The raucous orchestra of sounds reverberating through the hallways at Albion Middle School is music to Sandy LeCheminant's ears. And she's found that a close listen to the cadence and timbre of her students' adolescent chatter can help pinpoint the real reason behind the brassiest of classroom and hallway behaviors.

"In this position, you get to see the process that students go through as they learn and grow," says LeCheminant, a music teacher turned middle school administrator. "You get to see them mature. You get to be the mediator as they work through adolescence. They may lose it the next day, but you get that chance to help the kids try to figure out life."

LeCheminant embraces the angst of middle school with a patient yet knowing smile. She's a cheerleader one minute, a rule-enforcer the next. But her trademark no-frills, steady-as-clockwork approach to aiding sixth- through eighth-grade students navigate the awkward middle school years is among the reasons why she's been lauded by her peers as one of the best administrators in Utah. On Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, LeCheminant was announced as the 2018 Utah Assistant Principal of the Year, an honor given annually by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals.

She received the award at the organization's mid-winter conference, held at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George. LeCheminant, who also has been an Assistant Principal at South Jordan, Eastmont, and Indian Hills middle schools, is one of three secondary school principals to be honored. Ben Lomond High Principal Dale Wilkinson and West Jordan Middle Principal Dixie Garrison also received recognition as the state's top school leaders for 2018.

LeCheminant, who began her career as an educator in Prescott, Wisconsin, will represent Utah in the national Assistant Principal of the Year contest. Garrison will represent the state for the U.S. secondary principal award. LeCheminant joins a prestigious roster of previous winners from Canyons District, including the 2016 High School Principal of the Year Mary Bailey, 2014 Assistant Principal of the Year Doug Hallenbeck, 2013 Middle School Principal of the Year Mary Anderson, and 2011 Assistant Principal of the Year Dr. Paul Kirby.

Mike Sirois, Canyons District's Director of School Performance, has high praise for LeCheminant's contribution to Albion Middle and beyond. "She is an extremely dedicated administrator," he said. "Her work ethic is exceptional, as is her knowledge of research-based curriculum and instructional practice." For her part, LeCheminant acknowledges that "so much of our jobs" as assistant principals is based on student behavior. What's changed over the years, she said, is the role of an assistant principal. The APs of the past focused on meting out discipline to ruffians and rule-breakers. Now, she says, a good assistant principal will say, "'OK, this is happening. But why is it happening in the first place?' ... Then, 'What can we do to address the skill deficits so it doesn't happen again.'"

LeCheminant also enjoys working with teachers and parents to find ways to inspire learning in even the most reluctant and hard-to-reach student. "What do I do every day? I do a thousand different things. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades," she said, adding that she's often doing lunchroom duty one minute, then outside for bus duty the next. "I come to work every day, and I am still interested. I am still learning. And I still love what I do."
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Purchase of Property for Hillcrest High Rebuild


The Board of Education approved the purchase of property at 7230 S. 900 East to increase the parking capacity at Hillcrest High during the scheduled rebuild funded by the voter-approved $283 million bond. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board the redesign of the campus will improve the traffic flow for the entire campus, but especially to the football stadium and gymnasium. The sale price of the 1.76 acres is $1.5 million, which is less than the appraised value. Board member Mont Millerberg advocated for the purchase of the land to enhance the safety of the access points to the high school. 

County Boundary Change

Salt Lake and Utah counties have agreed to a change in their boundaries that will impact student enrollment in Canyons District. The change was necessary to remedy a jurisdictional problem created by the fact that the county line previously cut through several Draper-area properties. Under the redrawn line, Salt Lake County will exchange some vacant land for a residentially-zoned area that has been slated for development. Because Canyons District’s boundaries are contiguous with Salt Lake County’s boundaries, the District expects to eventually inherit about 175 new homes. 

Sixth-Grade Math Curriculum

To boost student achievement, a curriculum committee of math teachers is recommending that Canyons adopt a new sixth-grade math curriculum: Illustrative Mathematics. An open source educational resource developed by leading researchers, Illustrative Mathematics is available digitally for free, with exception to student workbooks that can be purchased for $22.50 apiece. This particular platform is more rigorous and aligns with state standards and evidenced-based instructional practices, explained Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward. The Board will vote on the proposal at a future meeting. If approved, the new curriculum would be implemented in time for the 2018-2019 school year.

Cell Tower

The Board held a first reading of a proposal for a micro cell tower at Ridgecrest Elementary that would generate $350 per month in annual revenues for the school.  The tower was unanimously approved by the school’s School Community Council, which recommended it be approved by the Board. It would be placed atop a 20-foot light pole in Ridgecrest’s parking lot in compliance with Cottonwood Heights City ordinances. The Board will vote on the matter at a future meeting.

Graduation Rates

More CSD students are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams through which they can earn early college credit. In 2017, 2,737 of CSD’s high school seniors took AP exams, a 56 percent increase from 2010. Pass rates, or the number of students to earn a score of 3,4, or 5 on the exam, rose to 70 percent in 2017. That compares to average pass rates of 67 percent in Utah and 68 percent nationally. Canyons District’s graduation rate also continues to improve. Eighty-six percent of all high school seniors received a diploma in the spring of 2017. That’s up from 85 percent in 2016 and 83 percent in 2014, explained Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson. CSD’s graduation rate tracks the state’s, but such a comparison is complicated by the fact that Canyons has strict graduation requirements. CSD has a 28-credit diploma whereas most districts require 27 credits. Most districts, including CSD, also offer a reduced, 24-credit diploma option.

 
Patron Comment

Lone Peak parent Nicole Ellis thanked the Board for working quickly to address the cooling system at the elementary school.  In November, she urged the Board to consider fixing the chiller because of the heat in classrooms.

Patron Steve Van Maren asked whether Canyons allowed political signage on its property. He also inquired about the potential purchase of land to accommodate the Hillcrest High rebuild. He urged the Board to make the school’s footprint smaller and reconsider work on the athletic fields. 

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the majority of the items on the consent agenda, including the minutes of the Board’s Dec. 5, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; November Financial Reports; December Financial Reports and a LAND Trust Amendment for Oak Hollow Elementary. After some questions, in a separate motion, the Board approved proposed student travel and a proposed minimal tuition increase for preschool students.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe reported on attending farewell receptions for Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, and Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. All three were instrumental in the creation of the District.  He also recognized 1st Board Vice President Nancy Tingey, who has served for the past year as the Utah School Boards Association President.  He said. USBA’s recent conference was a success, thanks to her leadership. 

Wilcox congratulated Mrs. Tingey on her successful year as the USBA President and noted that Mrs. Amber Shill, 2nd Vice President, has earned another leadership position in the Utah High School Activities Association.  He thanked Dr. Hal Sanderson for his presentation on graduation rates and AP take- and pass-rates. He said the first $49 million in bond issuances will be sold tomorrow.  The Board will be updated as soon as the District knows the terms of the sale. 

Board of Education Member Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation. He also reported on attending a holiday concert at Indian Hills Middle, which is now housed at the old Crescent View building, and reflected on how nice it will be next year to be in the renovated Indian Hills Middle.  The new IHMS opens in the fall. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold reported on attending the most recent District incident-command meetings. Arnold remarked on the plans being put in place to prevent a hepatitis A outbreak. She also commented on discussions about how to improve communication in an emergency. She also expressed appreciation for Dr. Sanderson’s study-session presentation. Mrs. Arnold also thanked Mrs. Tingey and Mrs. Shill for representing the district on various boards and committees. 

Mrs. Tingey thanked her fellow Board members for the support she’s been extended during her time as USBA president. She reported on attending Brighton, Park Lane and Brookwood School Community Council meetings. She also reported on attending farewell receptions for outgoing mayors. Tingey also congratulated schools on successful completion of emergency drills. 

Mrs. Shill reported on attending the Brighton High SCC meeting at which architects presented preliminary plans for the new school. She invited the public to Open Houses when plans for the new campus are formalized. She congratulated on Tingey on a successful year as the USBA leader.  In addition, she congratulated the CSD schools that were in the top 20 in the state school-grading system.

Mr. Steve Wrigley said he attended Jordan High’s SCC meeting, as well as a speech at Alta High by a Pulitzer Prize winner.  He also discussed the efforts the District is making to provide supports to special-education classrooms.  Wrigley also reported on attending classes at the Utah School Boards Association Conference.

Mr. Mont Millerberg praised the quality of classes and organization of the USBA conference. He expressed appreciation to Hillcrest High Greg Leavitt for his work on the designs for the new high school. He also reported on attending the holiday performing event at Copperview Elementary, the District’s incident-command meetings, and the Student Advisory Council meetings. 

President Sherril Taylor thanked Principal Brian McGill for his dedication to the suicide-prevention efforts at the high school. He congratulated Mrs. Tingey for her successful year as the president of USBA. Taylor said she made USBA better.  He congratulated Mrs. Shill on her position in the Utah High School Activities Association. He expressed appreciation to Board members for their hard work.  He said Canyons is achieving its goal of being a world-class district.
A familiar face will lead Hillcrest High into the shine of this fall’s Friday Night Lights.

Not only have Husky fans spotted him on the sidelines at Schick Stadium, students see him every day in the hallways and psychology class.

Ron Hill, the Huskies’ former offensive coordinator and a current teacher in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program, this week was announced as the school’s new head football coach.

Hill, who also previously coached at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, was chosen after a national search. His appointment was announced to the faculty on Thursday, and Hill and some members of the coaching staff met with returning and prospective players on Friday afternoon.

“Our search was exhaustive. We really looked for the best-possible fit for us here at Hillcrest. We are confident that we did that,” Assistant Principal Justin Matagi said at the team meeting.  “With Coach Hill, we think we can keep up the momentum we’ve trying to build over the past couple of years.”

Hill, a University of Utah product, succeeds Cazzie Brown, who died a few weeks into last season from complications of a viral infection. The team, riding on a high from a berth in the state playoffs at the end of Brown’s first year, reeled in mourning — and never recovered.   

“We were on our way, you guys. We were making steps,” Hill acknowledged on Friday as players, many of them clad in Husky green jerseys, stood around him. “But then a very unfortunate incident came about that affected all of us.  It was something over which we had no control, there is no doubt about that.”

The new coach hailed Brown’s legacy and asked the team to rise above the challenges they faced after his untimely death.  “He left us with one final lesson — and we all have to fight through it,” he said.  “I want to move forward, and It’s time to move forward.”

 Hill also laid bare his expectations, both in the classroom and the playing field, for those donning the Hillcrest uniform. Failing grades — or failures to attend practice — will not be tolerated, he said. Dedication and commitment to learning will be hallmarks of the Husky program, Hill told the players.

“I’m an academic.  It means everything to me,” he said.  “You are going to so much farther with what you have up here (in your head) than with how well you can catch a football.”

But he also plans on being competitive. The “old school” training will be intensive and designed to build “big guys” and “monsters,” he said. Hill also asked the members of the team for some help recruiting more players. In order to be successful, he said, the team needs a deeper bench.  “Fellas,” he said, “I need numbers.” 

For Hill, who has started the Twitter account @coachhillhhh to communicate with the community, the chance the helm the Huskies’ football team is “absolutely a dream come true.”

“We are back online and we are fired up,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
As Canyons District teachers, parents and students start anew in the maiden days of January, these wise words of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai ring truer than ever: “One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.”

At the outset of 2018, the Board of Education and Administration invite you to resolve to express appreciation to the teachers in Canyons District who are educating the next generation of community leaders, artists, technology whizzes and entrepreneurs. You can do this by submitting a nomination for the 2018 Canyons District Teacher of the Year. 

Nominations are now being taken for this year’s Canyons District Teacher of the Year honor. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, Feb. 2.  Per tradition, Canyons District recognizes a Teacher of the Year from every Canyons school for outstanding teaching practices, professionalism, and community involvement.

From that field, one overall Teacher of the Year is selected to represent the District in the state top-teacher competition and receives the 2018 CSD Apex Award for Teacher of the Year — the highest award given to teachers by the Canyons Board of Education.

Every school-based Teacher of the Year receives gifts and prizes donated by CSD’s generous business partners.   

This year, the Board and Administration will announce one top teacher from the elementary, middle and high school levels. Those three will receive additional honors, which will be presented at an April 24 community celebration and announcement of our overall Canyons Teacher of the Year. 

To nominate your favorite teacher for the top award, fill out the following form and return it to your school.

pdfTeacher of the Year nomination form

Last year's winner of the Teacher of the Year honor was Drew Fosse, a teacher at Union Middle School.
Asked to reflect on the whirlwind of events in recent years — the pomp of graduation from a top-tier university; scrappy early days as an entrepreneur; and launch of a billion-dollars-a-day-in-transactions trading firm — Christina Qi pauses and exhales before showing a rare moment of incredulity. 

“I still can’t believe it,” says Qi, a Hillcrest High graduate who is a rising star in the fast-changing, tech-heavy, algorithm-reliant world of high-frequency trading. “It’s all kind of surreal.” 

Qi, who left the Midvale-area school to pursue a degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent her life wisely since arriving in New England. After earning a degree at MIT in 2013, she and two friends hit the pavement, looking for forward-thinking investors who believed in their plan to revolutionize how trading firms do business.  

Contrary to business-world tradition, Qi’s company, named Domeyard, embraces a relatively flat organizational structure. While there are employees who serve in roles traditionally reserved for a Chief Executive Officer or Chief Technology Officer, everyone in the firm has the title “partner” she said.  Also, the company develops its own technologies, is selective about clients, and builds trading strategies that blend the best thinking of new and established firms, she said.

Not only has Domeyard gained a prominent foothold in a notoriously difficult field, Qi and her two partners, Luca Lin and Jonathan Wang, have received accolades for their wise-beyond-their-years instincts and commitment to hard work. Most notable: Earlier this year, the trio was named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 under 30” list of movers and shakers in the world of finance.   

The magazine says the 2017 list is an “encyclopedia of creative disruption” in 20 different industries. The hot, up-and-coming talent in such fields as art and style, Hollywood and entertainment, media, energy, sports and science are nominated, vetted and selected by the publication’s “ace reporters and a panel of A-list judges.”

Qi admits to being a little star-struck at a Forbes-list summit in October. “I was like, ‘I can’t believe I am here with Joe Jonas,’” she said about the 30-under-30 honoree meet-up, which draws current and former list-makers. This year’s list includes Jonas, actress Zoe Kravitz, DJ-producer Marshmello, Tony winner Ben Platt, and Facebook Operations Vice President Jay Hammonds. 

“That was definitely really cool.  It was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re really real,’” she said about hob-nobbing with Hollywood hoi polloi. And it also marked quite a journey from the hallways at Hillcrest, Midvale Middle and Peruvian Park Elementary schools. 

With a bit of a shy chuckle, Qi, 26, who interned at Goldman Sachs, confesses to being more than a little skeptical when a Forbes reporter first contacted the company about being featured in the publication. The former student in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program also reeled from the attention when the profile on Domeyard was featured on Forbes’ homepage. “My phone just started blowing up,” she says.

The magazine tells the story of Domeyard’s early days as a dorm-room enterprise, Qi’s role as the partner responsible for raising investment funds, and the late nights spent babysitting the algorithms that Qi, Lin and Wang were using to make trades in the European market.  Forbes also reveals that the name Domeyard comes from landmarks at MIT and Harvard. 

“It took nearly three years for Domeyard to get up and running,” states the Forbes story.  “Qi was effective at raising money, but the young traders needed to build up the technology and infrastructure required for data-driven trading—securing servers in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s data center, writing a few million lines of code, and setting up the capability to support several petabytes of data.” 

But Forbes also notes Domeyard’s “brash and optimistic” nimble nature, based on youth, small size and drive for innovation.

“The Domeyard crew is operating in a field dominated by big firms with years of operating history that have spent fortunes on infrastructure and armies of mathematicians and engineers. In addition, this low-volatility stock market era has cut deeply into some of the richest strategies of high frequency traders, causing a wave of consolidation in the industry,” the story reads. “But Domeyard’s young founders think that there are some advantages to being the new kids on the high-frequency block. The firm is working to unlock profitable trading strategies by using sequential machine learning and making large scale computations of statistics.”

Qi says many of the lessons learned at Hillcrest High stay with her today.  She also fondly recalls the teachers who inspired her, programs that gave her a solid academic foundation, and the spirit of the students who were proud to be Huskies.

In particular, she praises now-retired biology teacher Phil Talbot. In fact, in 2010, Qi successfully nominated Talbot for a prestigious MIT Alumni Association Inspirational Teacher Award. He was one of 37 teachers nationwide to be presented with the honor from the institution. “The way he connected with students … there were students in our class who became doctors because of the way he taught his class, she said.  “Once, when I was home, I ran into him (at a local restaurant), and I just broke down.  It was so good to see him before he retired.”

“Overall, I loved the spirit of Hillcrest. It was better than anything I have ever experienced, even at MIT,” she says, noting that Hillcrest High, not known for having a student body with excess personal funds, is generous to those in the community with even less. “A lot of the students don’t come from wealthy backgrounds, but they still give back … It’s a lesson for all of us.”
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