Meet Our Principal – Dr. Neil McCurdy

Meet Our Principal – Dr. Neil McCurdy

Leading By Example

At the School for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SET High), we celebrate the outstanding caliber of our teachers, staff and students every day. We are a tight-knit community dedicated to preparing students to thrive both personally and professionally in an increasingly global, technology-driven society.

One key way we deliver on our promise to SET students and families is by hiring and retaining the best educators around. SET teachers and staff lead by example. We love exploring new innovative challenges and are always encouraging our students to do the same. 

Today, we’re delighted to bring you an interview with our Principal, Dr. Neil McCurdy. Did you know Dr. McCurdy grew up overseas? Yep – he was raised in Vienna, Austria and New Delhi, India so we are lucky to have him here in San Diego! He received his degree in Computer Science from UCSD and brings an endlessly curious and compassionate viewpoint to everything he does. Keep reading to learn more.

SET Principal Neil McCurdyWhen did you know you wanted to work in education? 

When I got my first teaching job, I was still toying with a couple of ideas of what I wanted to do for work. As a part of my interview, I was asked to demonstrate how I teach. I remember thinking, this could be the only time that I will have an opportunity to say something to young people. 

Teaching that class inspired me – I had so much to say and I put a lot of thought into what that message would be and what my goal was. I left energized. That’s when I knew this was the work I needed to do. I was offered a job the following week and the rest is history.

Who Was Your Favorite Teacher & Why?

Mrs. Hunt, my 5th grade teacher, was strict and the workload for her class was ridiculous. 

We had to write a sentence for every vocabulary word once a week. My 5th grade mind agonized over the task and I felt like it took hours to do that work.

By the end of the year, it was super easy. It took about a quarter of the time, and I became a much better writer. That was when I realized – if you practice things that are difficult, they get much simpler and easier. 

I don’t think I was alone in recognizing that she was probably the best teacher that any of us ever had. Her strict teaching style was scary to start with but it made us all grow. 

How does SET High’s mission and vision align with your personal values? 

If I were to define what makes our school special right now, it would be the culture of the school; the acceptance, the belief that everybody’s got something to offer. For me, this is a perfect microcosm of what I believe in and we’ve got a whole community of students, staff, and parents who share those values. I think most importantly, it’s not that we share the same beliefs – it’s that we create a safe environment together where we can have disagreements, and then talk to work through those disagreements. 

What Do You Love Most About Your Role?

I love the ability to make a decision and turn on a dime to respond to something. Because of the transparency of our organization, we have trust from the board that we are going to make the right decisions. This gives me the ability to see a problem, come up with a solution and be able to implement that solution without having to go through layers of protocols and approvals.

What Else Would You Like Us to Know About You? 

My goal is to be as transparent as possible with students. I think it’s important to reveal to them when I don’t know how to do something because that’s a really important part of the learning experience. 

Kids tend to think that adults have all the answers and know how to do everything. That’s not always true and I want to make sure students understand this as a fact!

Another thing I’d like people to know about me is that I am truly as excited about computer programming as I say I am. I actually go home and try to solve problems. I’m a reflective person and continuously work to identify how to be a better parent, better spouse, better coworker, and better teacher every day. 

Lastly, I love doing any work where I can make a difference. Construction projects are a great example; I love remodeling my bathroom and enjoying the result. It lets me be proud every day, saying “I did that!”

Ready to Give your High School Student a New Level of Opportunity? 

SET High is a tuition-free public school dedicated to supporting every student and every learning style. Serving grades 9 through 12, we offer 1:1 tutoring for every unique student, dual enrollment with Mesa College, and great electives like “Debunking Disney.” Call us today at 858.874.4338 and talk to one of our friendly staff, or visit our website to enroll today.

About SET High 

SET High offers each student individual attention from multi-talented, highly qualified teachers, a healthy camaraderie with classmates and an intellectually rigorous environment that brings out their talents and personality.  With a wide variety of electives, flexible scheduling, dual enrollment college classes and more — our students regularly exceed their academic and personal expectations. Enrolling now!