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Meet UPrep’s Director of Upper School Susie Wu
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Director of Upper School Susie Wu, pictured above, has worked with high school students for the majority of her career. 

Meet UPrep’s Director of Upper School Susie Wu
A Q& A with the leader of UPrep’s high school

Upper School Director Susie Wu has spent most of her career working with high school students. Prior to joining UPrep’s Senior Leadership Team, she spent 10 years as a 9th and 10th grade science teacher and 17 years at Rainier Scholars, a local nonprofit that offers a pathway to college graduation for hard-working, low-income students of color. Being director of UPrep’s Middle School was a new adventure for Susie and she led the division for five years. She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she received her BA and master’s in education.

As an educator for more than 20 years, what do you love about working in education?

What keeps me in this career is working with students and trying to figure out who they are and what they need as people. After ten years working as a high school science teacher in Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area, I was lucky to join Rainier Scholars as the director of leadership development. For 12 of the 17 years of my time there, I worked with high school students and their families as they moved through high school. I tracked our students’ grades, college applications, extracurricular interests, and early professional work experience and I had a view into some of the important life choices that our students made along the way. After working with thousands of students over the last 30 years, I’ve gained an enormous perspective about how people learn and grow. It’s been incredibly rewarding.

Why do you love the UPrep community?

UPrep is a dynamic, vibrant community and a place of growth for our students and teachers. I appreciate that everyone shares different parts of their identity here, like the athlete who is also a performing musician, or the math teacher who is also a competitive Ultimate player. I also like the fact that fundamentally we are all problem solvers and leaders.

Why are you excited to lead UPrep’s Upper School?

I have big shoes to fill after former directors Joel Sohn and Ken Jaffe! I’m looking forward to working with our Upper School students as they discover more about who they are and who they hope to become. I also look forward to working with the team of Upper School teachers and advisors. They are incredibly hard working and care deeply about their students and their professional craft.

What makes UPrep’s Upper School unique?

UPrep has always been a place where students can be challenged academically in a compassionate and thoughtful community. I envision the UPrep Upper School to be a place where students go from good to great, because we meet them where they are at and help take them where they are hoping to go.

How does UPrep prepare students to lead a life of learning?

I’m often struck by stories I hear about our alumni. They recall being with teachers and adults here who sparked their interests in something. Later in their lives, these interests became much more prominent. Alumni often talk about discovering an undervalued talent or an experience while at UPrep that they have been able to build on as adults.

Also, our students see UPrep adults who are constantly learning, and this influences our students to do the same. Students here are willing to step out of their comfort zone because they have a feeling that it’s safe to try new things here. They are taught by adults who really care and see them as people and the students bring a lot of themselves to what they do at UPrep. Both the adults and students in our community are multidimensional people and this is a place that nurtures a range of interests, strengths, and leadership opportunities.

How do you lead a life of learning?

In my 50s, I am personally stretching my comfort zone by trying different physical activities. In my new UPrep role, I’m looking forward to attending games, performances, and College Counseling workshops because I like learning. When I went to my first Ultimate game, I loved learning the rules. When I go to a play performance, I love knowing the adults and students and learning what it takes to put on a performance.

What do you do to unwind?

When I want to be physically still, I love to read mysteries, do crossword puzzles or garden. When I am active, I enjoy roller skating and kickboxing. I also love sharing a good meal with family or friends.

Headshot photograph of University Prep writer and editor, Nancy Alton

By Writer/Editor Nancy Schatz Alton

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