A five-year enrollment moratorium has been lifted at Corner Canyon High, where a 24-classroom addition funded by the $283 million bond approved by voters in November 2017 is now being constructed.
The Board of Education on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 voted to allow the school to start accepting Standard Open Enrollment Applications from students who do not live within the boundaries of the school. Because of the moratorium, which prohibited any new out-of-boundary students from attending the school, the school could not keep a waiting list of prospective pupils.
As a result of the Board’s decision, Corner Canyon High will begin taking school-choice applications for the 2019-2020 school year at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 18, 2019.Applications are submitted online.
Corner Canyon High, one of the first projects undertaken by Canyons District with funds from a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010, was built to hold a capacity of 1,862 students. This does not include the portable classrooms that have been on campus since 2013 to accommodate the overcrowding that was created in 2013 when an unexpected number of private and charter school students decided to leave their schools and enroll at the new CCHS instead.
Utah school districts can place schools on moratorium status if enrollment figures place the schools above the open-enrollment threshold. State statute defines that as being the greater of 90 percent of maximum school capacity or maximum capacity minus 40 students.
When the under-construction 24-classroom addition is completed at Corner Canyon High, the school will be at about 90 percent capacity. No other Canyons high school has been on moratorium status, even schools with higher enrollments, and those schools have either accepted school-choice permits or placed applying students on wait lists. By comparison, Alta High is at about 100 percent capacity, Brighton is at 90 percent, and Jordan and Hillcrest are at about 85 percent capacity.
If these walls could talk, they would tell stories of edge-of-your-seat wins and losses, drenched-with-sweat practices, the thump-and-blare of the pep band, and the heard-for-miles cheers of generations of Huskies.
While history has been kind to Hillcrest's Art Hughes Gymnasium, the time has come to build new memories in a facility that's being constructed for the generations to come.
A pack of former players, some of whom played on the school's first championship-winning team in 1968, attended the Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 boys hoops game against Kearns High. They were honored at the outset of the game for contributing to the strength of the home of the Huskies and mark the last home game played by the boys team before the more-than-50-year-old gym is torn down to make way for the new Hillcrest High, which will be built in phases over the next three years.
Construction crews are already working on the site of the school, which is being built with proceeds from a $283 million bond approved by voters in November 2018. It’s one of four construction projects now being done in Canyons District, including a rebuild of Brighton High, a major renovation at Alta High, and a classroom-wing addition at Corner Canyon High.
At the region game, the former players, who are brothers and friends, shook hands, hugged and re-lived the buzzer-beating shots, off-the-board rebounds, and the bonds built during the hours of practice and game-time play. They talked about the days gone by, when the entire community came to watch the Huskies hit the hardwood.
“It was a lot of fun to play here,” said Ron Hatch, the 6-foot 4-inch center of the title-holding 1968 squad. “Both sides of the court would be full (of cheering fans.)”
But there was a lot less to do in those days, he says, no Netflix, no Internet, no video games. “People came out to watch basketball. It was different then. It was what everybody did.”
“The game was different then, too,” he said. “You didn’t worry about who was going to get the ball. You just went out and played. It was so much fun.”
George Hughes, the son of the coach after whom the gym is named, recalled the good times had in the gymnasium throughout the years. “When I first entered his gym, I was just in awe,” he said. At the time, the Huskies’ gym was new, shiny, and ready to welcome the community.
Hughes said his father, who died in 2003, was immensely proud to coach the Huskies, and led the school to state championships, including the school’s first hoops title.
George Hughes said he was thrilled to attend the school while his dad was at the hoops helm, and held up his golden “H” that he earned for his letterman’s jacket. “I was proud to have gone to this school, to have played for this school.”
On Tuesday night, the stands were full of cheering students, parents, friends and boosters. The cheer squad jumped and flipped, and the Hillcrest drill team hip-hopped through a half-time routine. While the Huskies did not emerge victorious, they played as strong as their legacy.
On Friday, Feb. 15, the girls' hoops team will take the floor at 7 p.m. At the sound of the game-ending whistle, an era will end. And the score will be the last one tallied in the stadium where champions have been made.
We all grumble about our jobs from time to time, and teachers are no different. Those small and subtle messages, however, can quickly snowball to create an unflattering picture of teaching as a career choice—especially when uttered within earshot of impressionable young minds and compounded with news headlines about teacher shortages and walkouts.
But what if, instead of bemoaning the challenges of their chosen occupation, teachers consciously chose in their classrooms to talk about the autonomy they enjoy, the creativity involved in their jobs, and the meaningful difference they make? What if, as an experiment for a year, teachers wove messages into their lesson plans about the joys and rewards of working in education?
“Maybe it’s possible to flip the script, and counter negative talk about teaching with a groundswell of affirmative talk,” thought Canyons District recruiter Jo Jolley who set about doing just that through an ambassadorial program she created in partnership with the University of Utah’s Urban Institute for Teacher Education (UITE).
Here’s how it worked: Seven CSD teachers signed up to be ambassadors for which they received a small stipend from the U. Each was tasked with developing and testing strategies for elevating their profession, the end goal being to help build a healthy pipeline of future educators. The ambassadors were given free-license to come up with a campaign, program or messaging strategy that they felt would work best at their school, and their creativity was inspiring, says UITE Director Mary D. Burbank, Assistant Dean of the U.’s College of Education.
“Over the years, we’ve worked with area schools on dozens of programs to promote teaching and improve recruitment, but this is the first time we have asked teachers who are in the field to be ambassadors for their profession,” Burbank says. “Teachers are influential role models, and we know that daily exposure to positive role models factors heavily into people’s career choices. These ambassadors are exemplary educators who shine a positive light on their profession in ways that will perhaps change the perception of teaching and pique the interest of young people.”
Some of CSD’s ambassadors sponsored “Why I Teach” panel discussions. Others launched full-blown, college-level “Teaching 101” courses in CSD’s high schools. One such course at Hillcrest High, developed jointly with the U., attracted a large number of underrepresented minorities, a high-demand demographic for teacher-training programs looking to build a diverse, sustainable and high-quality teaching workforce.
But most of the ambassadors experimented with micro-messaging, those subtle—or not so subtle—messages that we convey about our values and expectations. Micro-messages can be found in a person’s tone of voice, a facial expression, or the utterance of a common phrase. They betray our beliefs and biases in ways we may not even be aware, but can also be used in constructive ways to drive cultural change.
“We don’t have enough young people going into this profession, which probably has something to do with the way we portray our job on social media and in conversations,” said Denise Sidesinger, a science teacher at Albion Middle whose project entailed planting subliminal messages about teaching into classroom assignments and faculty meetings.
“I might tell my students, for example, that ‘I chose for us to do this experiment today, because as a teacher I have a lot of creative control,’” Sidesinger explained. “Or, if a student said something complimentary about a lesson or lecture, I would reply, ‘See, that’s why I like my job so much.’” She also devoted a column in the school newspaper to teacher testimonials, and wrote a letter to the editor titled, “We need loving teachers,” which was published in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Courtney Roberts, a social studies teacher at Hillcrest High, had t-shirts printed for her colleagues emblazoned with the words, “Ask me why I teach.” She then videotaped teachers’ responses and publicized them using posters with QR codes that linked back to the testimonials.
Butler Middle English teacher Anna McNamer provocatively titled her project, “Teaching: It’s Not for Everyone” out of a desire to provide students with a clear-eyed view of education. “Teacher retention is an issue I’m passionate about, and my professors were very honest with me about the realities of the job,” she says. “But for me, the joys of teaching far outweigh the challenges. It’s important for my students to hear that.”
McNamer created a bingo card with categories reflecting what most teachers say they value about teaching. During Teacher Appreciation Week and Career- and College-Readiness Week, she tasked students with obtaining signatures from faculty members whose feelings about teaching matched the categories. “The idea was to plant seeds in their mind about education as a career. It was really reinvigorating for me and many of my colleagues,” McNamer says. “It’s just been a great collaborative process.”
Other school districts along the Wasatch Front have expressed an interest in participating in the ambassador program, and the U. plans to expand and build upon it with a series of “Why I Teach” video testimonials.
“It’s a messaging issue. We’re simply trying to change the narrative a bit,” Burbank says. “Teachers don’t go into teaching to have a spotlight on them, and they don’t get the opportunity very often to showcase their work. But there are so many great things happening in schools, so many pockets of excellence. Why not celebrate the accomplishments of educators who tirelessly engage in the daily work of teaching?”
Four members of the Canyons Board of Education were sworn into office on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 after winning the majority of the votes in the November 2018 General Election.
Also, in a historic decision, the newly empaneled Board voted to elect Nancy Tingey as the first female Board President in Canyons District history.
The atmosphere was celebratory Tuesday night as friends, families, supporters and Canyons District employees attended the first Board of Education meeting of 2019. They came to witness the re-elected and newly elected Board members take their Oaths of Office in the Board chambers of the Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East. A reception followed the swearing-in ceremony.
The oaths, administered by Megan Allen, chief clerk of the Utah House of Representatives, were taken by Amber Shill, Clareen Arnold, Steve Wrigley, and Amanda Oaks. Shill, Arnold and Wrigley were re-elected to their seats and Oaks replaces former President and inaugural CSD Board member Sherril H. Taylor, who did not run for re-election.
They join Board members Tingey, Chad Iverson and Mont Millerberg on the seven-member governing body of the 34,000-student school district.
"The right to vote is a solemn responsibility," said Tingey in her opening remarks. "Tonight we honor and celebrate our newly elected members of the Board, as well as those who participated in the democratic process."
After being sworn in, the newly elected members were invited to address the audience for a few minutes to thank friends and family members, outline their goals for their terms of office, and present philosophies about governance.
Shill, a Utah native with deep roots in civic engagement, was sworn into office to serve a second term representing District No. 2. Shill thanked her family for their support and said her priorities continue to be student achievement and transparency.
Wrigley took his oath to continue representing District No. 5 for a third term. “I promise,” he said, “to continue to be your voice in education and to give my all in this public service.”
Arnold is starting her second term on the Board as the representative of District No. 4. A career educator of 30 years, she says she is humbled to represent a community that “cares about kids.”
Taking her oath for the first time, Oaks, an attorney and classically trained musician, said she believes collaborative partnerships between parents, educators, and administrators create stronger schools and communities.
The closing remarks were delivered by former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, a parent of a student at Corner Canyon High. He congratulated Canyons on its successful first decade and urged the Board to always hearken back to the reason the District was founded: To be responsive to the needs and wants of the community and to encourage inspiring educational innovation and high student achievement.
This January marks the first time in over a decade that Sherril H. Taylor, a member of the inaugural Canyons Board of Education, does not have a front-row to history in Canyons School District.
With his decision to not seek re-election in November, Taylor’s 10-year tenure as the representative for District No. 6 in Canyons came to an end on Dec. 31, 2018. The Board of Education set aside time during the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 4, 2018, to present him with a crystal award and read a resolution in his honor.
“Whereas, Mr. Taylor’s contributions as an exacting, thoughtful, kind, dedicated, and generous leader are unparalleled and will be greatly missed by his fellow members of the Board of Education, Administration, faculty, staff, and volunteers,” read the resolution. “Therefore, be it resolved that the Canyons Board of Education expresses its deepest appreciation for the outstanding contributions made by Mr. Sherril Taylor during his decade of distinguished public service in support of Canyons School District.”
“He was born of wisdom, wit and a big heart," Nancy Tingey, the Board's 1st Vice President, told the Valley Journal. "He truly loves children and educators and makes every effort to serve the community. He leads by helping others be successful. He ensures everyone is comfortable to speak and he values the voice of his fellow board members."
Amber Shill, the 2nd Vice President, echoed those sentiments: “He will be missed by our Canyons District family,” she said.
As a member of the first-ever Board of Education, Taylor played a major role in the historic creation of Canyons, the first new school district to be created in Utah in nearly a century. He also helped oversee the division of $1.5 billion in assets of the former Jordan District, and the arbitration agreement that established CSD’s financial foundation. He was instrumental in the hiring of two superintendents and business administrators, the passage of two general-obligation bonds to build and improve schools in all corners of the District, and the approval of a progressive salary schedule to hire and retain the best teachers for CSD.
Taylor is the longest-serving member of the Board in the history of Canyons District.
During his tenure, he always served in a leadership role, either as President or Vice President. But, his fellow Board members said, he may be most remembered for always having the welfare of students foremost in mind and cultivating learning environments where everyone feels welcome, supported and free to innovate and try hard things.
"I respect his integrity and honesty and the way he interacts with people,” said Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. “He’s been a strong leader of the Board, and what I have seen him accomplish is quite a legacy. He will be dearly missed.”
As Taylor steps away from service, four Board members prepare to start four-year terms. Incumbents Shill, Clareen Arnold, and Steve Wrigley were re-elected to their seats and Amanda Oaks was elected to fill Taylor’s old seat. The public is invited to a swearing-in ceremony for Shill, Arnold, Wrigley and Oaks on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 5 p.m. at Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East.