Christine Straatman returning
to North Sanpete as principal
By Suzanne Dean
MT. PLEASANT—An educator who went back to college as a mother of three, started her career at North Sanpete High School and is currently principal of Hunter High School in West Valley City will return to North Sanpete later this year as principal.
Christine Straatman (she was known as Christy Bird when she was on the North Sanpete High School faculty from 2004 to 2012) is the first new principal in more than 20 years who was not working for the North Sanpete district at time of hire.
She will replace Nan Ault, who was named superintendent a few months ago. Straatman’s contract starts July 1.
Straatman grew up in West Valley not far from Hunter High School, a school of 2,600 students, where she is now the principal. But she had roots in Sanpete County.
Her grandfather, Will Stewart, was born and raised in Milburn. Will’s grandparents, James W. and Almira Allred Stewart, were original settlers in the valley. Straatman spent summers at her grandfather’s place in Milburn.
When her youngest son was 4, she and he first husband moved from Salt Lake to join family living in Milburn. She lived in Sanpete for just shy of 15 years.
Today, two of her adult children live in the county. Her son, Rhett Bird of Mt. Pleasant, is the North Sanpete High School football coach, and her daughter, Chelsea Beck, also of Mt. Pleasant, is coordinator of the district’s early-intervention preschool program. Another son, Dallen Bird, lives in St. George.
The principal’s job at North Sanpete “enables me to do what I’m passionate about in a community I love and be near my children,” she says.
She adds, “I really admire the faculty at North Sanpete,” and “Nan Ault is going to be amazing to work with.”
In the early 2000s, as a mother of three, she started working as a paraprofessional at Fairview Elementary and also enrolled in Snow College. At Snow, “I enrolled as a non-traditional, first-generation college student,” she says.
She received her associate’s degree from Snow, magna cum laude, in 2002.
For two years after that, she commuted from Milburn to BYU, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in health and qualified for her teaching certificate in 2004.
That was the year she joined the North Sanpete High School faculty. She started out in the Learning Center as the concurrent enrollment coordinator for the high school and later was involved in the driver’s education program.
Toward the end of her time at the high school, she also served as an instructional coach mentoring other teachers and helping them implement instructional strategies in their classrooms.
When she finished her bachelor’s degree, she was married. But not long afterward, she was a single mom.
“Sometimes life throws you a couple of curves,” she says, “but I pushed through to my master’s.”
She enrolled in a program at Southern Utah University that enabled her to take classes right at North Sanpete over the EdNet system.
In 2010, she received a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school administration. She also qualified for her administrator certificate. More impressive, she graduated summa cum laude and was named Student of the Year in the master of educational leadership program.
“I had a great experience completing my master’s through SUU,” she says.
A couple of years later, she married another educator, Clint Straatman, who was teaching at Viewmont High School in Davis County. She moved back to the Wasatch Front.
She put in her application with the Granite School District for administrative positions and got a job as assistant principal at Evergreen Junior High.
Over eight years, from 2012 to 2020, she advanced through five increasingly responsible positions in the Granite district, including assistant principal at Evergreen Junior High; principal at Brockbank Junior High; principal at Granite Peaks/Granite Connection High School, an adult education and alternative high school; assistant principal at Skyline High; and principal at Hunter High.
“I’m grateful to Granite,” she says. “They provided a lot of opportunities for me to serve in a variety of positions.”
In her resume, she describes her approach as principal of Hunter High. She says she expects to do the same things at North Sanpete.
Those roles and goals include “supervising faculty and staff effectively through shared leadership while fostering an environment where staff and faculty work collaboratively and hold each other accountable to reach high levels of student achievement.”
She also wants to “engage the community in creating a shared vision for student and school success.”
After 16 years in the public schools and as she contemplates returning to North Sanpete as principal, she says, “I am more passionate about what I do than I’ve ever been before.”