Rookie of the Year: Torrey Pines Elementary principal is honored for his ‘amazing’ first year in La Jolla


To rousing applause and cheers, Torrey Pines Elementary School Principal Keith Keiper received one of five inaugural Rookie of the Year awards from the San Diego Unified School District on April 10.

Keiper, who started at Torrey Pines Elementary this school year after two dozen years in education between New York and San Bernardino, was the only Rookie of the Year in La Jolla and said he was completely surprised by the assembly the school held to present him with the honor.

The Rookie of the Year award, which the district gives in partnership with North County Credit Union and the San Diego Padres, comes with being recognized during the Padres game Tuesday, May 2, which Keiper will attend in a VIP suite at Petco Park.

Keiper “has made this school such an amazing place for learning,” SDUSD Area 5 Superintendent Mitzi Merino said at the Torrey Pines assembly.

Keiper cares “about the parents and the families here,” said district board member Cody Petterson, a parent at TPES.

Speaking on behalf of the school’s teachers, Martha Bagaporo said Keiper “brings to us a wealth of professional experience, proven leadership and a deep knowledge of curriculum and instruction.”

What sets Keiper apart from other principals, Bagaporo said, is his commitment to building relationships with students, staff and families. “He is a tireless advocate … for our school.”

Keiper, whose wife, Beth, and daughter, Addison, attended the assembly (Keiper also has two sons who weren’t able to attend), was emotional about the honor.

“I’m very taken aback; I’m very humbled,” he said. “What an incredible place to land in my career and do great work with all the wonderful people here. Our kids are second to none. … You guys are great; you make coming to work every day a whole lot of fun. This has truly been the best experience of my career.” ◆