Vice Principal Jim Saffeels is slated to retire from South’s administrative team on Dec. 31. He will take the position of Principal at the Salem Academy High School immediately. Salem Academy is a small, private, Christian school near Lancaster Mall and has about 600 students between grades 7 and 12. Saffeels was asked to apply to the position when it opened last summer.
“It was not my plan at the beginning of this fall to do something like this,” Saffeels said. “Really to make it work, I’d have to retire. Counting the cost on that and talking it over with my wife and family, it just seemed like this could work.”
According to Saffeels, one of the reasons why he is excited to work at Salem Academy is that it offers a smaller, more focused atmosphere for students that gives him the opportunity to get to know students better. He is familiar with the learning environment because all three of his sons have graduated from the school, and his wife has taught there for 15 years.
“Unlike a public school, students are going to a private school for a whole host of different things… In a big school, it’s easy to get lost. In a small school, you can be involved in everything,” Saffeels said.
When asked what his favorite part about working at South has been, Saffeels confidently said, “The students.” Saffeels went on to explain how especially rewarding it has been to watch students who have had a hard time getting through the obstacles high school can present walk at graduation, well-earned diplomas in hand.
“That’s even better than Christmas,” Saffeels said.
Ultimately, Saffeels has been very happy working with the students and staff here at South; he is in awe of the wonderful teachers that work here, and has learned a lot from them.
“South is a great place to be–I am so thankful and grateful for the past three and a half years.”
According to Saffeels, the Salem-Keizer district is looking for a new Vice Principal to replace him and interviews will be held in early January after winter break.