Keeping up with the retirees: Principal Wynne Satterwhite


For nineteen years, Wynne Satterwhite has put the “pal” in principal, using her woven basket filled to the brim with snacks for students and staff alike to grab whenever they stop by her office. The impact this seemingly small gesture has on the Los Altos High School community is almost sweeter than the chocolate on her desk.

“She controls all the snacks,” economics teacher Derek Miyahara said.

“She’s extremely personable,” librarian Gordon Jack said. “She makes it easy to be at the table with [her].”

Part of Satterwhite’s relatability comes from the fact that she’s more than willing to step in and do things herself. Miyahara recalled a time where he saw Satterwhite packaging snacks for freshmen in the sweltering sun during orientation.

“I know in her mind, what happened was: the task needed to be done — and there wasn’t anybody else to do it,” Miyahara said. “She’s not the kind of principal who says, ‘I’m the principal and you’re not so you have to do all these things.’”

“She will go out and clean tables, move trash cans or go and drive to get doughnuts for the staff,” Jack said.

Satterwhite attributes her proactive attitude to her upbringing.

“My mom and my dad were both educators, and very passionate about what they did,” she said. “As I helped them out, I realized that at some point, if you’re not willing to do the job, why would you ask someone else to do it?”

When Satterwhite was initially offered the job for principal, she was hesitant to take on the responsibility.

“It wasn’t the work I was afraid of,” she said. “I was pretty young, and I was afraid of making mistakes. And [as principal], the buck does stop at your door a lot.”

However, a long conversation with Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg convinced her to take on the job.

“I respect her more and more the longer I work with her,” Rosenberg said.

And this sentiment rings true throughout the LAHS community.

“The day when everybody heard that she agreed to take on the role [of principal], everyone here was ecstatically happy because she just seemed so perfect for it,” Jack said.

“I can’t say enough good things about her,” Assistant Principal Nicolas Betancur said.

Though they’ve all worked with her in different capacities, all of Satterwhite’s coworkers can agree on one thing: her vision is student-centered and she works tirelessly to support her staff.

When asked for specific examples, Rosenberg laughed.

“It’s pretty much in any decision she makes,” he said.

An example of this is Satterwhite’s commitment to making sure students have the best possible time at their graduations. She uniquely works to make it so that students can pick where they sit at graduation.

“At all my graduations — high school, college — [we got] put in alphabetical order,” Satterwhite said. And that’s just how it happened. So it just didn’t feel like it was about the kids. I feel really strongly about this.”

Satterwhite also works to ensure that students and staff are able to explore their intellectual curiosities.

“Satterwhite supports her staff,” Miyahara said. “When we did ethnic studies, she was the primary administrative support for our push. And I will always remember that. She has always given us 100 percent support.”

Jack will remember Satterwhite’s legacy as twofold: seeded in congeniality and collegiality.

“She’ll be remembered for creating this culture of congeniality, and making sure that everyone gets along, and is friendly, empathetic and caring for each other,” he said. “But also collegiality — that professional development that we do. She trusted teachers to really lead the school.”

That sentiment echoes in Satterwhite’s parting words.

“This has just been the best ever,” Satterwhite said. “Some people leave their jobs and they’re like, ‘oh, I can hardly wait to get out of here.’ And I’m like… I don’t know if I really want to retire. The part that I feel good about is that the staff is strong. And I believe that the next person that comes in here has a really amazing opportunity with the people they get to work with.”