Ben Lomond High principal wins state recognition as a Principal of the Year

Tuesday , January 30, 2018 - 5:00 AM2 comments

OGDEN — Dale Wilkinson says he is glad his decision of becoming an educator “worked out.”

The Ben Lomond High principal was named one of the 2018 Utah Secondary Principals of the Year, an award presented Monday, Jan. 29, by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals.

Roughly 30 years ago, Wilkinson was working for his father’s insurance company. The company was sold and Wilkinson realized he needed to do something else.

One of his friends asked him if he would be interested in becoming Ogden High’s assistant basketball coach. His mother suggested he become a teacher.

“I had no intention of being an educator,” Wilkinson said. He really wanted to be a basketball coach.

He accepted a teaching offer at Sand Ridge Junior High and the coaching position at Ogden High. After one year at Sand Ridge, the Ben Lomond Class of 1996 graduate started teaching at Ogden High.

“It was a little bit weird to come from Ben Lomond to Ogden High,” Wilkinson said.

In 2013, Wilkinson became the principal of Ben Lomond High.

“We have a very different culture right now that what we had five years ago,” Wilkinson said.

According to numbers provided by the Utah State Board of Education, Ben Lomond High’s graduation rates have increased by seven percentage points, from 76 percent in 2016 to 83 percent in 2017.

Ogden School District Superintendent Rich Nye said in a statement that Wilkinson’s hard work in the school has contributed to the increase in graduation rates.

“The efforts to improve the academic, social, and emotional outcomes of our students are realized in Mr. Wilkinson’s ability to build positive relationships with his students,” Nye said. “Our students know that Mr. Wilkinson genuinely cares about them as individuals.”

West Jordan Middle School Principal Dixie Garrison and Albion Middle School Assistant Principal Sandy LeCheminant were also awarded with the Secondary Principals of the Year award.

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Due to other commitments Wilkinson will not be able to compete for the national title, according to the news release. Instead, Garrison of West Jordan Middle School will represent the state.

Wilkinson’s 30-year journey in the education system in Utah has been one with many experiences. At one point in his career, he served as principal of Odyssey Elementary.

“I found out when I went to the elementary (school) that I understood very little about student behavior, teaching, discipline,” Wilkinson said. “I’m a proponent that every administrator should spend some time on elementary (schools).”

And working with high schoolers as an assistant principal at the beginning was not easy for him either.

“(As an assistant principal), you deal with a lot of conflict every single day and that was really hard because I don’t really like conflict,” WIlkinson said. “It took me two years for an angry parent or an angry student (to) not ruin my day.”

Now as principal of Ben Lomond High, he attributes his success to his “amazing staff” and his students.

“I’ve had an incredible career, I’ve had incredible mentors, I’ve made great friends, I’ve learned so much about people and about compassion,” Wilkinson said. “Any good thing that I’ve had in my career is because of the people around me.”

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

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