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West Valley City Journal

Redwood Elementary principal receives human rights award

Nov 19, 2018 04:02PM ● By Lindsey Baxter

Julian with his principal, Jolynn Koehler. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

By Lindsey Baxter | [email protected]

Jolynn Koehler is easily identifiable to the community as Redwood Elementary’s principal but also as someone involved in her students’ lives. Koehler has been the principal of Redwood Elementary for four years and has worked diligently to coordinate and execute numerous programs and community initiatives that support the diverse student population. 

Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

The Utah School Counselors Association recently recognized her with the Human Rights Award, which recognizes educators, counselors, and community members who actively promote and facilitate human rights projects and activities. Koehler was one of a few individuals who received this honor.

Koehler has been in education for 31 years spending the majority of her career teaching first and fourth grade. She gave credit to her staff including two social workers, a school psychologist, wonderful teachers and office staff who all support the students. 

“The office staff helps coordinates all sorts of Christmas things. We usually have Granger High donating Christmas trees and have the hallway lined with trees where families can come and take pictures. The school helps lots and lots of families during the holiday season,” Koehler said. 

One project she is proud of is the school’s calm room. 

Redwood Elementary’s calm room. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

“If you have kids in your class that are getting angry about something or need time to settle down before you talk to them about something, or disturbing the class when other students are trying to learn, you can send them to the calm room and there are adults there that can help them to either practice things to calm down like breathing and mindfulness or facilitate a conflict resolution if its more than one student or talk them through what to do in the future if they have made a mistake,” she said. 

 Another initiative that Koehler has started is to make sure that all the basic needs are met for all students. All of her students receive free breakfast in the classroom and she says that they received a grant this year in which everybody gets lunch for free as well. All students, no matter who they are, come to school knowing they will have breakfast and lunch. They also partner with the Utah Food Bank who comes once a month to deliver food to those families that are in need.

Nancy Sanchez, the school community outreach/parent liaison, has been working at Redwood Elementary for 16 years and has children who attend Redwood Elementary. She said, “I think everything that she has built has been great within our community. Every parent likes to come and feel comfortable talking to her and she is very caring and understanding. 

“The parents from the Parent Center love her. She is very understanding and dedicated with our parents. She wants to make sure that every parent is welcome to our school and they feel good to come in,” Sanchez said. 

Elizabeth Cervantes, an employee of the school who also works with the YMCA in the afterschool program, said she sees the impact of the principal’s actions on the kids the most. “The way she’s been working with the kids, the parents, it’s awesome,” Cervantes said. She loves that she can notice a student needs new shoes and she can just send them to the office and the office staff knows exactly what to do and the community loves this about the school as well.

The cafeteria was filled with laughter on a Friday afternoon while the afterschool program was being held. Two of the students, Erin and Julian, were a little shy, but had great things to say about Redwood Elementary and their principal. 

Erin, a fifth-grader, said, “My principal is not super strict and she is always there for us. Redwood Elementary is nice and everyone should go here.” Julian, a fourth-grader, has been going to the school since preschool and loves having recess. “I love playing games in the afterschool program. I love that the principal makes everyone laugh,” Julian said.

“She is an amazing person,” said Sanchez. “And I’m just grateful that she is our principal because she is so good with our students, with our parents, with our community, in general she is just amazing.” 

If you would like to help sponsor a child/family this holiday season, please contact the main office of Redwood Elementary at (385) 646-4986.