Herriman Elementary principal named Student Advocate of the YearFeb 01, 2021 12:04PM ● By Jet Burnham
To delight her students, Principal Bobbie Nixon gets duct taped to the wall of the school cafeteria in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Bobbie Nixon)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
An excerpt from the nomination form illustrates why Bobbie Nixon, principal at Herriman Elementary, was chosen by the Jordan District Elementary Principals Association as Student Advocate of the Year:
“Bobbie Nixon is a principal for the students. I love that when we talk about a student, she always asks ‘Is this good for the student?’ She is data driven and will get any resources necessary to help students learn, succeed, and excel. Bobbie is caring and kind with all the student body. With Bobbie as our student advocate, all students flourish and triumph.”
Nixon has been an educator for 22 years and has been principal at Herriman Elementary for the past two. She said she is the kind of principal that spends as much time as she can out of her office because she loves being with the children.
“This year, I’m doing air hugs and air high-fives,” Nixon said. “I never let someone pass me without saying hi. I try to make kids feel loved and feel special in any way I can, and I try to help my staff do the same.”
Everything Nixon does as principal begins with the question “What's best for students?”
“Her number one item on our list every year is student growth,” instructional coach Marika Dains said. “She is continually thinking about what we can do different, to reach the most kids, the quickest. Everything we do here under her direction is pretty much individualized to each student.”
Nixon believes that all students can learn at high levels. It’s her motto and the drive for professional development opportunities she provides for her teachers.
All teachers meet in professional learning communities, called PLCs, in which teachers in each grade level assess student data, collaborate and determine the direction for instruction. At some schools they are an untapped resource but the PLCs at Herriman Elementary are well organized, focused and worthwhile, said Dains.
“Bobbie has been on top of it from the get-go,” Dains said. “She really saw the value and has been instrumental in creating a formula that keeps us on track and holds us accountable.”
The PLC program at Herriman Elementary is so efficient, it’s now a nationally recognized model for other schools—the first school in Jordan District to earn that reputation.
Nixon’s focus on students includes more than just academics.
“I want to educate the whole child,” she said. “We want them not only to learn at high levels, but we also want them to be happy. We want them to be confident with their learning and to educate them in all aspects of who they are. We want bright futures for them.”
For this purpose, Nixon created a character education curriculum to teach values such as tolerance, patience, mindfulness, patriotism and gratitude. She opted to develop her own curriculum instead of subscribing to one of the many published character education programs.
“I've been a teacher for a long time before I was a principal and I've taught many grades,” Nixon said. “And I feel like sometimes those programs are not developed by a person that's actually taught. If you're going to teach a certain lesson about character ed, you need to have skills to be able to formulate the right lesson.”
With her own program, Nixon also has the flexibility to adapt activities and lesson plans to specific grade levels. She tweaks the program each year, adding books, personal stories and other resources that fit within her vision.
Nixon also has implemented student recognition and reward programs which encourage leadership skill development and kindness to others.
Nixon ensures students are placed in the class where they will be most successful since students spend so much of their day with that teacher.
“I want those hours to be the most productive, the most delightful and joyful hours,” she said.
Hilary Johnson, who has two children attending Herriman Elementary, has worked closely with Nixon for several years through the PTA.
“I've never seen a situation where she hasn't kept the kids' experiences and best interest as the most important factors in any decision she makes,” Johnson said. “Especially this year, she's always trying to make sure she's doing the best she can for these kids.”