SANDY — A Canyons School District principal has been named Utah's top middle school leader.

Union Middle School Principal Mary Anderson is the 2013 Utah Middle School Principal of the Year. The honor was announced on Wednesday by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals and awarded to Anderson by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove.

Anderson, a former gymnastics coach, was selected for her outstanding leadership, educational innovations, and masterful use of data to improve student achievement, particularly for those who are struggling in reading and math, according to a press release.

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Under her leadership, Union Middle School has established Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports framework and small intervention classes that focus on each student's specific needs.

"Mary deftly employs the use of data to inform her decisions … and to support effective problem solving on the part of her Building Leadership Team and the Professional Learning Communities at her school," said Hollie Pettersson, Canyons District director of Evidence-Based Learning in Secondary Schools, in nominating Anderson for the award.