Roosevelt's popular principal to step down

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Dave Humphrey, the popular principal of Roosevelt High School, will retire next month.

The announcement surprised many students and staffers, some of whom tried to talk the energetic Humphrey out of his decision. But the 54-year old principal said he wanted to step away after 30 years in education.

Calling it a major loss to the Seattle School District, Superintendent Joseph Olchefske said a search will begin soon for his replacement. "He has brought a sense of vision, a sense of stability," Olchefske said yesterday. "He is clearly a highly skilled educator."

In his three years at Roosevelt, Humphrey has attracted some of the area's most sought-after teachers, and he oversaw drama, music and foreign-language programs that are among the state's best.

The prestigious programs are a major reason the school has been the top choice of many incoming ninth-graders.

Many seniors consider Humphrey strict yet approachable, said student Vice President Brittain Ashford-Trotter.

Last year, Humphrey held firm on his decision to suspend 28 students in connection with thefts of University of Washington athletic equipment, despite parents' concerns the suspensions might cost their children places at top universities.

But retirement has been on Humphrey's mind lately, and he figured the timing is good since things at the school are running smoothly. He said his departure also will give his replacement a chance to ease into the job before Roosevelt's remodeling, scheduled for 2004.

The North Bend resident said it's possible he will return to teaching math or running another school, perhaps even in the next school year. But any such decision, he said, will be made on the golf course, where he intends to spend most of July. He also plans to take his boat to the San Juan Islands and spend more time with his wife, Penny.

A highlight of his career, Humphrey said, is that it is closing at the same school where he graduated in 1964.

He took the helm at the North Seattle high school after eight years as principal at Mount Si High in Snoqualmie.

"It was a great thing to be able to see what was behind all the doors that I couldn't see before," he said.

Tan Vinh can be reached at 206-515-5656 or