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Davis Journal

Windridge Elementary’s Casey Pickett is Principal Rookie of the Year

Jul 07, 2022 12:55PM ● By Peri Kinder

Elementary school principals have a long to-do list. They create safe learning environments, shape the vision of academic success, cultivate leadership and find ways to improve instruction. Windridge Elementary’s Principal Casey Pickett nailed it.

Pickett was selected by her peers to receive the Principal Rookie of the Year for Davis County and then went on to win Principal Rookie of the Year for Utah through the Utah Association of Elementary School Principals. 

“It’s so nice to have [that recognition] from the colleagues that you work with,” Pickett said. “It felt really rewarding and it was even better to hear that from my peers.”

Each year, UAESP recognizes principals who demonstrate excellence during the school year. Pickett just completed her third year at Windridge and said she focused on three areas that helped her win the award: The creation of a STEM lab, the school’s Platinum STEM designation and the incorporation of 17 sustainable development goals into STEAM education.

“For the STEM lab, we took apart a computer lab. There were two rooms that I opened up,” she said. “I got a lot of support from the Davis Education Foundation in creating this space for everyone to come and work on STEM or bigger projects.”

Stacy Williams, a third-grade teacher at Windridge, was presented with the Heidi Martin Mighty Heart Educator of Excellence Award in 2019 and given $10K to use at the school. She put that money toward the STEM lab to offer more engagement for students.

“I wanted a place that would be easy and hands-on for kids to be able to come and easily enjoy anything related to STEM,” Williams said. “It gives us the space and opportunities that are much more difficult to do in a smaller cramped classroom. Casey has always 100% supported this vision. She found ways for us to find more money and ideas to support STEM education at Windridge.”

Along with the STEM lab, Pickett organized the creation of an outdoor learning space with projectors and pads for the kids to sit on. 

“We have a garden and we have a greenhouse and we have a composter, all of these things. It’s been so much fun,” Pickett said. 

The Platinum STEM designation, earned through the Utah STEM Action Center, took a bit of time. With less than 20 schools in the state achieving the platinum-level classification, Pickett enlisted a committee of educators to help submit the application. 

“The Utah STEM Action Center is such a great group to work with,” she said. “They really want you to be successful. They really help you through the process. I was able to make some connections with people that helped with my lab and my outdoor classroom, and they kind of all go together.”

Pickett asked teachers at Windridge to incorporate the 17 sustainable development goals into STEAM education. The school partnered with the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program for the STEAM upgrade. BTS helps teachers include art in the STEM curriculum so kids can learn through painting, theater, dance and music, in a variety of ways.

“I love it when teachers can be a little bit more creative and thoughtful about how they want kids to have intentional experiences that are service-oriented and help others and help our community and help our world,” she said.

Before taking the principal role at Windridge, Pickett taught elementary school at Boulton, Taylor and Oak Hills. She served as an assistant principal at Kay’s Creek and Oak Hills for three years, before moving to Windridge. 

For the upcoming school year, Pickett will continue the focus on STEAM and work on literacy concepts and practices.

“We typically have great scores overall at Windridge, but we’re looking at data to find where kids have holes, especially since COVID,” she said. “We want to really zero in on what each child needs in their literacy journey.” λ