Jolla Elementary had 575 students.” She added the Rancho Santa Fe School District has about 600 hundred students.
At R. Roger Rowe, being able to offer both an elementary and middle school is a wonderful thing to provide parents, Tripi said. The ability for students to stay at one campus for nine years and to offer that type of continuity was something that Tripi found even more appealing.
Since Tripi started her new position on Jan. 2, she has met with every grade level team, and all the departments while understanding their current practices.
She also had the opportunity to meet with the RSF Education Foundation, which she described as well-functioning and an amazing entity for all the work that they do in raising funds.
“If we didn’t have the education foundation’s support, we couldn’t provide the smaller class size, the enrichment and all the kinds of things we really want our kids to have,” Tripi said. “We rely so heavily on the foundation, and they really rise to the occasion.”
Meeting with all these groups has enabled Tripi to determine ways she can be of service to the district.
Tripi said while she is enjoying the work, she continues to look forward to learning more about the Rancho Santa Fe community as well as how she can make a positive impact and move the school forward.
“We have a great school, a great faculty, and a great parent community,” Tripi said.
She added that the district is already at an impressive starting place.
For her current focus, Tripi said that the school board has already provided her with some direction. While Tripi will be looking at things anew, there may be tweaking in some areas the board identified such as budgets, curriculums, and safety — the same types of items that most schools identify with, she said.
For Tripi, it’s about making the strong areas of the school even stronger.
Tripi wants parents to know that she is a real hands-on administrator.
“Parents are going to see me because I’m everywhere — I like to be in the classrooms and at the events,” she said. “I like to build community and become more entrenched in the community.”
Additionally, Tripi said how welcoming the entire community has been since her arrival.
“This is an incredible community, so I’m feeling very fortunate — I’m very honored to have been selected to be in this position, and to be the leader at a place of this caliber,” Tripi said. “This is a small community where people are working together for what’s important — and that’s for the education of their kids, and it’s such a valuable piece.”