Big Picture
440 South 186th Street Burien, WA 98148

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Principal

Jeff Petty

Jeff Petty

Jeff’s teaching career started at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), where for several years he led multi-week mountaineering expeditions in Washington, British Columbia, and Patagonia. In the mid-1990’s, motivated by books like Savage Inequalities (by Jonathan Kozol), The Good High School (by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot), and Beloved (by Toni Morrison), Jeff began transitioning to public education with an interest in countering the ways that schools reinforce this country’s persistent racial disparities. For the past 25+ years, Jeff has worked as a public school teacher and administrator and as a consultant to schools and school districts on how to reorient schools in order to know students as unique individuals and make their learning more engaging.

In 2005 Jeff founded Highline Big Picture and served as its principal for eight years. He then transitioned to be the first northwest regional director for Big Picture Learning, where he stewarded a growing regional network of partner schools in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon and advocated for various policy changes to support interest-driven learning. He also started a principal leadership incubator called School Foundry, supporting new school leaders through the design and launch of new public schools, including several of Washington’s recently-opened charter schools. He returned to Highline Big Picture in the fall of 2020 and is thrilled to be back!

If he had to sum up what his work is for and about, it’s about transforming public education as a vehicle for a more just society. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Princeton University, a Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and a principal credential from the University of Washington. Notwithstanding his calm demeanor and how much he loves interacting with students, Jeff is fundamentally motivated by anger at systemic inequities, especially those perpetuated by schools.

When not at work, Jeff loves spending time at home or outdoors, hiking and trail running, learning how to fix things like old cars and boats, and playing ultimate frisbee with two local teams.