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The City Journals

Jordan Board appoints first principal to new South Jordan middle school

Mar 05, 2019 03:53PM ● By Julie Slama

In late January, the new unnamed middle school in the Daybreak community was undergoing paint, carpet and millwork, and was ahead of schedule. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The unnamed middle school in the Daybreak community still needs some cabinetry, paint and carpet. Mike Glenn can’t even sit in his office, but the first principal of the new South Jordan middle school already is working — looking at furniture amongst other duties.

On Jan. 15, one week after Jordan Board of Education made its announcement, Glenn, the Oquirrh Hills Middle principal, became principal of the new South Jordan middle school. 

Glenn, who had been principal of Oquirrh Hills the past six years, has experience in opening new schools. After teaching at Mt. Jordan Middle School in Sandy for four years, he moved to South Hills Middle in Riverton when it opened. After three years there and five years at Hillcrest High in Midvale, he spent four years in the Jordan School District office before moving to Herriman High when that school opened in 2010.

“My experiences thus far have shown me that there will be a great need for flexibility and patience,” he said. “Though the building is currently ahead of schedule, we are looking at a projected June first occupancy date.”

Even so, Glenn knows there will be unresolved issues that will require some time after school begins. However, he is upbeat.

“Perhaps the best thing about opening a new school is all the positive energy and excitement that comes with bringing all the students together and creating new traditions,” he said. “Additionally, over the past two decades, I have seen the important role technology can play in the classroom. The new school will open with a strong technology presence. Our goal is to leverage technology to increase student engagement and success.” 

Part of the excitement will be to involve the community through a survey expected to be posted on a Facebook page as well as mailed for feedback with school name suggestions, school colors and a mascot, Glenn said. Traditionally, the school board selects the name from the recommendations, and students help to decide the school colors and mascot.

While the architectural firm already has incorporated colors in the pod design of the building, Glenn hopes the school colors could be painted on pillars or the logo could be included in the floor. He also said the school name, colors and mascot will be part of school shirts.

The school will be a Chinese dual-immersion middle school, Glenn said.

“I picked up a few words (in Mandarin) like hello, thank you and a few phrases while at Oquirrh, but this will give our students who are studying the language the opportunity to continue,” said the native Idahoan who earned his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in French from Brigham Young University. He’s also done graduate work in education at the University of Utah.

Glenn wants to create a student council to open the school year. He said the middle school will have a PTSA student board, intramurals, two levels of band, orchestra and dance as well as social dance and three levels of choir.

Already on board to open the school with Glenn is head secretary Kristine Burge and custodian Brent Gabbitas. Glenn currently is interviewing other personnel and expects 1,000 students when the doors open. 

District Director of Facility Services David Rostrom said the 177,903-square-foot school that sits on 20 acres adjacent to Golden Fields Elementary is on budget at about $29,430,000. 

The design, created by VCBO architectural firm, is the same as Sunset Ridge Middle in West Jordan, with modifications, such as installing a secure vestibule at the main entrance and adjustments in the stairways and learning communities, he said.

The school, under construction by DWA general contractor, will have a maker room, pottery room with a kiln, a career and technical education room where a 3D printer could be used amongst six science rooms, four art rooms, a family and consumer science room for cooking, a dance room, a fitness room, a band room and a choir room. The cafeteria, which seats about 630 students, will have four serving lines and a commons area for students to eat meals. Seating in the auditorium will be for 850 students. The gym will have multiple basketball courts and a track, and to the south of the school, there will be a multi-use sports field.

However, the school won’t be the same traditional building of yesterday. It will feature 70-inch flat panel televisions in classrooms to project a “brighter picture, not a fuzzy” one of projectors, Rostrom said. 

The lights and sound in classrooms also will take on a new look.

“We’re installing daylight harvesting systems that use daylight to offset the amount of electric lighting is needed, so the lights will dim or go off as an energy savings,” he said. “We will use voice enhancement in all 54 classrooms.”

Rostrom said the school building will last students for quite a while.

“We anticipate the life span of the building to be 60 to 70 years, with a mid-life renovation to update the school,” he said. “By then, there could be different lighting, AV, technology, a different or upgraded HVAC. But we expect the core building materials to last to serve our students.”

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey is looking forward to the new middle school. 

“Schools are the heart of our community,” she said. “They affect everyone. This school is much needed in our growing community. We have a fantastic team putting it together and outstanding parent and student support. I’m excited for it to open.”