Bruin Point Principal Leslie Jewkes in her new office.
After 31 years of teaching in the Utah Public School system, Leslie Jewkes has garnered the opportunity to be the newcomer once more. Last week, Jewkes made the jump from fourth grade at Castle Heights to her first administrative job as the new principal of Bruin Point Elementary in Sunnyside. It's something new for both her and the school.
Jewkes received her undergraduate education at the University of Utah before gaining her administrative certifications and degrees at Brigham Young University after several years of teaching. The veteran teacher is not only certified for the administrative slot but has a gifted and talented endorsement from Utah State.
The life-long educator began her teaching career at Durrant Elementary School before leaving to work for a time in Ogden, then coming back to Castle Heights for the past few years. Jewkes has experience in most elementary classrooms and reports a fondness for math and science that should prove invaluable concerning the district's upcoming curriculum change.
Not an easy change, but a welcome one
While the school district has met with criticism over the swift manner in which outgoing Principal Melissa Hamilton was replaced, the report on Jewkes' capability as a replacement has been positive. Hamilton was allowed to stay on at Bruin Point through the end of last week in order to make the student and administrative transition a bit easier.
The newly-minted principal explained during a Friday morning interview at the school that she participated in an administrative internship program which forced her to take the bull by the horns and really participate as a principal. "I had the opportunity to do all the curriculum and all the management work under Boyd Bell at Helper Junior High," explained Jewkes. "When you are a member of the staff that way you get to do a lot more and take on a lot more responsibility."
Jewkes reported that this this type of hands on experience will make the transition from the classroom to the principal's office a little smoother, however, it's not a change she views as easy by any means.
"I'm just now learning about all of the little changes I didn't see before," said Jewkes. "Although the main change I'm sure will be the distance between me and the students. I won't get to spend time with the kids on a daily basis but already here at Bruin I'm learning that Missy (Hamilton) is so involved with the curriculum. The thing I'm most interested in here is following the lead they have started."
As far as her own goals go, Jewkes is ready to take Bruin Point to the next level. "The difference in the way the new common core views thinking through problems is a big plus," explained the new principal. "I was on the district math committee charged with reviewing the core and I support the way the new system is focused on depth rather than trying to hit everything. The math focus will definitely benefit students."
Jewkes reported that there are not many content changes with the new core but instead a fundamental change in the way the content is delivered to students, which she will now be responsible for on a school wide scale.
"I am so excited to be starting here at a smaller school," said Jewkes. She worked at a similar sized institution in Ogden and reported a likeness in feeling between the two institutions. "Size wise we had one of each grade," she explained of the similarity between the two schools. "And because there are only seven teachers here I know I am going to be able to spend time with each grade and get to know all of the students on an individual basis."
With Bruin Point receiving two Title One awards for Adequate Yearly Performance (AYP) testing this year, Jewkes will be charged with a mighty challenge, not to fix something that is broken but to maintain something that works.
"With the staff I have for support here and these great students, I am hopeful for steady gains especially in math," said Jewkes.
As new administrator began to expound on testing she was called to the school's office to deal with her very first parent issue. In the school's small meeting area, Hamilton and school secretary Ricki Palmer sat back and allowed Jewkes to get used to the job.