New Chapters for Sohn and Wu

Joel Sohn Leaves UPrep After Three Years and Susie Wu Moves Up


Photo: Eliza Barton

Joel Sohn and Susie Wu stand in front of University Prep

With only four weeks left before school is out, Joel Sohn reflects on his time at University Prep. Sohn has worked as the Director of Upper School at UPrep for three years. On March 24, 2023, Sohn announced in a school email that he will be leaving the school at the end of the year. Sohn is moving to become the Assistant Head of School for Planning and Strategic Initiatives at Head Royce, a kindergarten through 12th grade school in Oakland, California.

Sohn is sad to leave UPrep, but he is also very excited for his future at the new school.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to do something that I love, which is to do really big, high-level strategic thinking on what’s next for a school,” Sohn said. “The school is about to open a brand-new campus and about to launch a brand-new strategic plan, and about to redefine what they think of as educational excellence. Being able to lead that and lead those discussions, I think, is really exciting.”

Working with students in an elementary school was one of Sohn’s dreams ever since he became a teacher. 

“I’ve always had an interest in elementary education,” Sohn said. “In fact my first kind of desire to teach came when I was able to volunteer to teach at an elementary school.”

Sohn also has connections to the Oakland area and has wanted to get back there for a long time.

“My father was in the Coast Guard and he was stationed in the Bay Area, and so it gives us a chance to get back there too,” Sohn said.

Director of Middle School, Susie Wu, will take Sohn’s job as Director of the Upper School. She is eager to move up and take on her new role.

“I am excited and I am grateful for the opportunity to come into upper school,” Wu said. “I am going to start on day one just by listening and trying to really understand what the day-to-day is and really help people feel better about their day-to-day experience at UPrep.” 

Sohn believes that Wu will be a great fit for the job because of her skills and experience in teaching.

“I think Ms. Wu is going to do an awesome job. She’s, you know, a thoughtful leader. She’s a person of immense character and integrity,” Sohn said. “She knows how to talk to people, and I think that’s really important for the role.”

Assistant Director of Upper School, Meg Anderson-Johnston, has been working with Wu to make a smooth transition for the school.

“Our two roles work really, really closely together. And so to already have a bit of a foundation is going to be a really positive thing,” Anderson-Johnston said, “We met quite a bit like when the transition was sort of being decided, and then a lot after that.”

Some of Sohn’s best memories come from times when the community got better after the COVID-19 pandemic, including the class of 2024 sophomore retreat.  

“One of the moments that stand out to me is the return of overnight retreats after COVID,” Sohn said. “It was a terrible bonfire, but it was a bonfire and to just see the kids be with one another, that’s when I felt like things are starting to get back to what we thought school could be.”

Many members of the UPrep community will miss Sohn, including Anderson-Johnston.

“I’ve just really loved working with Joel. We’re, you know, colleagues and we’re also really good friends,” Anderson-Johnston said. “’I’m just gonna miss seeing him every day and our chats and hanging out at lunch and he’s just been such a wonderful mentor.”

Sohn wants others to remember him as a dependable and helpful source for both students and teachers.

“I hope I will be remembered as someone who was reliable. That when I said I was going to do something, I got it done,” Sohn said. “Also, someone that was approachable and accessible for students.”