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Midvale Journal

Administrators new to Midvale schools, ready to welcome students

Jul 31, 2018 02:40PM ● By Julie Slama

Former East Midvale Principal Justin Pitcher, seen here during a 2017 fun run, will become Brighton High’s assistant principal. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

When students walk through the doors of East Midvale Elementary, they won’t see the same familiar principal who has greeted them the past few years and has run alongside them in the school’s fun run.  

Instead, the East Midvale Eagles will be welcomed by Matt Nelson, the former Viewmont and Grant elementary schools’ principal in Murray School District. 

Nelson, who also taught in Murray District, isn’t a stranger to Canyons School District as his children are enrolled in Canyons schools and he has supported programs in the district. 

“Canyons is a progressive district, so I see this as a great fit,” he said.

Nelson, who replaces Justin Pitcher who will become Brighton High’s assistant principal, is one of several Canyons School District administrators reassigned to new positions this fall.  

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the community and putting some roots down. I’m excited to highlight the diversity and strengthen the culture of our school,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to the school’s annual Living Traditions night. 

Already, through meeting community members, he has learned there is a great amount of pride for the community school, which offers a safe learning environment for students. 

“The children want to be here and there is a fun and energetic faculty who provide instruction and support,” he said. 

Nelson also has been known to support student achievement, whether it’s dying his hair blue for a reading goal, creating a slip-and-slide out of shaving cream for a silent auction or being decorated as a Christmas tree to promote good behavior. 

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the kids, whether it’s at lunch or on the playground,” said the former high school soccer midfielder who was planning to watch World Cup soccer this summer.   

Amongst the many things East Midvale offers is a garden, which struck a chord with Nelson as he and another teacher developed a partnership with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department to create a garden where students would plant and harvest vegetables that could be served at school. Later, as a principal at another school, he teamed up with an Eagle Scout and his own dad to create a garden for that community. 

Coming to Hillcrest High as assistant principal is Matt Schelble, who served at Brighton.

“I’m excited to go to Hillcrest,” he said. “It’s an excellent school, with a diverse student population, great faculty and a fine arts program that is like no other. Brighton was my first job in Canyons School District, so I learned the ropes there and will bring that experience to Hillcrest.” 

Schelble, who likes to ski, fish and camp, is looking forward to building Hillcrest’s athletic program and helping students with their academic programs. 

Current Hillcrest High assistant principal Justin Matagi will serve at Albion Middle School as assistant principal. 

“I’m going to miss teen life as students make plans to attend college,” Matagi said. “It’s fun to listen to them make college plans and ask me to impart words of wisdom. It’s been nice knowing they are at the finish line with graduation and valuing their education.” 

Matagi said he will miss Hillcrest’s caliber of students and the amazing opportunities he has had accompanying students at competitions—most recently, with the instrumental groups tour of San Diego. 

Nearby, Midvale Elementary Assistant Principal Matt Watts will slide over to Midvale Middle as an assistant principal, assuming the position of Kip Carlsen, who accepted a position in Granite School District. Before serving at Midvale Elementary, Watts was an assistant principal at Mt. Jordan Middle for eight years. 

“I miss middle school; that is where my heart and passion is,” he said. “I love that age group where I can make a big impact, joke around with and help make the change. I love Midvale Elementary and can see the difference made with this age group. I think it will help that I’ve been at Midvale Elementary and will get to reconnect with students when they come to Midvale Middle. I love this community.” 

It’s the relationships Watts has within the community that he sees will help students and their families. 

“Knowing teachers, parents, administrators and students will help with the transition and making connections and bridges with our families,” he said, adding that he also can pull in practices he’s learning in his educational leadership policy doctorate program.  

Current Canyons District Responsive Services specialist Ashley McKinney will replace Watts at Midvale Elementary as assistant principal and Midvale Middle achievement coach Sara Allen will serve as Butler Middle assistant principal. 

Other administrative appointments throughout the district include East Sandy Elementary achievement coach Lori Reynolds being hired as Sprucewood Elementary principal as current principal Colleen Smith will become a Canyons School District Responsive Services Program administrator. Albion Middle Assistant Principal Scott Jameson will become Alta View Elementary principal as current principal Karen Medlin will retire.