New Creekview Principal John Thomas with the school symbol, the Creekview Brave. He began teaching in Ibapah, Tooele County.
Compared to where new principal John Thomas began teaching more than 20 years ago, Creekview Elementary is a huge school in a major metropolitan area. His first job was at the Ibapah School in Tooele County, close to the Nevada border, halfway between Wendover and nowhere.
It was a K-6 elementary, with a total student body of 25 to 30 students, mainly Native Americans from the Goshute Reservation. A teacher in that situation fills many needs, including administration. As he added years of experience in the classroom to his training from Utah State University, he moved on to bigger schools in the Tooele District.
While he was working, he earned a Master in Education degree from Grand Canyon University, and in March of this year he added another master's degree in Education Administration from Western Governors University. With those credentials, he decided he was ready to apply for the principal's job at Creekview, and he got it. He's happy about that.
"It's usually a lot of work coming to a new school and getting ready for the school year to begin," said the principal. "But when you move into a smooth-running school like this one, it's a lot easier. I'm impressed."
It is the collaboration among teachers that is most impressive, he explained. Thomas complimented Joan Atwood, his predecessor who is now Director of Elementary Education for the district, for her organizational and personnel skills in team building.
The other thing he appreciates is moving into a smaller community and school district. He said Tooele was getting too big, adding eight new elementary schools recently. "There are only five in this whole district and that makes it easier to collaborate than with 16," he explained.
Thomas said he has seen lots of changes over the years, especially advances in teaching reading and writing skills. Rather than teach these topics as separate subjects, reading and writing are integrated in all subjects across the curriculum.
The other big change has been the shift to national achievement standards from state or district. It is good to have standards in education, and the fact that all students must be brought to certain skill levels at each grade does not eliminate the need for individual teacher talent or imagination. "Students need the individuality and personality of teachers. Otherwise we'd have robots teaching," he said.
His immediate goal as principal is simply to keep a good thing going. "Mrs. Atwood did a really good job here. The gifted and talented programs and collaboration among teachers are outstanding. Student needs are being met very well," he concluded.