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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Canyon View principal receives top PTA award

Aug 28, 2017 11:55AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Beloved Canyon View Principal BJ Weller, joined by his family, celebrates as he received the PTA State Outstanding Administrator Award. (BJ Weller/Canyon View Elementary School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

At the end of an assembly announcing the school’s teacher of the year, Canyon View PTA President Rayna Drago said she had one more thing after the principal finished up.

Canyon View Principal BJ Weller didn’t think a thing about it. During his two years at Canyon View, the PTA has been an active group of parent volunteers. Last school year, they kicked off the year by raising $24,000 with their fun run fundraiser that Weller not only participated in, but also provided the incentive of sleeping on the roof if they reached their $20,000 goal.

So he stepped back and handed the microphone to Drago, figuring it was an announcement about an upcoming PTA activity. Weller then went over to Lisa Joko, the teacher who was honored as Teacher of the Year, and took a selfie as Drago announced there was one more award to be given.

While Drago was talking, Weller noticed his family walking toward the front of the assembly, rolling out a banner that was delivered to the school the evening before as Weller was leaving the school.

“I accepted the banner, but never even looked at it,” he said. “I just set it in the office on my way out.”

The banner announced Weller was named the Utah PTA Administrator of the year.

“I was completely surprised,” Weller said afterward. “I didn’t know anything about it until the assembly. It was super touching.”

At the ceremony, he told the students and teachers, “I couldn’t do this without all of you, my family, without great people.”

Drago said in her nomination letter that Weller is a model principal.

“This man exemplifies every aspect of the award — every one,” she said. “His love for his job, his staff and students is beyond measure. Every single day he has a smile on his face and is just a joy to be around.”

She said she wasn’t sure of her expectations of Weller since he was new to the school two years ago.

“Though we were both new to our positions, Mr. Weller took his job and just ran away with it. He would always be open to meet with me and talk to me about what the PTA was doing, what he could do to help and always followed through with what I needed immediately,” she said.

Drago said he always communicated to parents and the community through weekly emails, phone calls, updating the marquee sign and just being available.

“He always has an open door for parents, students and teachers no matter how busy he may be. He is always excited to see parents helping out in the school and wants more of it,” she said.

Weller interacted with the students and families before and after school, in the lunchroom, classrooms and playground.

“He has taken the time to get to know each and every student’s name and learns about each one and who they are, where they came from and any issues they may have,” Drago said. “He is truly concerned for every student and wants to make their time at Canyon View successful and productive yet as fun as can be. He adores his students and cares deeply for each and every one of them. He has brought a sense of family to our school that I did not see when I first came here almost three years ago.” 

She said he makes everyone feel welcome and valued at the school.

“He takes into account everyone’s opinion, which shows such respect he has towards others. Everyone feels so welcome that they are not afraid to express an opinion…they know he will listen to what they have to say with no judgment,” Drago said. She added that Weller does not punish those who have acted poorly, but instead tries to help them succeed and find ways to turn their behavior around in a positive way. 

At the same time, Weller isn’t afraid to let his guard down, Drago said. 

“Being the fun, awesome guy that he is, he makes all our events that much better. The kids love when he is around and he loves to be silly with the students. He wears goofy hats, comes to school on a hover board and has funny costumes he will wear — so silly but we love it,” she said.

Drago decided to return as PTA president because of the cooperation and support she has received from Weller.

“One of the reasons I decided to do two years as PTA president was because I was going to get to work with Mr. Weller again. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity again,” she said.

However, Weller received an appointment for the Canyons School District’s new position, director of responsive services, and announced at the assembly that he wouldn’t return to Canyon View this fall.

“It will bring in my background in social and emotional support work with the team of school counselors, social workers and psychologists to make sure  everyone feels emotionally and socially safe,” Weller said, adding that the team will provide training for teachers and administrators. “I’ve loved every minute of being a principal. I love the kids, the teachers, the parents. We’ve been like a family.”