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Utah/s principal influence

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Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 12:00 am

Some principals spend the school day in their office and only make appearances for faculty meetings or assemblies. Not Mount Logan Middle School Principal Dan Johnson.

"Where I came from, you never saw the principal," said alternative middle school teacher Scott Belnap, who taught for 11 years in Las Vegas before joining the faculty at Mount Logan this year. "Dan is always saying /Thanks for being here./ That means so much."

Johnson, who was named Utah/s Secondary Principal of the Year on Tuesday by the Utah State Board of Education, can often be found in the halls talking to students or in the classrooms with the teachers.

Executive Secretary Elsa Akina has worked with Johnson for six years, and has seen the affects of Johnson/s supportive leadership and camaraderie with the faculty.

"He makes you feel like you are the number-one priority even though there are a million other people there," Akina said. "He pushes you. He sees potential in every individual and builds upon it."

Belnap agreed.

A lot of times principals distance themselves from the teachers, creating a sense of division between administration and the faculty. Johnson goes out of his way to make sure that is not the case at Mount Logan, Belnap said.

"He makes you feel like the most important person here," Belnap said. "That/s vital to the staff. That means more to me than money."

Logan City School District Superintendent Richard Jensen praised Johnson for his leadership and commitment to providing a quality education for students and a superior work environment for teachers.

Over the years, Johnson has applied for numerous grants to help fund everything from classroom computers to the district/s after-school programs.

"He is just an outstanding administrator that is sensitive about teachers and their needs," Jensen said.

Akina said there isn/t anything Johnson wouldn/t do for the students, faculty and staff at Mount Logan Middle School. He comes in early and stays late, applies for grants and other federal and state money to implement programs and purchase materials and encourages teachers to follow suit.

"He never asks anything of anybody that he wouldn/t do himself or hasn/t done himself," Akina said.

When the building was being renovated several years ago, Akina remembers Johnson coming in on a Saturday to help with last-minute projects before school opened.

"There he was in his neatly pressed jeans and shiny shoes," Akina joked.

Johnson is known for his meticulous attire 77 usually a suit and a tie on school days.

Little things like that are what make Johnson such a great principal, Akina said. She knows Johnson/s catch phrase by heart: "Because it/s the right thing to do."

"Whether it/s for the kids or staff," Akina said, "he always does the right thing."

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