Giving back to Carbon Co.
Your Principals is a regular series of articles focusing on the area's elementary, junior high, high school and alternative education leaders.
In a world where people find it difficult to stay in one place for very long, Jan Cox, principal of Castle Heights Elementary School, is a rare exception.
Born and raised in Price, she was a product of the Carbon County County School District, and she is now giving back to that entity a hundredfold, having given 25 years, so far, to the cause of local education.
"I guess my desire to pursue education came first from my father, who was a teacher," Cox said. "But I had some great instructors, as well. I especially remember my first grade teacher and my high school biology and chemistry teachers, too.
"They made a huge impact on my life. They made learning fun for me. That was very important to me. I wanted to be that kind of influence on my students."
After graduating from Utah State University (in Logan), she began her career in the district, beginning as a classroom aide in Sunnyside. Along the way, Cox held teaching and administrative positions at Mont Harmon Junior High, Carbon High and the Lighthouse Alternative School, among others.
She began her Castle Heights experience three years ago and has since fallen in love with the students and staff.
"This is a wonderful place to work," she said. "Everyone here has a positive attitude and a really high energy level. There's a real sense of family and accountablity here. We try to balance the education of the whole child, we cannot lose that aspect."
Cox is also excited about Castle Heights' incorporation of arts and science into the curriculum, saying, "There's a real excitement towards learning here. We teach the basics, of course, but we want to give students an even higher learning curve.
"Some might say I'm the face of this school, but the heart and soul is the staff, from the custodians to the nutrition people to the counselors and teachers, from top to bottom this is the most diverse, dedicated and hard-working staff I've ever been associated with. You could not ask for a better group of people to work with."
In light of the rapid advancement in technology, Cox indicated that most of the pupils, as well as many of the younger teachers are "hard-wired" (tech saavy).
"We had to learn a lot from them about those things," she added. "You're never too old or too much of a veteran to learn new ideas and concepts."
There are currently 25 teachers and approximately 485 students at Castle Heights Elementary.
"It's hard to know 486 names, but I think I recognize all of their faces. I'm trying very hard."
Cox claims her favorite part of the job is greeting students and staff each morning, but is saddened by the realization of what some children go home to each day.
"Some kids are dealing so much with issues at home, there heads are too full to learn anything."
Asked what she wanted her tenure to be remembered as, Cox said, "I want this to have been a place where people felt welcome. A warm and friendly place of academic excellence. That it was fun for kids and parents alike to come here."