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For Jason Theler, being a principal is about serving, not awards

After receiving a master’s degree in educational leadership from the McKay School of Education, Jason Theler went from being an elementary school teacher to being a principal. Years later, he has been nominated for the National Life Group’s LifeChanger of the Year Award for his work as a principal.

According to the National Life Group, “[The LifeChanger of the Year] program aims to honor those who are making a significant difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership.”

Mindi Barker, a former PTA president at Theler’s School, nominated Theler for the award. “Anyone who has ever crossed paths with him has been changed,” Barker said. “He brings out the best in everyone and truly cares about each individual person. I genuinely believe he is a life changer.”

Although Theler appreciates the nomination, he feels that many others deserve credit as well.

“I am very humbled to have many people be so complimentary of the contributions I’ve made over the last 20 years,” he said. “I do love being part of a team that gets celebrated, but I don’t like being the center of attention. I feel like the real heroes in education are the teachers who regularly work late and the parents who frequently volunteer their own time, so I wish I could draw more attention to the whole team, not just to me.”

For Theler, being a principal has been more about serving others than being recognized for his work. “I love spreading positivity and helping people ‘enjoy the journey,’” Theler said. “Being a principal allowed me to ‘paint on a bigger canvas’ and help more people more often.”

For those considering a career as a principal, Theler offers this advice:

“No matter how much you know about the content area or how skilled you are, unless you love being with people—in good times and in bad times—I don’t think you’ll have lasting happiness or success in education,” he said. “However, if you love interacting, helping, supporting, and encouraging others, there is no more meaningful opportunity or endeavor than education.”

Theler graduated from BYU in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 2001 he received a master’s in education from the University of Phoenix and in 2005 he received a master’s in educational leadership from BYU. He then taught fifth and sixth grades at Northridge Elementary in Orem, Utah, and was a partnership facilitator at Rocky Mountain Elementary in Lindon, Utah. He afterwards spent six years as the principal of Lindon Elementary and is currently principal of Thunder Ridge Elementary in Saratoga Springs, Utah.

Theler and his wife, Jaime, live in American Fork with their three children. He enjoys running with his wife, playing board games with his family, and teaching a gospel doctrine Sunday School class.

Writer: Kirsten Clancy

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922