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South Jordan Journal

New administrative faces to greet students as school begins

Aug 30, 2017 11:00AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Principal Cathy Anderson, seen by the Jordan Ridge Eagles quilt, retired from Jordan Ridge Elementary this summer. (Susan Raines/Jordan Ridge Elementary School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan students may see a new principal or assistant principal as they return to their classrooms this school year.

Jordan School District recently announced administrative changes for the 2017–2018 school year.

“These educators were chosen for administrative roles because of their leadership qualities increasing achievement and growth in learning for students and adults,” said Superintendent Patrice Johnson.

First-time principal Melissa Beck already welcomed Jordan Ridge’s year-round students.

“I taught high school science, but when I had my internship at the elementary level, I learned my heart was with here with the little ones,” she said. “I had last year to learn the curve from secondary to elementary school, so I’m familiar with this age and what is offered at this level, but each school is different. I’m looking forward to learning from teachers, staff and students about this school culture—its traditions, mission, goals.”

Beck, who was an assistant principal last year at Rose Creek, Riverton and Bluffdale elementaries, said she already is grateful to be principal at Jordan Ridge.

“There already have been so many acts of kindness here,” she said. “The PTA, staff and parents understand it takes a village to raise kids. It’s a tight community where people volunteer and donate. It’s a positive, warm atmosphere.” 

Beck, who wants to learn all the students’ name and something about them, said there are a couple changes this year, such as incorporating music and drama through the Beverly Taylor Sorenson ARTS Learning Program grant they received. Students this year will have a rotation of music one week and drama the next.

Another addition will be to recognize two students per classroom as leaders of the month.

“It may not be the one who receives the top score but ones who are showing leadership traits, working hard and are making proactive choices,” she said.

Beck also will welcome new students who transfer to the school, or those who leave the school, a book with the school bookmark and a message from her inscribed. 

“We want students to know they’re valued and we’re thinking about them,” she said.

Beck, who has a dachshund with a “lover personality,” earned her master’s degree from Brigham Young University in educational leadership. She replaces Catherine Anderson, who retired.

Daybreak students will be somewhat familiar with their principal, Kristy Whiteside, who became principal Jan. 31 after Doree Strauss, who was Daybreak’s only principal in the school’s history, left to help open a new school, Bastian Elementary School, in Herriman.

Whiteside grew up in upstate New York, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education. She holds a second master’s degree in administrative leadership from the University of Phoenix.

She has taught 13 years, including at Oquirrh, Copper Canyon and Heartland elementaries and has spent six years in administration, including being an assistant principal at South Jordan, Daybreak and Welby elementaries.

“I spent a year here one year ago, so I knew students and faculty, so making the transition was great, and everyone welcomed me back,” said Whiteside, who said she was inspired to move to Utah for the great skiing. 

With the transition of the school to a traditional calendar, Whiteside is overseeing a few other changes, such as remodeling the front doors for security and eliminating portable classrooms since a boundary change with the opening of new schools reduced the enrollment to 700 students.

Whiteside also will introduce radKIDS to the school. radKIDS is a 10-hour national personal empowerment safety education program designed for children age 5 through 13 that emphasizes decision-making skills as well as physical resistance options to escape violence. It is taught by volunteers who have received intensive training from radKIDS, and they instruct students in three main points: one, nobody has the right to hurt you; two, you don’t have the right to hurt anyone else; and three, if someone hurts you, it’s not your fault, and you can tell a trusted adult.

“It’s more than stranger danger. They’ll address cyber bullying, safety, prevention education and so much more,” she said, adding that the school Parent-Teacher Association and Student Community Council are backing the program.

“We are making changes based on our community’s feedback,” she said. “We want our students to feel and be safe and have a positive experience at school.”

In addition to those principal changes, there are several new elementary school assistant principal appointments. These include Kristie Howe at Eastlake replacing Lisa Jackson, who is going to Southland; Abram Yospe at Welby and Midas Creek, replacing Lauren Goodsell, who will be at Westland; Cathryn Ford will be coming to Elk Meadows and Monte Vista; Tiffany Cooke, who was at Jordan Ridge and South Jordan will be at Bluffdale; and Shauna Worthington, who was at Daybreak will go to Blackridge and Foothills.

Also, John Vincent was assistant principal at West Jordan High will be the new assistant principal at Bingham High, replacing Mike Hughes, who is going to West Hills Middle School.