Three Utah administrators named secondary principals of the year

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8 2014 12:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Administrators from Herriman High School, Orem Junior High School and Union Middle School were named the 2014 Utah Secondary Principals of the Year on Wednesday.

Principals James Birch of Herriman High and Joseph Jensen of Orem Junior High, as well as Assistant Principal Douglas Hallenbeck of Union Middle, received the awards from the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals during a ceremony in Salt Lake City. The three men will now go on to compete in the National Principal of the Year competition, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Birch has served as principal of Herriman High School since the school opened in 2010, according to the Utah State Office of Education. He created the Herriman Institute for Teachers as a mentoring program for new educators.

"He realizes that we are not a school that employs adults; rather, we teach students," Herriman High teacher Jess Gomez said in a prepared statement.

Jensen has been principal of Orem Junior High School since 2009 and is known for his focus on professional learning communities and data-informed instruction.

"He has changed the culture of Orem Junior High by using compelling data, holding everyone at the school to high expectations and tirelessly working to improve student achievement,” Alpine School District Superintendent Vernon Henshaw said in a statement.

Hallenbeck is known for his interest in expanding technology into the classrooms of Union Middle School. According to Principal Joanne Ackerman, Hallenbeck makes an effort to regularly work with both students and faculty to improve outcomes.

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