Blake has announced the appointment of two administrators to the school’s Upper Elementary program, set to launch in the 2023-24 academic year. Serving grades 2-5 the Upper Elementary program and Blake’s Early Learning Center (ELC), serving grades PK-1, will make up the Lower School.

Upper Elementary Director

Tessa McKeown

Tessa McKeown will serve as Blake’s first Upper Elementary director. She will co-lead Blake’s Lower School division with Toya West, ELC director, and begin her role on July 1.

McKeown currently serves as director of lower elementary at Curtis School, where she has championed curriculum development, differentiated instruction, and teacher coaching, collaboration and professional growth.

Prior to Curtis, she served as director of curriculum and instruction at Mirman School, where she chaired a committee charged with evaluating the school’s K-8 curriculum and instruction. 

McKeown holds a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Central Florida and an M.S. in Educational Leadership from NOVA Southeastern University in Florida. 

“With nearly 15 years experience as a lead teacher in first through fourth grade classrooms, Tessa brings deep and diverse experience in independent school leadership, instructional coaching and elementary-level teaching,” says Blake Head of School Anne Stavney. "Tessa’s expertise will be invaluable as we form new second through fifth grade teaching teams and align two campuses’ curricular programs.” 

Upper Elementary Assistant Director

Alanna Wahl

Alanna Wahl, current interim Lower School assistant director at Blake’s Highcroft campus, will become the school’s first Upper Elementary assistant director, beginning on Jan.1.

In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations at Highcroft, Wahl has played an instrumental role as Blake’s on-site coordinator for the Lower School Project. Chief among her duties has been facilitating listening sessions with colleagues and Blake’s ELC design partner HGA. The sessions have been instrumental to the creation of Blake’s new ELC building and its reimaged Upper Elementary spaces.

Before her current roles, Wahl served as chair for Blake’s PK-8 physical education department and also taught PE classes in the Lower School and Middle School. Prior to joining Blake in 2017, she taught physical education courses in the Minnetonka, Edina and Eden Prairie school districts. 

Wahl holds a B.S. in physical education from Minnesota State University, where she earned a full athletic scholarship for women’s basketball. She holds a M.S. in sports management from St. Cloud State University. As a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University in organizational leadership and learning, Wahl is Blake’s inaugural awardee of a program that supports employees who pursue graduate degrees relevant to their current work.  

“Well-known for her superb systems thinking, relationship-building and listening skills, Alanna has deftly overseen day-to-day operations at Highcroft for the past year and a half with ingenuity and confidence,” says Stavney. “Her hands-on, can-do attitude has fostered a culture of collegiality among faculty, staff and parents and a culture of joy among students.”