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Cottonwood Heights Journal

New faces in Cottonwood Heights area school administrations

Aug 17, 2020 02:55PM ● By Julie Slama

New Bella Vista Principal Eric Gardner will welcome students to school this fall. (Photo courtesy of Canyons School District)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This fall, schools will look different enough with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some students will see changes in their administrators as some retired amidst the soft closure of school and others have moved on to other schools.

In Cottonwood Heights, Eric Gardner will be at the helm at Bella Vista Elementary, replacing Sandra Dahl-Houlihan, who retired.

Gardner, who recently served as Mt. Jordan Middle assistant principal in Sandy, is looking forward to his first job as principal.

“I’m looking forward to working with a younger age group in a small neighborhood school,” he said. “With 250 students, I should know everyone’s names.”

The principal, who taught eight years as a middle school history and math teacher in Georgia, calls his hometown of Peachtree, Georgia, the “home of the golf carts” because of its 100 miles of golf cart paths. He was at Mt. Jordan for seven years.

In his spare time, he is an Ironman triathlete, but currently, he said he just “puts one foot in front of the other” unless he’s running to Crumbl Cookies.

Another upcoming change will be fall 2022 when current Ridgecrest Elementary Principal Julie Winfree opens up the new White City area elementary school. This year, she will continue at Ridgecrest while overseeing the new school as it’s being built.

In the meantime, she’s glad she has the transition time.

“Ridgecrest has my heart and is my family, and I do not like goodbyes, so having two years gives me plenty of time to prepare Ridgecrest for a new leader and ensure that the transition is a smooth one,” Winfree said. “One of my favorite things (about Ridgecrest) is the amazing community that exists. Our community is so supportive and involved. The staff is a great big family that wants the very best for students.” 

At Brighton, students will see Ryan Durrant as the new assistant principal. He had served as Jordan High’s assistant principal.

There also will be a change of assistant principals at Butler Middle. Doug Hallenbeck, current assistant principal, will become CTEC’s assistant principal, and the school will welcome Dan Ashbridge to the vacant post. He has been a teacher specialist in the instructional support department at the district office.

Other Canyons administrative appointments include Deidre Walbeck, currently Copperview Elementary assistant principal becoming Oakdale Elementary principal, replacing Lori Jones, who retired; Carolee Mackay, a Sandy Elementary achievement coach who will become Copperview Elementary’s assistant principal; Crystal Conners, a Jordan High achievement coach becoming Mt. Jordan Middle’s assistant principal; Midvale Elementary Principal Chip Watts being transferred to Draper Park Middle principal, replacing Mary Anderson, who retired; Sprucewood Principal Lori Reynolds being transferred to be Midvale Elementary principal; Edgemont Elementary Principal Cathy Schino being transferred to Sprucewood Elementary as principal and Michelle Snarr will be placed as interim principal at Edgemont Elementary; Copperview Elementary Assistant Principal Shawn Walker being named as Sandy Elementary principal; Cassie Kapes, a teacher specialist in the instructional support department, being promoted to Copperview Elementary assistant principal; Diamond Ridge Principal Amy Boettger also will serve as Canyons Virtual High School principal; Kim Baker, a longtime public-school administrator, appointed to be the secondary human resources administrator; and intern assistant principals Dina Kohler, Sierra Segura and Connie Simons being promoted to assistant principals at their respective schools: Jordan, Mt. Jordan and Midvale Middle.