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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Butler Middle’s principal named top in the state

Jun 24, 2020 11:20AM ● By Julie Slama

Butler Middle School Principal Paula Logan lead a parade through the neighborhood March 27 soon after being named Utah Association for Secondary School’s Middle School Principal of the Year. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

“Education has the power to change the world and middle school is where we can build that foundation.”

Those are the words of Butler Middle School Principal Paula Logan, who not only was applauded as last year’s Canyons School District’s APEX administrator of the year, but also as this year’s Utah Association for Secondary School’s Middle School Principal of the Year.

“I was really surprised and honored; we have amazing administrators across the state,” she said. “In our district, Joanne Ackerman and Mary Anderson have received this honor. They are mentors of mine and it is an honor to be recognized in the same way. They are my heroes. The feeling of being comparable with these remarkable leaders is humbling.”

This comes from an educator who didn’t anticipate becoming an administrator.

“I always wanted to be a teacher. I loved the humor and interaction with my students. I truly loved teaching eighth-grade ELA (English/language arts) and reading. It was a magic time for students as they were just starting to understand how big the world is and how they could impact their own sphere. I wanted students to develop a love for reading and writing and develop confidence in their own abilities. I wanted them to know that with foundational skills, they could do whatever their dream might be. Every day students amazed me with their thinking and idea,” she said.

Logan went on to earn her master’s degree in educational leadership.

“As part of my college program, I participated in the administrative hiring process. I was 31 at the time and really believed the district would say I was too young and try again later. I was astonished to be offered a job as an AP (assistant principal) at Hillcrest High School. I had not anticipated becoming an administrator,” she said. “I love what I do. I truly believe that with planning, training, and effort we can improve the outcomes for students, teachers and our community.”

After six years of serving as assistant principals at both Hillcrest and Jordan high schools, Logan became principal at Midvale Middle where she focused on school culture and building literacy skills. Her team realigned the curriculum to better connect learning for students and brought the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme to the school.

“I love the energy and emotion of the middle school students. If you are ever having a tough day, just a few minutes in the hall at passing time or sitting in a classroom for a few minutes can change everything. Students are amazing and resilient. They are fascinating. I really believe that middle school is our system-wide chance to build a strong foundation and help them prepare for the future. Students are beginning to explore ideas and we can build upon that. It is an exciting and important time of life. I love being a part of that and trying to have staff and structures in place to support our students as they move through adolescence,” she said.

It also is a time when student-teacher connections are key, Logan pointed out.

“Middle school is a difficult time for students. The student-teacher relationship provides stability and is affirming in this tricky time. It can help with a student’s sense of self and sense of belonging. Research indicates that strong student-teacher relationships have a positive impact on engagement, attendance, grades. By connecting to each other and creating a strong school community, we see fewer behavior incidents and lower drop-out rates,” she said.

After seven years at Midvale Middle, she became principal at Butler Middle in 2013. At Butler, Logan helped bring a new schedule and structure for the school when sixth-graders came into middle school and ninth-graders moved to high school.

“It was exciting to learn about how to better meet the needs of sixth-graders and to support parents who were so anxious about their sixth-graders coming to middle school. We have spent a lot of time on teaming, literacy and student-teacher relationships,” she said. “Over the seven years at BMS, we have focused on growth and we have seen great growth in our students and their achievements. I really care about our students and staff and community. Prior to the school dismissal (because of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), we were on track to have the highest reading achievement since we started the six-seven-eight middle school.”

Also prior to “soft closure,” Logan received her state administrator of the year plaque and with the award, was an invited to file an application—complete with five essays about programs and strategies Logan has implemented—to be considered as the national secondary school principal of the year.

However, with the national conference scheduled for September, there’s a possibility it will be held virtually.

“I would be sad about a virtual conference,” Logan said. “The exciting part is to interact and network with leaders across our nation and to share ideas about what is happening in their schools—especially as we are going through this unique time in history, it would be incredible to just share ideas and processes that worked and didn’t work. To be able to listen to the minds of these educators and how they have processed this situation for students, staff, parents and community would be fascinating.”