St. Michael-Albertville High School students will see some new faces on the administrative team when they head back to school next week.
Aaron Tepp and Jamie Wiitala will join STMA High School as assistant principals, and Mark Jansen is the new principal at Knight’s Academy, STMA’s alternative high school that’s located in the Community Education building.
Tepp spent the first two decades of his career steeped in the sciences. He taught life sciences in Richfield, MN, for 21 years before getting his first administrative role as Stillwater Middle School’s dean of students one year ago.
Tepp said he wanted to become an educator because he loves working with kids, and he said that connecting with students as they begin to enter adulthood and plan the next phase of their life is very rewarding.
“My primary goal has always been to give students the experience that inspires them to reach their goals in life,” he said.
Tepp said he was drawn to the assistant principal position at STMA High School because of STMA’s statewide reputation.
“The district is known for excellent teachers, students, administrators and as a school system that delivers first-rate programs both academically and in extra-curricular activities,” Tepp said. “I am thrilled to be here, and I look forward to growing with this community.”
Unlike Tepp, Wiitala is a familiar face in the STMA school district. She taught middle and high school math for seven years in Chisago Lakes before coming to STMA in 2013. She worked as a math teacher one year before joining the district’s Q-Comp program, serving as an instructional coach one year and then the Q-Comp advisor for three years.
Wiitala said her high school geometry teacher inspired her to become an educator. She said she struggled in math for the first time that year, but her teacher’s instruction and inspiration helped her succeed, and even excel, in the class.
“The way she showed how much she cared and wanted me to succeed is something I will never forget,” Wiitala said. “I wanted to be able to give the gift that my teacher gave me, and that is what I strive to do every day.”
Wiitala said her husband’s career brought them to the STMA area in 2013, and she said she quickly realized how fortunate she was to have joined this school district.
“The administration works so hard behind the scenes so their teachers can focus on the classroom and the instruction they provide,” she said. “The leadership team is strong and I am so grateful and excited to be a part of it for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Mark Jansen, STMA’s new Knights Academy principal, said he has spent his entire career working with at-risk youth in alternative settings. He worked as a social studies teacher at alternative high schools in south Minneapolis and Roseville, and when he finished his administrative license he became the dean of students at Forest Lake’s ALC program.
Jansen said he prefers working in an alternative school setting because he enjoys the positive relationships he can build with students in a small setting. Knights Academy has 36 students enrolled for this fall.
“STMA is a growing district with a supportive community,” Jansen said. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity and look forward to being part of the STMA and Knights Academy family.”