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Canyons Distict is expanding its high-tech arsenal in the fight to keep children safe.

Elementary schools are rolling out information to their communities about access to the SafeUT app and website, which is an immediate, direct link to licensed counselors at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. Starting Wednesday, Aug. 31, all CSD elementary school communities will have access to SafeUT's services. 

Canyons' secondary schools were among the first in Utah to roll out access to the service last year. The response was instantly positive, and students across the District were using it a a resource to receive real-time and confidential responses from a highy trained clinician. 

The app and website, developed as part of a partnership between UNI and the Utah State Office of Education with funds allocated by the Utah Legislature, serves as confidential tip line about such safety issues as suicide, bullying and threats of violence.

"Twenty-four/seven,whether it's summer break, whether it's over Winter Recess, on the weekends, (students) can immediately get access to somebody that can help them," Tamra Baker, Director of Canyons District's Student Support Services, told ABC4 during a recent interview about the roll-out across the District.

Multiple languages are available. This intervention and emotional support also provides follow-up and responses through user-password protection. Users can submit a tip with a picture and/or video, and a user can communicate online or call by phone.

For the community's ease, here are links to places students and parents can dowload the app: Click here for Google Play and click here to find the app in iTunes. 

Utah ranks 5th in the nation for suicide deaths among 10- to 17-year-olds, and bullying is a risk factor, according to the Utah Suicide Prevention Coaltion. Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. In honor of Suicide Awareness Week, September 5-11, here are some tips for talking about bullying courtesy of stopbullying.gov.




Prepare to soar toward a brilliant future, Hawks.

The Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 embraced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the University of Utah that will give flight to the higher-education aspirations of stellar students attending Alta High School.

A Memo of Understanding between the first new school district to be created in Utah in a century and the Utah’s flagship institution of the state System of Higher Education was approved during the Board of Education’s business meeting at the Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East.

The alliance is the U.’s second academic, early-college partnership with a secondary school. However, it is the tier-one, PAC 12 research institution’s first official collaboration with a traditional, comprehensive public high school.

The Canyons program — called Step2theU — will grant a select cohort of Alta-enrolled students the opportunity to study with University of Utah professors and instructors at the U.’s Sandy Campus. Alta’s administration aims to open the first competitive application process in the coming months. Those selected would need to be prepared to start in summer 2017.

"The Canyons Board of Education is pleased to provide this innovative program to the students of Alta High,” said Board President Sherril H. Taylor. “We’re honored to forge an early-college partnership with such a prestigious university, and we’re thrilled that our students will be given a chance to get a jump-start on their pursuit of post-secondary education. It also serves as just one more reason that we will continue to focus, even with our youngest students, on the importance of being college- and career-ready.”

Hawks seeking to become Utes through the program will submit applications during the fall of their junior years. If accepted, the students will be introduced to Step2theU during a summer-block program. Coursework would begin between the students’ junior and senior years, and provide an opportunity for students to finish one semester of college. Then, in the summer months after high school graduation and before the start of their freshman years, the students would take enough general-education coursework to complete another semester.

In essence, by the time the Alta students reach their first day of school at the U., they would have two complete semesters under their belts.

“This new partnership with Alta High will allow us to put everything we know about student success into a state-of-the-art, early-college experience,” said Ann Darling, Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Studies. “We are excited to work with the great administration and staff at Alta High and Canyons School District and to serve their terrific students in their pathway to college.”

By participating, Principal Brian McGill says, Alta students could possibly save up to $10,000 in tuition, fees and other associated college costs.

The first-ever cohort would be made up of 30-35 students. The target audience of students would include current Alta students who have solid grade-point averages, as well as involvement in Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment classes. However, the students who submit applications will be asked to detail their engagement in school extracurriculars, demonstrate leadership and personal engagement with the community, and declare a preference in continuing their studies at the U.

In addition, McGill said, the program would be heavily marketed to first-generation, minority, and low-income students.

“Canyons District’s mission is to help foster a culture of college- and career-readiness, and this innovative partnership is a way to further fulfill our commitment to our students and the families that are able to participate in this unique academic venture,” said McGill. “We have a vision at Alta High School to be the first comprehensive high school in Utah to create a new hybrid high school framework that embodies the traditional offerings in academics, arts, athletics, and extracurricular activities, combined with a this newly established early college pathway, in partnership with the University of Utah.”
Gretchen Murray jokes that she was an explosives expert before deciding to become a teacher. Murray grew up in a family of educators but fell into a marketing career at a commercial explosives company — a job that fed her wallet, but not her soul.

Seeing her dissatisfaction, Murray’s aunt invited her to drop by her classroom one afternoon.  It was love at first sight. Happily — for the many students at Peruvian Park Elementary she’s influenced — Murray quit her job, enrolled in a master’s of education program, and never looked back.

Her inspiring spirit, dedication to students, and fine-tuned instructional skills are among the reasons that Murray was announced on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 as the Canyons District Teacher of the Year. She was honored during an evening community celebration and recognitions event hosted by the Canyons Board of Education at the Canyons Administration Building-East.  As the Teacher of the Year, she received prizes, gifts and a $1,000 check from the Canyons District Foundation. She also will represent the District in the Utah Teacher of the Year contest.



Murray was chosen from a field of 48 Teachers of the Year who had been nominated from every Canyons school, including the academy at the Utah State Prison, and for the first time, Canyons Virtual High and Canyons’ new alternative high school, Diamond Ridge. Also recognized on Tuesday were the school nominees, semifinalists and two finalists for district Teacher of the Year: Quintana Glover from Draper Elementary and Linda Tognoni from Park Lane Elementary.

Every one of these teachers uses data and evidenced-based teaching strategies to help struggling learners achieve and help advanced learners to stretch even further, remarked Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. But they also are gifted at “the art of teaching.” Each has a special knack for connecting emotionally with students and, in the process, lifting their hearts and minds.

The first day of school in Murray’s classroom starts in a very specific place: the floor. That is where the Peruvian Park Elementary teacher sits in a circle with her students and allows each child to talk about a time when someone hurt their feelings.

For every harsh word uttered, students pound a nail into blocks of wood. Then, as the circle is repeated with positive words and the nails are removed, Murray points out that a hole still remains. “We don’t make holes in our class,” she tells her students.

In Murray’s class, integrity, responsibility and commitment are the norm. Her students consistently make significant progress, as 86 percent of the class scored in the 90th percentile of the M-COMP evaluation this winter, compared to 27 percent in the fall.

Earlier this year, Murray was diagnosed with breast cancer for which she is receiving chemotherapy. But taking a break from teaching wasn’t on the agenda for this devoted educator who says her two young children and her students are what keep her going. Each day, even on the tough ones, she starts her SALTA class with a stirring injunction to make the most of every moment, as her students learn to solve multi-faceted problems, think critically and learn self-mastery.

“One of the eight keys of excellence in my classroom is ‘This is it.’” And what that means is that this moment is the only moment we can control in our life,” she says.  “We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future.  We can be in the present.  This is it.  This is the only one we get.  So let’s have some fun with it, even when it is hard.”

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  • Canyons District parents, principals and students are celebrating educational excellence by honoring a top teacher in each school community. 

    Every Canyons school has followed a seven-year tradition of recognizing a Teacher of the Year for outstanding teaching practices, professionalism, and community involvement.  Those teachers were cheered during surprise announcements made in the days before Spring Recess. See the District’s Facebook page for video and photographs of the celebrations. 

    The school Teachers of the Year for 2016 received gifts and prizes donated by CSD’s generous business partners. The honored teachers also have been nominated for Canyons District Teacher of the Year, a recognitions that includes cash, prizes, and a nomination for the Utah Teacher of the Year award.

    The Board of Education invites the CSD community to the Tuesday, April 26, 2016 special awards ceremony during which the overall District’s Teacher of the Year will be named. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Professional Development Center of the Canyons Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East. 

    Without the expertise and dedication of our amazing teachers, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to prepare the generation of leaders who will leave our schools ready for the rigors and demands of college and the workplace. 

    “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities,” President John F. Kennedy was once quoted as saying, “because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

    Students and teachers at Brighton High on Thursday, March 3 hosted a delegation from France visiting Utah as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

    The aim of the visit, which was arranged as part of CSD’s innovative involvement in the Face to Faith initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, was to engage in a frank dialogue about how faith and religion contribute to culture and society in France and the United States.

    The French diplomats — Ali Dahmani, the director of a mosque; Frederique Neau-Dufour, the director of the European Center of Deported Resistance Members, which is located at a former Nazi concentration camp; and Emmanuel Valency, the rabbi of Bordeaux and southwestern France — told students that, unlike students in America, public-school students in France are prohibited from wearing any garb or jewelry that would signify faith or religion while on campus. For this reason, they said, many religious families in France send their children to private schools.

    Dahmani and Valency also explained through the use of an interpreter that anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment runs rampant in some parts of France. Dahmani said his group is working hard to fight the radicalization of Islam and educate the French nation about “the true face of Islam.” “The problem is,” he said, young adults who have questions about the faith “don’t have adults to turn to (for answers) … Islam is not a religion of violence or hatred. But when they don’t know, they turn to the Internet,” and what they find isn’t always correct or are beliefs espoused by terrorist groups, he said.

    Valency said his organization, in an effort to build bridges across faiths, pairs teenagers of different religions on soccer teams. If the players can’t learn to overcome their differences, he says, then the team loses.

    The group also told students that far-right political groups are creating a climate where hate speech against minority religions is commonplace — and even accepted in many parts of the country. Neau-Dufour said statements are being uttered in public discourse that “would have never been said in public before.” She also said many French observers of U.S. politics are “shocked” that recent statements made by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump about immigrants and Muslims would strike a chord with American voters.

    Trump, she said, reminds many French of the extreme far-right politicians that have recently rolled into power.

    Neau-Dufour also noted interest in the gender of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the fact that she’s married to a former president. “For us, it’s surprising that candidates come from the same family,” she said. She also said it was significant for many French when America chose Barack Obama as the first African-American president.

    The students in teacher Jodi Ide’s class listened respectfully and intently to the delegation, engaged in dialogue about the differences between France and the United States, and answered questions from the French visitors about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They also asked the visitors what they liked the most about Utah. The answer? The state’s snow-capped mountains.

    During the visit, which was attended by Board of Education members Nancy Tingey and Amber Shill, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation retweeted the District’s and school's Twitter coverage of the event.
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