I have a very distinctive memory from high school sitting in my AP Psychology class next to the overhead projector and the warm air was blowing directly onto me. While trying to stay awake I remember trying to focus on Mr. Hirsche my teacher who was talking about brain development. He was using a pre-written transparency and slowly removing the paper covering it to show the new sections. While I was in a state of comatose I remember thinking that “being a teacher has to be the worst job in the entire world! You talk about the same thing 8 times a day and nothing ever changes.”
Karma must have a sense of humor because 10 years later I would be on the verge of graduating from college with a degree in Business/Marketing Secondary Education. The high schooler who thought being a teacher would be the worst job was trying to become a teacher. But being a teacher wasn’t my end goal, becoming a high school administrator was my #goal. I knew I wanted to be a high school principal because growing up my Dad was a high school principal at Independence High School. He was there for 15 years and I have many great memories spending time with him at the school.
My first teaching job was in North Ogden at Weber High School. There I was able to teach four different classes and help coach the baseball team. My time there was short lived though because we wanted to move closer to family so I accepted a job at Riverton High School in Riverton, Utah. This move would turn out to be career changing.
Shortly after taking the job at Riverton High I was talking education with my uncle (who is a secondary administrator) and he mentioned an upcoming conference held by Solution Tree about PLCs. While I was familiar with PLCs, I was by no means an expert. My uncle said that if I had the chance to attend the conference I should go. As luck would have it that a few weeks later during a faculty meeting, my principal Carolyn Gough, said that she would be taking a group of teachers to Solution Tree PLCs conference in Salt Lake City and if anyone was interested to please see her after the meeting. As soon as the meeting ended I was the first one there expressing my interest in attending the conference.
Without trying to sound dramatic, my attendance at the conference changed my trajectory forever in education. I was able to meet new friends, like Jim Groethe, with whom I could explore new ideas and theories in education. I met Mike Mattos, who opened my eyes to what could be done in education. Who empowered me to respond to the naysayers who say education is broken and we cannot fix it. Robert Eaker, who introduced me to standard based grading (something I had never heard of before), and was willing to share his ideas and answer my many questions.
These experiences fueled my desire to become an administrator like never before. I was witnessing first hand through my principal Carolyn Gough, the power that could come through empowering the faculty with clear vision and goals. I wanted to do the same!
As soon as was possible I enrolled at Utah State University in their Instructional Leadership program and completed the two-year program in one year. I wanted to become a principal and wanted to get started as soon as possible. It was only through the amazing support of my wife and kids that I was able to do it. Which involved my wife holding down the fort while I lived in a pop-up trailer for 4 weeks during the summer to attend classes in Brigham City.
After finishing the degree I applied to the administrative pool in Jordan School District (my district). I received a call shortly thereafter from the Director of HR informing me that I did not have enough years teaching to be accepted in the pool and she hoped I would apply the next year. That was a crushing blow and had me looking elsewhere for an administrative position. Luckily, nothing happened that year, and I was able to secure an administrative position in my district the following year. Initially, my placement was at Eastlake Elementary School, but I was fortunate to receive placement at Herriman High School where I am currently an assistant principal.
Looking back on my path, it’s ironic that a son of an educator never wanted to be in education. However, once pursued, I am more fulfilled than I ever imagined possible and I wouldn’t change a thing.