By Shreya Yepuri ’15, Editor-in-Chief
“The less rules the better!” That’s a statement you don’t typically hear from a principal.
Mr. Stephen Lepire has proven his commitment to fewer rules to promote a self-governing school atmosphere, whether he’s working with Student Council members to allow pajamas as part of the uniform for a day, or teaming with students vs. faculty in a game of pillow polo at a newly-instituted faith rally.
“There are many unexpected events in life and how we deal with those events defines our character,” Mr. Lepire told The Talon.
There’s no typical day for our new principal. It’s impossible to predict what an email or phone call will bring. Mr. Lepire’s character is certainly defined by his commitment to his faith, his dedication to providing and advancing excellent education and extracurricular activities, and his firm belief in developing meaningful communication with students and staff.
Describing his new role as a blessing, Mr. Lepire, grateful for our warm reception, gets the chance at Chaminade West Hills to integrate his Catholicism with his career.
“I can focus on faith-based issues, which helps me grow in my own faith, not just on Sundays,” Mr. Lepire told The Talon.
He credits Masses and retreats, as well as the Living In Faith Experience Team for inspiring him in his own faith journey and making adapting to our campus easier.
Humbled by his first semester here, Mr. Lepire explained how fortunate he feels to have so many people helping him.
Since he’s been a school administrator at middle- and high- schools for years, he’s not really surprised by any situations that arise. However, he acknowledges “learning the culture is an ongoing process” and stresses one of the most important aspects of his job is taking what he’s learned from past experiences and combining that knowledge with feedback from faculty, staff, and students to resolve conflicts. He makes most decisions with small committees and makes sure to hear input from different groups on campus, democratizing the decision-making process by being inclusive.
Mr. Lepire’s passion for bettering education began as a teenager when a job coaching and volunteering at an elementary school inspired him to become an educator and devote his talents in an academic setting.
While attending Loyola Marymount University, a Jesuit-sponsored school, Mr. Lepire reignited his passion for coaching, though he knew it wouldn’t be his ultimate career. He worked as both coach and teacher, with a heavy emphasis on teaching. When he was 24, Mr. Lepire got his first full-time job as a high school instructor.
He moved from the Los Angeles Unified School District to the Conejo Valley Unified School District and eventually to our campus.
After a stressful week leading the 1,300+ student campus, Mr. Lepire enjoys golfing and watching movies. You can catch him coaching his youngest son’s basketball team, or on the West Hills campus enjoying a stage play or a sporting event. He appreciates the hard work that goes into these activities and relishes the opportunity to be a part of this community.
Watching our football team win the State and CIF Division II championships has been exciting, he said. Echoing his belief that character is defined in unexpected moments, Mr. Lepire said one of the most impressive components of the football team’s success is how the coaching staff and players learned to overcome adversity and adjust to challenges early in the season.
Mr. Lepire acknowledges the importance of the football program playing a positive role for the school in terms of publicity, and allowing a window into our other extra-curriculars such as speech and debate, drama, robotics, and Comedy Sportz.
“Sports get more publicity, but we can take advantage of that to soak in the moment without losing perspective of the big picture,” he said.
Setting the standard for education is not only Chaminade’s mission, but also Mr. Lepire’s goal. He hopes to continue to attract the best students and is evaluating how we, as a school, can do that and what steps need to be taken to academically challenge students once they get here.
Working with our middle school and other parish feeder-schools, as well as securing good opportunities and resources, is vital to his effort. As a parent himself (Andrew ’16), Mr. Lepire knows various schooling styles, but he wants to make us a premier institution by building new programs and continuing to innovate without sacrificing our Marianist traditions and charisms.
One such program is a “blended, online platform” allowing fully-online classes so students can take more than seven courses. Another mode under evaluation is whether the block schedule is conducive to blended learning. Whether it will give teachers more opportunities to collaborate to develop a more cohesive, interdisciplinary curriculum, also will be explored.
Although he says “it’s hard to make changes coming in new,” Mr. Lepire has cemented himself as a welcome, respected figure on campus whom we look forward to working with throughout our career here.