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UPrep Leaders to Learn From: Debbie Playter, Executive and Board Assistant

We are excited to share the third blog in our series, UPrep Leaders to Learn From, featuring a conversation with Debbie Playter, Executive and Board Assistant, and one of the longest tenured employees at UPrep.

Mary Beth Lambert, Director of Marketing and Communications

We are excited to share the third blog in our series, UPrep Leaders to Learn From, featuring a conversation with Debbie Playter, Executive and Board Assistant.

Debbie Playter is one of the longest tenured employees at UPrep, and she has a deep institutional knowledge. She supports the Head of School and the Board of Trustees, in addition to managing the Main Office. She juggles a dizzying array of tasks with an unfailingly gracious attitude and a warm sense of humor, and inspires us all on a daily basis.  

How long have you been at UPrep and what roles have you held?

I am in the middle of my 33rd year at UPrep. Time flies! I was hired by Founder Terry Froggatt in 1982 as the Development Office Assistant. The school didn’t have many staff members at the time, so I also provided administrative support to Admissions, College Counseling, and the Main Office. 

In 1983, I left to give birth to my oldest son, Jonathan, and a few short months later, Roger Bass called me to see if I could possibly come back. We put a crib in the office, and I brought the baby in with me! A year later, I had my second son, Micah, and took a few years off to be a stay-at-home mom. I then came back full-time to work in the Main Office. 

Eleven years later, after the birth of my daughter, Sarah, I worked part-time and became Roger Bass’s assistant. When Erica Hamlin was appointed Head of School, I increased to three-quarter time and Board Assistant was added to my job description. Twelve years later, when Matt Levinson arrived, I increased to full-time and my position evolved to also include supervising the Main Office staff.

What brought you to UPrep?

I saw a little ad in the local paper advertising for a development assistant. I had always liked the idea of working in a school environment because I love kids and the energy they bring. So, I came in for an interview and the rest is history. 

What have been some of your favorite UPrep moments so far this year?

My favorite moments this year, and nearly every year, are the all-school assemblies, particularly those that are student-led. One of my favorite things is when the jazz band plays in the Commons during lunch. Music Day is always a highlight.

What’s the biggest/most impactful change that has happened at UPrep during your 33 years?

I think the biggest change for me personally was when our office moved out of the portables that used to be in the back parking lot and into the Administration Building. The whole dynamic of the school changed with more students and more space. 

UPrep recently rolled out a new communications framework that amplifies our mission based on three key words: Include, Invent, and Inspire. How have you seen these words come to life during the first few months of school?

There are so many ways that the words embody UPrep, including Music Day, the upcoming January Intensives, and the Commons transformation this summer.

Who is a current leader or historical figure you admire? Why?

I admire so many people. Those who have taught and inspired me the most, and whom I admire the most, are my four kids. They are smart, funny, non-judgmental, they stretch my mind, challenge my beliefs and have each made me into a better person. I am blessed to journey through life with them.

 What do you like to do in your spare time? 

My family is my focus. I spend a lot of time helping care for my aging parents when I’m not at work. I spend as much time as possible with each of my four grown children and two grandchildren. My husband Jeff and I like to cook together. Larger family dinners are always at our house. Jeff often grills salmon – the best I’ve ever had – and I generally take care of the sides and desserts.

We have two dogs, Jake and Asha, whom we adore. I enjoy sewing, especially for charities. I have donated many handmade blankets to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. I helped organize a group from my church to sew pajama pants for Holly House, which is a Children’s holiday gift program that provides gifts and necessities for low-income children primarily in Snohomish County.

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