Reconnecting with Former Faculty: Ron Knepper

In this edition of the Alumni Newsletter, we are excited to introduce a new feature geared toward catching up with former faculty members who helped shape the Sierra Canyon experience over the years. Through these candid conversations, we hope to provide a glimpse into the continuing journeys of those who dedicated themselves and their careers to the SC community. Below, we catch up with Ron Knepper, an artistic innovator who spent 12 unforgettable years in the Art Department on the Upper Campus.

Mr. Knepper: Artist in Residence at Sierra Canyon
For over a decade, Ron Knepper (Knep to many former Trailblazers) brought his brand of artistic magic to Sierra Canyon. From 2008 through 2020, he molded budding artists on the Upper Campus, sparking creativity in Sculpture, Ceramics, and Drawing & Painting. He even oversaw the production of the SC Yearbook for a few of those years.

Life Today: Art, Family and Remission
After contracting Multiple Myeloma Cancer and receiving Stem Cell Treatment a little more than three years ago, Mr. Knepper left Simi Valley and returned to his hometown in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Now in remission, he continues to inspire as a Limited Term Lecturer (Adjunct Professor) at Purdue University. There, he has taught Drawing Fundamentals, Painting Fundamentals, Art Appreciation, Introduction to 2D Design, and Advanced Sculpture. This past year, he was awarded the Limited Term Lecturer Annual Award from the Visual Arts Department and the Dean of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Amid lectures and workshops, Mr. Knepper has found immense enjoyment in another one of his latest titles—Grandfather. This past year he’s been to NYC twice to spend time with two of his young grandchildren and visit his youngest daughter and son-in-law.

Though handicapped after his diagnosis, his lectures and family visits don't keep him from his true passion for creating beautiful art. Locally, he continues to exhibit, showing his original works at several events in the past 2 ½ years.

On another personal note, Mr. Knepper tells us that recently, Millie, his canine buddy of many years, passed away. Many former students and faculty may remember her well. Luckily, a couple of years ago, Knep and Millie added Dora, an Australian Kelpie puppy, to their household. Although we can imagine how much Milile is missed, Mr. Knepper says she did a fantastic job of training Dora and sees that as her final gift to him.

Sierra Canyon Memories
As for what he misses most about SC? It's hard to choose, "I truly miss my very active time at SC. The students were so passionate about their creative studies, and the families were supportive in so many ways. I had many colleagues I was very close to, and when I contracted Multiple Myeloma, they were right there for me. They were so supportive through my hospitalizations and healing time."

Mr. Knepper also played a large role in the beginning of our International Studies Program, acting as one of the founding host parents for the School. He also enjoyed cooking and baking and would frequently bring in food to share with colleagues.

One thing he doesn't miss about living in Simi Valley – fire season!

Sierra Canyon's Early Days
Back in the early days, Mr. Knepper fondly recollects the pride he felt in being part of a vibrant and creative campus where innovation was flourishing. He was instrumental in SC artists gaining entry to the Annual High School Exhibition at CSUN, where, for a number of years, SC was consistently at the forefront of the event.

Mr. Knepper also has some pretty funny memories of the Senior Pranks from the early days. . . however, we are not permitted to disclose the details of these events in this newsletter!

Peak Weeks are another highlight for Knep. From a small but great adventure to the Bay Area to a snowy escapade in NYC, each trip was a story in itself. International journeys to Paris with Madame and Mick (Horwitz) were artful adventures like no other. For Knep, the students' enthusiasm made it all worthwhile. "Peak Week for me was one of the most incredible offerings at SC, and I am so happy I was part of it for 12 years."

Trailblazing into the Future
Mr. Knepper advises current and former Trailblazers to always follow their passion and dreams in life. “It's impossible to know where life will take you, so be open to its adventures. Not everything may seem wonderful at times, but your experiences only make you stronger." He hopes specifically that SC alums maintain their connections with one another throughout their lives. "One never knows when something they become involved in might warrant a past connection with renewed association to see that venture come to fruition."

 Sierra Canyon: Where Community is the Cornerstone
It’s safe to say that Sierra Canyon will always hold a special place in Mr. Knepper's heart, just as he does in the hearts of countless students, faculty, and administrators. "I have only had two places that felt like family in my life. One was The Fort Wayne Art Institute, which no longer exists. The other was SC."

We’re pleased to report that Mr. Knepper says he would love to come back for a visit someday! He tells us that a workshop, Alumni Happy Hour, or faculty reunion would be a joy for him to attend, and we are going to hold him to it! If you would like to get in touch with him, he welcomes your correspondence at knepperstudios@aol.com.

In the grand tapestry of Sierra Canyon, Mr. Knepper's legacy is one of true artistry and the enduring bonds that define our community through good and bad. Thank you for all of your time, effort, and inspiration, Mr. Knepper! You truly made Sierra Canyon a more beautiful place!
Lower School: 11052 Independence Avenue
Middle and Upper School: 20801 Rinaldi Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311  | 818.882.8121
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.