MILWAUKIE — Alanna O’Brien has been named La Salle Prep’s principal for the 2020-21 school year.

She takes over the principal’s job from Andrew Kuffner, who stepped away from the role this summer so he could focus on his work as president of the Catholic high school in Milwaukie. Kuffner served as La Salle’s president and principal simultaneously for two years.

“I can think of no one more qualified than Ms. O’Brien to lead La Salle at this time,” Kuffner wrote in a letter to the La Salle community. 

Since she started working at La Salle in 1996, O’Brien has taught English, and, for the past seven years, served as the school’s vice principal for curriculum and professional development.

Under O’Brien’s watch, La Salle’s teachers have engaged in ongoing professional development focused on up-to-date skills and habits, technology integration, and innovative practices. The innovations helped La Salle become the first Oregon school to offer remote learning when severe weather kept students from getting to campus a few years ago.

O’Brien earned a degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, volunteered in Seattle for a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, then earned her master’s degree in teaching, and later her administrative license, from Lewis and Clark College in Portland. 

O’Brien says she wants the school “to be a place where students feel connected to a community, where they are engaged in learning, where they figure out who their best selves are, and how they can use their talents in the world.”  

During the pandemic, O’Brien is working with the school’s faculty to support students as much as possible. She’s also focused on supporting the faculty themselves by giving them the training, technology and time they need to restructure their lessons and methods of teaching.

Despite the challenges posed by remote education, O’Brien says La Salle still strives to provide a meaningful education that develops students’ critical thinking skills. “I want our students to find their education relevant for a world that is so complex,” she said.