By Natalie Silverman and Miranda Simes
After serving as Instructional Vice Principal (IVP) for 16 years, Steve Lippi has decided to return to the classroom for his final years at M-A before retiring. Prior to working in M-A’s administrative office, Lippi taught math for 15 years at M-A, and plans to return to the subject next year.
Before he came to M-A in 1986, Lippi worked as an accountant in Palo Alto. Lippi noted that “it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t something [he] truly enjoyed.” In college, when he served as a teacher’s assistant (TA) in an accounting class, Lippi realized that what he really liked was working with students. Lippi “got the accounting degree and did that for a number of years” and then transitioned to being a teacher. He recalls that one of the things that helped him to decide “to get into teaching from the business world… was just contact with students.”
Lippi’s passion for working with students grew during his first years at M-A. Lippi shared, “I was also Student Activity Director and I coached for a little bit so I always enjoyed that aspect of [the job] and always had planned on maybe get back to that.”
When he taught math, Lippi enjoyed working with his classes and creating a bond with students, even if math was not their favorite subject. “I tried to make it so that people would want to come to class, try to engage them and learn a little bit about the students…to get a community going.” He “wanted to make it so it’s fun to see the students every day and [make it so] that they want to come to class.”
As IVP, Lippi is currently in charge of students’ classes and he manages standardized testing, among other administrative tasks. Lippi shared, “[the IVP position is] mostly scheduling and testing; you don’t have the day to day contact with students. You don’t get to watch [the students] at the start of the year and watch them… that’s part of what I’m looking forward to.”
Having worked at M-A since 1986, Lippi notices the differences between students then and students now. Lippi explained that when he was a student, “it used to be that there were a lot more things that you could do [in your free time] that really interested you, and you could still get to where you wanted. That’s one of the hardest parts, to tell students, ‘Follow your passion, do what you like to do, don’t take 6 APs if that’s really not your interest.’”
Describing himself in high school, Lippi said, “It was different back then, after school you were involved in some sport or something like that. If you had time to do homework, great, if not it was okay to get a C in a class. It wasn’t really that you planned ahead five or ten years.”
Lippi grew up in San Francisco, and attended University of San Francisco. “Honestly, I didn’t really have any plans to go to college, but a counselor in high school forced me to take the SAT…and he got me on the road to a four-year school.”
For now, Lippi isn’t sure what his plan is for next year—where his classroom will be or even what level math he will be teaching.
What advice does Lippi have for students? “Growing up in the 60s, the advice we always used to get was ‘Beware of old guys giving you advice,’” Lippi joked. “My world was so different from your world, I think it’s always good to listen, but beware of people wanting to give you too much advice.”