OGDEN -- Suzanne Bolar is a self-proclaimed product of the Ogden School District, so when she recently received the Utah "Principal Mentor of the Year" award, the elementary school principal was especially proud to be representing the school district she loves.
Bolar has been a principal for nine years, first at Edison Elementary School and now at Wasatch Elementary School. She taught and trained at several schools in the district as well and said she has loved all of it.
When Bolar heard that Rich Moore, the district's executive director of elementary education, had nominated her for the award, she was a little taken aback.
"I told him that I didn't really think that was me, but I completely respect him (Moore) and so I trusted him," Bolar said. "I was surprised when I got it."
Moore wasn't surprised, but was very proud. He hired Bolar as a teacher when he was principal at Edison Elementary 19 years ago.
"She is an excellent principal and exemplary in many ways," Moore said. He has watched the way she stands up for her teachers and supports them in any way she can.
"She always takes on extra and supports other leaders in the district," Moore said.
Each district in the state can nominate someone for the mentor principal award.
Bolar attributes her success in her school and as a mentor to the training provided by the district. She said the principals meet once a month and collaborate to improve specific areas of leadership.
"We are given different goals to improve on each month," Bolar said.
She appreciates that all principals have the chance to improve and help each other.
"I would never hesitate to call anyone even in secondary education with a problem, and they can help me," she said.
She remembers once calling Superintendent Noel Zabriskie with a problem.
"I was so nervous, and he talked me through it," she said of the solving the situation.
Moore has watched as Bolar stepped up during the collaboration meetings to offer input and advice when needed.
"Her peers listen to her," he said. "She has always been a person of promise. She is energetic, bright and willing to go the extra mile."
"I have been at a school that burned down, a school that got struck by lightning and had to close a school down," Bolar said of her career experiences so far. She was the last person in Lincoln Elementary before it burned down several years ago and was principal at Edison when it was struck by lightning.
"I thought we had gotten bombed," she said. She remembered to think quickly and keep things calm.
Closing Edison was one of the harder parts of her career, but she knew it had to be done for the betterment of the district.
The best part of the job is easy for her to identify.
"Oh, the teachers and the kids," she said. She loves the dedication of the teachers in the Ogden district.
"They never hesitate to go the extra mile and learn more to make them do a better job for the kids," she said.
It motivates her to work harder as well. As for the students, that goes without saying, she said.
"It's always fun every day, and those kids always put a smile on my face."