New principal at GCMS

Major changes are underway at the Grand County Middle School. After receiving final approval from the school board, Leslie McCourt-Nussman, who has worked in Virginia and northern Utah, has officially been hired as the new middle school principal.

Collaborative is the best way to describe McCourt-Nussman’s approach to school administration, she says. When asked to express her plans for the middle school, McCourt-Nussman responded, “We will work together collaboratively to create the vision for the school.” During the interview process, McCourt-Nussman had the opportunity to meet some of the faculty and staff she will be working with. The middle school has “an amazing staff and I am looking forward to working with them,” she said.

In addition to her background in curriculum instruction and her “excellent technology skills,” McCourt-Nussman’s focus on cooperation and teamwork made her an attractive candidate, according to Superintendent JT Stroder. “The interview team liked her collaborative approach,” he said. Her administrative style that emphasizes group efforts was one of the major factors that made McCourt-Nussman the top candidate out of the dozen people that applied for the position.

“I believe that leadership starts with relationships,” McCourt-Nussman said. “I cannot wait to get to know the community and my staff and my students here in Moab.” While she is still settling in, McCourt-Nussman’s first impressions of Moab have been positive. Between the people and the beautiful landscapes, she has found a lot to love about her new home.

More than anything, McCourt-Nussman wanted to express her gratitude for the opportunity to be principal of the Grand County Middle School. “First and foremost, I really want to thank the community for sharing their children… because for me that’s an honor,” she said.

Given the recent prevalence of bullying issues at the middle school, student safety will be a primary concern as McCourt-Nussman develops a future plan for the school. As with other topics, she plans to allow specifics to come into place through a team effort from the entire faculty. “I am going to work with my faculty and staff to create a warm culture and a shared vision,” said McCourt-Nussman.

Though she originally hails from Virginia, McCourt-Nussman has lived in Utah for the past six years. Before accepting the position in Moab, she worked as the curriculum specialist for the Jordan School District near Salt Lake City. McCourt-Nussman received her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Family and Consumer Sciences from Virginia State University. She then went on to earn a Master of Education from Regent University with a focus in Administration, Leadership and Supervision. McCourt-Nussman has experience teaching preschool, middle school and high school students.

For now, McCourt-Nussman is excited to begin the next phase of her career. Creating a more comprehensive vision will come once she has met all her staff and gained a level of familiarity with the school. “We are going to work collaboratively as a faculty and staff to create that vision… and make an impact with rigor and efficacy,” she said. McCourt-Nussman also noted that making character education a vital part of the curriculum is one of her highest priorities.

Aside from the substantial personnel alteration, the middle school will be changing physically as well. Though the new middle school facility is still in the design and planning phase, its layout is close to being finalized. Superintendent Stroder said they hope to break ground next spring and have the new school completed by summer of 2020. “As a district, we just want to make sure that we’re on the cutting edge of what people are doing within education,” Stroder said. “We want to be one of the leaders in pursuing the way education is delivered, challenging the traditional thought processes in education.”

ByBy Nathaniel Smith

The Times-Independent