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Davis Journal

Mori born and bred in Davis School District

Jun 17, 2021 01:19PM ● By Becky Ginos

Members of the Davis School District and children at Endeavor Elementary surprise Vanessa Mori with the announcement that she has been named Utah Principal of the Year. Courtesy

FARMINGTON—Vanessa Mori has loved education since she was little. That love inspired her to become a teacher herself and now the new principal of Davis Connect, the district’s online school. She was recently honored for her contributions by being named the Utah National Distinguished Principal of the Year and will represent the state at the national level.

“My mother taught in the Davis District for 40 years,” said Mori. “I went to school here. Even later when I was in high school I started tutoring in elementary classrooms.”

Mori got her degree in elementary education at Weber State and taught first, fourth and sixth grades. “I love technology so I had the opportunity to co-teach as a technology teacher in fourth, fifth and sixth grade and show students how to use basic programs for half the day and then the other half teach fourth grade.”

She became the school tech specialist for three different schools and taught them how to integrate it into their curriculum. “Then my dream job opened up,” she said. “I got to teach tech to other educators. It was so much fun. I taught them how to use tech in the classroom.”

All the while Mori was pursuing her master’s and became an assistant principal then a principal.  “I helped open up Bluffdale Elementary,” she said. “The school had all kinds of new tech.”

Then she became principal at Endeavor Elementary and that’s where she has been until being named Administrator and Director of K-12 Davis Connect. “Endeavor was already on the path with technology,” Mori said. “They had the tools, STEM and tech programs. I got to carry that on. The teachers were already proficient in it so when the pandemic hit it wasn’t a huge shock. They were already using the tech tools and the kids already knew how to navigate it more easily.”

Mori said she’s always loved technology so when the opportunity came up with Davis Connect it seemed like the perfect fit. “It was the next step in my career. Kids have become so proficient and they have that skill set. It met a need and created an option for parents and students.”

Davis Connect went from 100 students to 6,100 students, she said. “A lot of students have continued because they enjoy it. If students want to go face-to-face that’s good too. Whatever meets their needs.”

Her goal is to make it the best online school it can be. “We want to connect with students in creative ways. We have mentors who pace themselves with students to make sure they can be successful. We’ll continue to build on Canvas and make it easier to navigate. We just want to connect with kids.”

Just because it is an online school doesn’t mean they can’t meet in person as well, said Mori. “We’ll have field trips and we have a partnership with South Clearfield Elementary to use their STEM studio so teachers can go there to teach some STEM centered lessons. We’ll also offer it online at the same time as they’re teaching in person. They should have every opportunity that in person has.”

Mori was selected out of some 600 principals and will represent the state at nationals in the fall. “I’m so grateful for the people who have shared their ideas and leadership qualities that I aspire to,” she said. “I have so much gratitude for the entire community for being flexible and understanding. It’s been a tough year. I can think of so many families who have been supportive of teachers. I think this has given people more understanding about what a teacher does. They’re hardworking, amazing professionals.”