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Cottonwood Heights Journal

New administrators in Cottonwood Heights schools ready to kick off school year

Jul 30, 2019 02:40PM ● By Julie Slama

This fall, Sandra Dahl-Houlihan, who was the APEX 2014 school administrator of the year when she was Sandy Elementary School’s principal, will become the first female principal to lead Bella Vista Elementary in Canyons School District. (Photo courtesy of Canyons School District)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Bella Vista Elementary students return to school this fall, they will find a new principal, ready to welcome them back.

Sandra Dahl-Houlihan will be the first female principal to lead Bella Vista Elementary under Canyons School District’s jurisdiction.

“It’s really exciting to be back in a school again, to feel the energy of the students and to be in the heart of learning,” she said. She was planning to unpack boxes and “find some tigers to put out.”

Dahl-Houlihan is one of about 25 administrative changes taking place throughout Canyons School District this summer.

Dahl-Houlihan recently was the administrator of evaluations with Canyons School District. She plans to continue as a teacher evaluator alongside being principal. Beforehand, Dahl-Houlihan spent eight years as principal of Sandy Elementary, one as an assistant principal, three as a teacher specialist and 15 in the classroom teaching.

“I didn’t plan on being an elementary principal. I did my administrative internship at both a middle school and elementary school and I fell in love with elementary. I plan to be in the cafeteria and outside on the playground, but first, I want to meet them in the classroom and share time, getting to know them,” she said. “I want every child to be able to learn in a safe environment where they feel they belong. I want to empower our students and staff and give them leadership opportunities.”

Bella Vista is known for its traditions under former Principal Cory Anderson, and Dahl-Houlihan doesn’t want those to stop.

“I love when the community comes to support the schools and want to maintain the traditions. I’d like to see what they are and see what we can add to those,” she said.

That includes meeting students and families who are available Aug. 2 as she will hold a “popsicles with the principal” event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day.

Former Principal Anderson appreciated the Cottonwood Heights community.

“We’re the smallest school in the district; it’s like a real family here,” he said, shortly before packing his boxes to pursue another professional opportunity. “I will really miss the people, the relationships I’ve created, the traditions here.”

At nearby Brighton High, there will be a change in administration as well. Intern administrator Marielle Rawle will become Brighton’s assistant principal as current Brighton Assistant Principal Kelli Miller will assume duties as Alta High’s assistant principal.

As of press deadline, there are no announced administrative changes to any other Cottonwood Heights schools in Canyons District.

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