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May 14, 2013
Northlake’s Eardley named ‘rookie of the year’ for Utah principals

Principal called ‘Truly amazing leader’ contends failure to learn is not an option at his school 

With his second year as principal of Northlake Elementary almost completed, Bryce Eardley has been given a unique distinction.

The Utah Association of Elementary School Principals has named him the “2012-13 Rookie Principal of the Year.”

The award, which is presented annually to a principal in their first three years as an elementary school principal, will be presented to Eardley at the organization’s annual summer conference in June.

“In just two years at Northlake, Bryce has contributed much to the success of the school,” said Leon Jones, principal at Rose Springs Elementary, who nominated Eardley for the award. “It is amazing to see the impact of this Title I school’s achievement already. He is truly an amazing leader.”

Eardley earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Brigham Young University in 2001, and taught school in Craig, Colo. and his hometown of Baker City, Ore., before coming to Tooele in 2009 to be a data mentor for the school district.

Eardley earned a master’s degree in education from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. in 2001 and administrative credentials from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. in 2007.

As the district’s data mentor, Eardley’s job was to help principals and teachers interpret test data to improve instruction.

Eardley only worked as a data mentor for a few months in 2009 before he was assigned to work as an assistant principal at Tooele Junior High School.

After two years at TJHS, Eardley was named principal of Northlake Elementary in August 2011. He took with him a keen interest in using test data to increase student performance.

“He has brought to Northlake a remarkable gift to support teachers in using data,” said Jones. “He has set up data teams at every grade and meets weekly with these teams to support the process in the school’s professional learning community collaborative model.”

Following Eardley’s first year as principal, Northlake’s math and reading achievement scores jumped 5 percent to 77 percent for math and 87 percent for reading.

His leadership methods show that he is more than a data geek.

Eardley, who has learned the name of every student in the school, shaved his head this year as a motivational offer to students to reach a reading goal. They met that goal and earned a  visit by a member of the Utah Jazz.

Eardley also lets students vote on what he wears for a costume to the school’s Halloween dance.

Students have to show up at the dance to see what costume won the vote. So far Eardley has dressed as a mad scientist and a rock star.

Every Monday Eardley reads to students and posts a math story problem outside his office for students to solve to get a prize.

Not learning is not an option at Northlake, according to Eardley.

“Failure can’t be something we are happy with and accept,” he said. “Challenges will always arise. We have to determine the major factors of the failure and work to fix them, not rely on an excuse to make us feel better.”

While Jones said he was inundated with praise for Eardley by his staff, Eardley credits the staff for the school’s success.

“Any success Northlake is having can be directly attributed to the staff,” he said. “I’m very lucky to have a staff that is willing to experiment and give it a go, with all my crazy ideas. They are wonderful.”

Terry Linares, Tooele County School District superintendent, has high praise for Eardley.

“He is a great principal,” she said. “He understands teaching-learning and is real good at implementing interventions to help students succeed.”

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