New Corner Canyon Principal to “Keep Momentum Going”
Corner Canyon High School’s first ever principal Mary Bailey was known to support students and teachers alike at numerous school activities. Here she is photographed with CCHS 2015 graduate Alexsys Campbell. — Alexsys Campbell
On June 30, it became official. Mary Bailey, Corner Canyon High School's first ever principal, officially retired, leaving many students and faculty saddened with the absence of the 41-year education veteran and uncertain of the school’s direction.
Darrell Jensen, who has been principal at Albion Middle in Sandy, was appointed to succeed Bailey. The current assistant principals will remain in their positions and Bruce Eschler, currently an intern assistant principal at Corner Canyon High, will become an assistant principal.
Jensen is quick to point out things have been successful under his predecessor.
“I’m not a guy who has to move in and change everything,” Jensen said. “Everything is running smoothly so I’m just going to keep the momentum going and be supportive of the programs in place. The first things I’m going to do is get to know the people, the culture and the community.”
Jensen has 20 years of experience teaching. He has taught in Nebo School District for eight years, been an assistant principal at both Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights and Jordan High School in Sandy for a total of 10 years, been an administrative intern at Hillcrest High School in Midvale for one year and spent the past two years as Albion’s principal.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Utah Valley University and his master’s degree from Brigham Young University in education administration.
“I love working with the high school students, building relationships with them and learning what they plan to do — college, work, military, marriage, with what it all entails. And I plan to be supportive of them learning to balance their academics with the arts, sports, clubs and everything high school has available to them,” he said.
Jensen plans to split his evenings between attending Corner Canyon activities and supporting his own children’s activities at their high school in Payson, where he lives with his family on a farm raising cows and horses.
“I’ll try to do as many things as I can. From everything I’ve heard and read, the students here are very talented and the community is very supportive,” he said.
That is what many teachers appreciate about Bailey — attending and being supportive of Corner Canyon programs and events.
“She’s not only everywhere, all the time, but she truly cares,” instrumental teacher Randal Clark said. “She writes on cards and thanks me not just for the great concert, but specifically what she loved or why this piece was great in the concert. She has a true gift with people and how she has time to do what all she does — and never forgets anything — I don’t know.
Cheer coach Whitney Lunt appreciates Bailey’s involvement at the school.
“The biggest thing about Mary is that she goes out of her way to help,” she said. “She has 90 million things going on, but if you need to talk to her, she’s there — whether it’s early morning or late at night — and she has that amazing smile and willingness to help — and she comes to all our competitions. She’s just amazing, wonderful.”
Bailey said she didn’t attend every event, but will miss seeing them perform and compete.
“When I’m there, kids noticed that I was there — and I appreciate it,” Bailey said. “Just as I appreciated seeing them compete at the Shakespeare festival as well as perform on our stage. I went to choir and band concerts, attended football, basketball, soccer games, debate tournaments and cheer and drill performances. It was fun. It’s all part of high school and seeing them succeed.”
Bailey taught at several middle and high schools in the area as well as high school in Burley, Idaho before becoming assistant principal at Brighton High in Cottonwood Heights. She worked in Canyons School District’s office before the opportunity arose to become Corner Canyon’s first principal.
“It was an exciting opportunity to open a new high school. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to build it, bring in the people who were excited to create programs and put together a wonderful school with great staff, students and community to support it,” she said.
At times, there were some challenging early moments, such as when deciding the nickname of the school and national uproar came about when a choice was announced as “Cougars.”
“We were called sexist, archaic, out of date and about everything else. I got calls from across the nation with media as well as from a radio talk show in Germany. We shook it off later and placed a plastic cougar in the drywall of one of the walls going up here reminding us that we were the Corner Canyon Cougars, but not officially,” Bailey said.
Bailey now will turn her attention to helping her daughter make her October wedding arrangements and getting to household projects that she has put off. She also wants to travel to Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
Yet, she has one last commitment as principal. Earlier this year, Bailey was named Utah High School Principal of the Year, so in September, she will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with the nation’s education leader, Utah senators and members of congress and other top principals across the country at the national conference. At the conference, the national principal of the year will be announced.
“As Corner Canyon’s principal, I’ve had a great experience and did some great things. It’s hard to leave, but there’s a time for everything and it’s my time. I’m leaving on a high note,” Bailey said.
Another administrative change will be at Canyons School District office: Misty Suarez, who has been Salt Lake City School District’s director of student services, will become Canyons District’s new director of special education. She will succeed Robin Collett. Suarez has 16 years of administrative experience, including six years as the principal of Mount Jordan Middle, and is licensed in special education.