New Principal At Ridgecrest Elementary SchoolSep 10, 2015 05:47PM ● By Bryan Scott
By Lauren Casper
Ridgecrest Elementary School welcomes Principal Julie Winfree for the upcoming school year. Winfree has a diverse background in the education field spanning 20 years.
In the Canyons School District she has taught first, fourth and fifth grades at Lone Peak and Draper Elementary, worked as an achievement coach at Butler and Peruvian Park Elementary Schools, and spent time in the district office working on implementation of the new report cards as well as the French dual immersion program.
Winfree has been working this summer to get the school ready for the students’ return.
“Our school is growing. We are enrolling more and more kids, and we need places to put them,” Winfree said.
Originally planning to have a portable, Winfree has spent considerable time rearranging the building and has managed to fit everyone inside. Winfree has also been getting specialists organized for the Brain Boosters program and preparing a master schedule for the year. She has hired five new teachers and three new aides that she is excited to welcome to the school.
Winfree recognizes that as a principal it may be difficult to meet the needs of all the different groups she interacts with, including the teachers, students, parents and others.
“I always like a challenge,” she said, adding that she is looking forward to the “energy of being back in a building. I missed that being in the district office. I’m excited for the daily contact with the students and teachers.”
In addition to the duties every school requires of its principal, Ridgecrest poses the additional challenge of being a Chinese dual immersion school.
“I think my background working with the dual immersion programs in the district office is probably what landed me here at Ridgecrest. I always thought I was an organized person, but I am learning quickly to get organized,” Winfree said.
The program has lots of pieces that need to be planned and handled, and “meeting the needs of the international teachers in the building is a special challenge that I take very seriously,” she said.
In her short time at Ridgecrest, thus far, Winfree has been so impressed with the staff.
“Teri Mattson, the previous principal here at Ridgecrest, was such an incredible leader. I want to keep what she built going,” Winfree said.
She has been especially appreciative of the kindness and flexibility the teachers have displayed with the rearranging of the building.
“We have a community here in the school. Everyone works so hard. They are caring and welcoming. I feel lucky to have a staff that is willing to work with me and do what’s best for the kids,” she said.
Winfree is optimistic about the upcoming school year. She plans to “focus on improving test scores. Our goal is to get all kids to benchmark.” In order to do that, she says they will look at the school as a whole, diving deeper into the data to see how they can help each student. She is excited about the district’s new Brain Boosters program and the time it will give teachers to do just that.
Under the leadership of Winfree, Ridgecrest Elementary is ready for a new year. Winfree is thrilled to be at Ridgecrest and ready for the challenges she will face.
“The parents and the community have been great,” she said. “It will be a great year! The Cottonwood Heights community has such a great partnership with schools. It’s really impressive how much they care and how involved they are. I am so excited to be a part of that.”