Congratulations to Maridee Harrison, Polk and Taylor Canyon Elementary principal, for being honored with Ogden School District's October Achieving Higher Award! She demonstrates extraordinary skill in utilizing data to plan effective learning and teaching lessons that create meaningful experiences.
Read her nominations below:
“If you look up the definition of “utilizing data to plan meaningful experiences” you would find a picture of Maridee Harrison. As a retired principal, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of disaggregating data but I have learned how to bring this to greater heights since working with Maridee. As a teacher working under her leadership for the past four years, I have found a great desire to drill down into the data to find out why something was working out for students, as well as trying to find out how to fix a problem when a student or students were not understanding. I never gave a CFA without drilling down not just to find out which students needed help, but which questions were particularly challenging. This helped me see what changes I needed to make as a teacher to help my students achieve. Every PLC with Maridee begins with a data discussion. This became such a habit, that last year my colleague and myself already had discussed and delved into the data as soon as it was available, rather than waiting for PLC meeting. Our students kept track of their own data through data binders which allowed them to take ownership of their own learning. Teachers held data meetings with each student monthly to set goals and track where they have been and where they were heading. The proof is in the pudding, as our sixth-grade SAGE scores were some of the highest in the state last year. Actually, Polk school as a whole scored extremely well according to SAGE measurements. As an administrator again, I am learning more from her about spreading this need for drilling down into the data to all students and staff. She reiterates the importance of students not only understanding their personal data, but learning how to use that understanding to grow and learn. Teachers new to her staff sometimes have a steep learning curve because it is expected that data will drive instruction. Maridee has worked the schedule so that both Taylor Canyon and Polk can meet together for PLC meetings so that teachers have a greater group with which to collaborate. Lest someone gets the wrong idea that academic data is the only thing that Maridee drives, one only has to look at the atmosphere of excitement along with learning that she tries to develop in her schools. She is aware of the data that supports the idea that students need to feel safe and valued at their schools. Student safety is her number one goal, but right after that is a sense of belonging and value. She has implemented programs such as our Super Power days at Polk where once a month, teachers taught a super lesson in various subject areas. Then there were STEM Fridays where each grade held a STEM activity once a month. This year at Taylor Canyon, she was able to get someone to donate pumpkins so that every student got a decorated pumpkin to take home. Students want to come to school to learn because she sets such a great environment for them to learn. Maridee does everything she can to make school a great place for both students and teachers. I admire the way she balances two schools and makes things work. When I grow up, if I ever do, I want to be like Maridee.” - Cindy Cunningham
“Maridee LOVES data and she does her best to encourage others to love data as well. She spends time with grade level teams and with individual teachers to make sure they understand their data and are able to utilize them to make informed decisions for whole group, small group, and individual lesson planning. She is always encouraging staff to continually review date to stay informed with student/class/school progress. When it comes to data, Maridee has the memory of the proverbial elephant! She rarely forgets! She is aware of even the slightest changes and is quick to praise growth and/or offer suggestions on how to improve. Without Maridee's data push, Polk would not have the end-of-level results it has achieved! Maridee epitomizes the role of principal. She IS the principal teacher at her schools. She leads by example and hard, dedicated work. She cares about each individual, whether student, staff, parent, or community member.” - Earl Gardner
“Maridee is more concerned about her data, and how that data ranks her against others, than anyone else I know. Maridee's daily action are driven by the desire to do better and make her school better. Schedules, procedures and activities are all thoughtfully planned with the end goal in mind. What is her end goal? Well she always wants to do better then she did the year before. How does she measure that? She uses the data she has available. The state of Utah gave school grades for several years and Polk received an A grade in 2016. It would seem that might be the top but Maridee had to do better so she got an A yet again in 2017 and made sure it was a higher score even. I truly have no doubts that if they were to receive a grade for 2018 it would also be an A. Maridee loses sleep over the scores before they are released and works tirelessly to improve what she can after they are public. Maridee is the principal at two school this year, she is willing to do whatever it takes to improve schools in this district. She is willing to work herself to death to better the teachers, students, and the rest of the support staff. She gives to everyone else and worries about everyone else with out thinking twice about herself.” - Mariah Denny
“Maridee demonstrates extraordinary skill, dedication and strength utilizing data to plan meaningful experiences by printing off data reports for each teacher and meeting with them individually to discuss their growth and/or challenges. Providing support and communication with our Instructional Coach. Maridee has scheduled for the teachers from Polk and Taylor Canyon to hold their PLC's together rotating locations. This is a great benefit to our teachers at Taylor Canyon and Polk because a few of our grades only have 1 or 2 general education teachers, so this opportunity allows them to collaborate and gain ideas from more examples. This has also been a great opportunity for team building relations between the 2 schools. Maridee is an extraordinary example of the perfect team player. She has effectively taken the role as principal of 2 elementary schools (Polk and Taylor Canyon). Here at Taylor Canyon she has created a positive environment for all with a listening ear. She takes into consideration the faculty's opinions and respectfully implements whatever process is needed to not only run our school, but lead in a way that somehow makes us feel anything is possible! She has brought discipline to our school along with daily structure. She has reinforced the school wide rules; be respectful, be responsible, be safe. This year we have "Breakfast in the Classroom" which has been a great benefit to our students. Our student tardies have been more than cut in half and it has greatly minimized the amount of behavior issues that would arise before school. The student activities that she has approved, have our students looking forward to coming to school. Halloween Parade, costumes, Student of the Month lunch table and the 200 Club have all brought positive reinforcement. She was able to get over 350 pumpkins donated to our school, so each student was able to take one home. Maridee is not just a principal. She is a teacher, a custodian, a secretary, you name it. She will step in whenever needed and supports her faculty to the fullest. She is very motivated and one of the most outgoing people I've met and to think she does this for 2 schools. What an amazing woman!” - Lacey Nicholls