About Us | From the Head
A Message from the Head of School

Every day at Seattle Academy, the administration, faculty, and staff are thinking of innovative answers to this question: how do we educate young people for the future? Here, we teach our students the skills and instincts they need to address new opportunities in a world of interconnectedness and to excel in jobs that will be created by technology that doesn’t yet exist. Seattle Academy is preparing our students to succeed in—and enjoy and shape—their future.

When our school was founded in 1983, traditional education involved separation. Gifted students were separated from the non-gifted, the analytical and the rational were separated from the emotional and the intuitive, and the classroom was separated from the “real world.” Talking-head teachers addressed students rooted firmly in their seats, who demonstrated knowledge by taking a lot of tests.

Seattle Academy was different from the day it opened: we prepare students not only for college, but also for life. We believe all students are gifted. We focus on the individual, find the strengths in each person, and build on them. Students are frequently not in their seats. The Culture of Performance and problem-based work requires the integration of the analytical and rational with the emotional and the intuitive. And kids have fun.

College administrators, internship supervisors, and employers all agree that our graduates are unusually well prepared because they integrate knowledge with 21st century skills. Those skills include writing and speaking well; having fluency with technology, an innovative mindset, and self-direction; and having the ability to take risks, learn from failure, and collaborate. We emphasize the importance of community, kindness, and dignity. The clear alignment between what the world needs and what our graduates can do is a function of our school’s innovative teaching culture. At Seattle Academy, we are always working to implement better ways to teach and learn.

Joe Puggelli
Head of School

About Us | From the Head




Joe Puggelli began his tenure as Head of School in 2009. He has been with Seattle Academy since 1996 and served as Assistant Head of School, Head of the Upper School, and English Teacher. Joe has led Seattle Academy’s growth by one third—90 students graduated in the class of 2009 and freshman classes now average at 120 students—while ensuring the school’s dedication to experiential learning and close community stays strong. This has included everything from expanding the senior project (internship) program in the city of Seattle, developing the marketing and communications department, to recruiting and training some of the most accomplished, innovative, and dedicated faculty in Seattle.

Prior to joining Seattle Academy, Joe was an English Department chair, Russian language teacher, and award-winning football and wrestling coach at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington and the McBurney School in New York City. At the McBurney School, he created an internship program, led one of the top athletic programs in the New York metropolitan area, and started and directed the school’s first office of public relations and recruitment. In 1993, he won the prestigious Newsweek/Sallie-Mae “Inspiring Teacher” Award for his work.

Joe earned his B.A. in Humanities from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and his M.A. in Russian Area Studies from Penn State. A veteran of the U.S. Army who fought during the Vietnam War, Joe was twice awarded the Bronze Star for valor under fire as well as the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Air Medal. Joe’s management experience includes running his own consulting firm in New York and four years as an owner and executive director of Entertainment Magazine in the 1980s. He wrote the Off-Off Broadway play “God Bless America,” the handbook How to Write Well Right Now!, and numerous articles, essays, and stories published in national and foreign magazines and journals.