Longtime educator David Jaffe was hired as the new principal at Vista High School. He officially started July 1. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Vista High School tabs David Jaffe as new principal

VISTA — As a new school year approaches, a new face has taken over at Vista High School.

Longtime educator and a former superintendent David Jaffe is excited to get to work. He started on July 1 after the Vista Unified School District board of trustees approved the hire in April.

He replaced interim Principal Chryl Taugher, who is retiring after 17 years in the district.

Jaffe was superintendent of the Rancho Santa Fe School District, but said it was a mutual decision to leave the district. Jaffe said he is more comfortable in schools rather than in a district administration capacity.

Regardless, he has been prepping for the new position for the last several months, getting to know the staff, campus, programs and environment at Vista High School.

“I want to make an impact and difference in the next community I work in,” Jaffe said. “I love being a principal. It’s my strongest position to be in. I have a direct impact through leadership, culture of the campus and kids’ journey.”

What drew him to Vista High was it is one of the original schools in San Diego County and the school community. The roots, he said, run deep along with a student population in need of strong leadership.

Jaffe has worked as a teacher and in leadership roles across the K-12 spectrum. He also served as principal at Torrey Pines High School, assistant principal at Diegueño Middle and La Costa Canyon High School, and was founding principal of Canyon Crest Academy.

Additionally, he served as the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the San Dieguito Union High School District.

“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Jaffe to VHS and the district,” said President Rosemary Smithfield of the district’s board of trustees. “In partnership with parents, teachers, and staff we were able to find someone who has the knowledge and experience needed to take Vista High School to the next level of excellence.”

One area of strength at Vista High has been focused on personalized learning, which puts ownership of education on the students. Jaffe said the old-school method of educating doesn’t work, so engaging students is critical for their success.

One program of note is the school’s Career Technical Education pathways, which include the JROTC, Future Farmers of America and culinary arts, to name a few.

“These kids are really running a kitchen,” Jaffe said. “They are excited about it. These types of programs are what attracted me to here. Now, let’s build more.”

Another longer-term goal, he said, is to evaluate programs at Vista High and the middle schools and vertically align those.

In addition, starting with this year’s freshman class, another goal is by the time they graduate, the students have a clear picture of the next step. Whether it’s a four-year college or trade school, Jaffe said, the students must have engaged in “intentional” thought about their future.

“When we focus solely on the Xs and Os of education … we’re not developing the whole person,” he added. “Unless they are grounded in an interest or have a passion for something, the attrition rate out of college is tough on them.”Jaffe brings experience, passion as new principal at VHS

Photo Caption: Longtime educator David Jaffe was hired as the new principal at Vista High School. He officially started July 1. Photo by Steve Puterski

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