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The City of Midvale has officially expressed support for a school improvement bond that Canyons District is asking voters to consider on Election Day.

“The City Council feels it is in the best interests of the City and its residents to support the Bond Proposal,” which would generate funds without raising taxes to “rebuild and remodel several schools as well as install windows and skylights for natural lighting at several more schools,” reads a resolution approved by the Midvale City Council on Sept. 19. The resolution was signed by all five council members and Mayor JoAnn Seghini.

Canyons District has made strides toward addressing $650 million in repair and safety upgrade needs inherited from a predecessor school district in 2009. Next fall’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle will be the 13th and final project promised to voters as part of a 2010 bond. Passing a second bond would allow the District to improve and modernize an additional 27 schools benefitting 17,000 children, while adequately planning for growth.

A detailed list of the improvement projects that would be made possible by the bond can be found on CSD’s website.



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The recognized parent group for Canyons’ schools has endorsed the District’s $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal that voters are being asked to consider this Election Day. 

The Board of the Canyons’ Region 17 PTA, which encompasses all Parent-Teacher and Parent-Teacher-Student Associations within the District, voted Tuesday, Sept 12 to publicly support the measure, which would generate funds to build and renovate schools. 

The endorsement reflects the trust and support that Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Draper, Midvale and Alta families have placed in our schools, teachers and staff, said CSD Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. “We are fortunate to live in a forward-thinking community that puts children first and that values education.”

Canyons District has made strides toward addressing $650 million in repair and safety upgrade needs inherited from a predecessor school district in 2009. Next fall’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle will be the 13th and final project promised to voters as part of a 2010 bond. Passing a second bond would allow the District to improve and modernize an additional 27 schools benefitting 17,000 children.

“The success of our children is directly linked to the success of our schools. All Canyons District students deserve safe and healthy learning environments wired for the demands of today’s high-tech educational standards,” said PTA Region 17 Director Tonya Rhodes said. “The Board of Education has wisely committed to turn dirt in every corner of the District while focusing on the oldest schools with the highest-priority safety needs, and they’re designing the bond so that it won’t raise property taxes. It’s a fiscally-sensible plan that will benefit generations of children to come.”

A detailed list of the improvement projects that would be made possible by the bond can be found on CSD’s website.
When Thurl Bailey enters the room, it’s hard not to pay attention. The retired NBA star who played for the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves stands at 6 foot 11 inches, so when he speaks, people tend to listen — especially if you’re under 4 feet tall and going to elementary school. 

But Crescent Elementary is hoping when Bailey comes to speak at a Watch DOGS rally at the school from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19 that the students aren’t the only ones who are inspired. Principal Camie Lloyd is counting on all of the fathers in the audience to feel the fire, too.

Thurl1.jpg “(Thurl Bailey) has a foundation where he is trying to encourage men to get more active in their communities and help them be a more positive role model,” Lloyd said. “It’s really nice to see male figures take a leading role and show it’s OK to display those types of attributes.”

Lloyd asked Bailey to come speak to the school, 11100 S. 230 East, as a kick-off to a new school year and recruit new blood to volunteer as part of the Watch DOGS program, which stands for Dads of Great Students. The program calls on men in the community, namely fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles and other father figures, to volunteer in the classroom at least one day out of the year. Students who don’t have a strong male figure in the home can particularly benefit from seeing men in the classroom cheering them on. 

WatchDOGS volunteers can help in a number of ways at the school, from assisting students in the morning as they cross the street, to reading one-on-one with a struggling student, to eating lunch and playing at recess with students. “Many school principals have reported that the mere presence of a WatchDOG dad dramatically reduces reports of bullying,” according to the WatchDOGS website, www.fathers.com/watchdogs.

Each school that features the program appoints one man as the “Top Dog,” and he is tasked with organizing a working schedule for all interested volunteers. At Crescent, usually one WatchDOG is at the school every day of the school year. Missing a day of work to spend time at the school can be a sacrifice for dads, says Wesley Tillman, Top Dog at Crescent, but the sacrifice is worth it.

“It literally takes money out of their pockets to come do that,” Tillman says. “But I say your son or your daughter is never going to forget it. They are always going to remember the day their dad came to school. That’s cooler than taking your kid to Lagoon.”

Want to get involved? The following schools in Canyons District have WatchDOGS programs. Please contact the main office of the school for contact information.

Altara
Brookwood
Butler
Crescent 
Draper
East Midvale
Midvale
Midvalley
Oakdale
Ridgecrest
Sunrise
A teacher committed to seeing that all students thrive, no matter the difficulties they face. A lawmaker who knows public education from the inside out. An administrator who is boosting student achievement one apple at a time. Two mayors who put their reputations on the line to support the creation of the first new school district in Utah in 100 years.

These are but a few of the 12 outstanding individuals and community partners to be honored Sept. 12, 2017 at CSD's eighth annual Apex Awards banquet. The Apex Award is the highest honor given by Canyons District's administration and the Board of Education. It is reserved for the makers, shakers and disrupters who have contributed to neighborhood schools in extraordinary ways, and who have made a lasting difference.

Winners are selected following a months-long public nomination process and were announced at a by-invitation-only dinner at The Gathering Place at Gardner Village.

"We host this event every year to pay tribute to those in our community who have stood should-to-shoulder with us as we have worked to deliver a world-class education," said Board President Sherril Taylor. "Whether your jobs are in a classroom or at the State Capitol, you have taken to heart the sentiments that it takes a village to raise a child, that many hands make light work, that teamwork, as so eloquently stated by Andrew Carnegie, 'is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.'"

The 2017 Apex Award winners are:


Andrew Fosse
2017 Apex Award winner for Teacher of the Year

The fun in Union Middle teacher Drew Fosse's class begins at the door, where he greets each student individually and chats with them about their lives and hobbies — and it gets better from there. He keeps his students engaged in a way that inspires his fellow teachers, even if it's just through the sounds that drift through Fosse's door and down the hallway. Fosse began his teaching career 10 years ago in a tiny Oregon town. After living in other small towns and working as an administrator at a school for teens who have been hospitalized for mental illnesses, he returned to teaching, received a special education endorsement and moved to Union Middle where he now oversees a mainstream classroom. His goal is to make sure that all of his students thrive in his class, no matter what difficulties they face. "I want them to be brave," Fosse says. "I want them to feel it's better to go ahead and open up your mouth and realize, yeah, you might look stupid, but it doesn't matter. If you can be brave enough to try different things, you can be brave enough to realize you can make mistakes and keep trying." It's for these reasons, and many more, that Drew Fosse is being honored by the Canyons Board of Education as the 2017 Apex Award winner for Teacher of the Year.

Alta View Elementary Principal Karen Medlin
2017 Apex Award winner for School Administrator of the Year

Don't let Karen Medlin's meek and mild-mannered demeanor fool you. Although she's as warm and welcoming as her smile suggests, she also possesses stronger-than-steel strength and determination. On any given day, she'll take a minute from her busy schedule to hug first-graders who come running to her in the hallways, arms outstretched, only to turn around and have frank yet friendly conversations with the workers who are finishing the landscaping at her new school. The principal of Alta View Elementary has spent the past several years working with architects and construction workers on the facility. She's pored over designs, taken input from teachers, listened to parents, and followed her heart as she led the charge to build a school in White City that would stand as a beacon for light and learning for decades to come. Her smile rarely faltered, not even during the dusty and muddy year of construction, when the school community made way for the tractors and trucks on the building site. But she's a survivor in so many ways, and she knew that tough times don't last for long. This fall, when students entered the new school for the first time, excited for a year of learning, it was apparent that Medlin's hard work and dedication — and all done with the smile — was worth it. The Board of Education is pleased to present the 2017 Apex Award for School Administrator of the Year to Karen Medlin.

Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas
2017 Apex Award winner for District Administrator of the Year

When Sebasthian Varas looks at an apple, he doesn't see a fruit that falls from a tree. He sees a well-contained vessel of nutrition that would serve nicely as part of lunch or breakfast. Varas, who has served as Canyons' Director of Nutrition Services since the founding of the District in 2009, knows that students can't learn if they are hungry. Armed with that belief, he works hard to provide delicious and nutrient-dense foods in Canyons' cafeterias and classrooms. Long before former first lady Michelle Obama rolled out her national healthy school-lunch initiative, Varas was at the forefront of making vast improvements to the quality of school meals served in Canyons' cafeterias. He removed deep-fat fryers from kitchens, changed recipes to include whole-grain breads, and pushed forward with his vision of seeing lunchrooms full of children munching happily on tasty fruits and vegetables. Under his guidance, the CSD Nutrition Services Department has piloted successful in-class breakfast programs, worked with the Utah Dairy Council on a campaign to promote milk consumption, and gently and respectfully worked with families on applications for free and reduced- price meals for their children. It's for these reasons, and more, that the Board of Education is pleased to present the 2017 Apex Award for District Administrator of the Year to Sebasthian Varas.

Susan Henrie, Instructional Specialist
2017 Apex Award winner for Student Support Services Professional of the Year

Like education, great writing ignites the imagination. It commands your attention. You get lost in it, and when you must put it down, you can't wait to pick it back up and read it all over again. Indeed, Susan Henrie has sparked a passion for writing instruction within veteran and new teachers alike that has rapidly spread across Canyons District. As the District's lead English language arts specialist, Susan and her team of instructional coaches have spent years collaboratively honing tools, classroom materials, and grading rubrics to make teaching literacy easier and more fun. It helps that she has plenty of classroom experience as an educator of 35 years. Her calm and friendly demeanor engenders trust and inspires her trainees to risk trying new techniques. Her own desire to learn and improve is contagious as she searches for new ways to lighten the burden of principals and teachers and support them in achieving their visions and goals. She makes a difference for them so they can make a difference for children, and it shows in students' soaring progress and confidence. For these reasons and more, Susan Henrie has been selected as the 2017 Apex Award winner as Student Support Services Professional of the Year.

Erica Haugen
2017 Apex Award winner for Education Support Professional of the Year

There are many things Erica Haugen is willing to do to help out at Peruvian Park Elementary School, but being the center of attention isn't one of them. Even though Haugen, in her humble, dedicated way, is seemingly everywhere at the school, she says she's far more comfortable working behind the scenes or playing a supporting role. She also isn't motivated by public accolades or applause. Instead, her prize is quietly working at what she calls the "most rewarding job I've ever done in my life." Haugen started at Peruvian Park four years ago as a neighborhood mom who served on the PTA board, the School Community Council, and in the classroom. She is the school's new behavioral assistant, but she continues to fill her former roles in the copy room and as an outside recess aide because she sees the need. Haugen serves wherever she is needed, and she delights in wearing many hats. She gives love to students who need attention and she lights up when her young friends run up to her to visit before hitting the playground during valuable recess time. Haugen's helpfulness, her school spirit, and her multifaceted ability to assist others are all reasons why she has been selected as the 2017 Apex Award winner for Education Support Professional of the Year.

Jennifer Bagley
2017 Apex Award winner for Education Support Professional of the Year

Ask Jennifer Bagley what it takes to be an amazing elementary school administrative assistant and she'll tell you this secret: when in doubt, grab an ice bag. Bagley handles bumps and bruises at Bell View Elementary, but she also helps teachers, administrators, struggling students, sad students, the lunch lady, and even the librarian. And she's learned that ice is the cure-all for anything. Of course, she also doles out plenty of love, attention and care to everyone who walks through Bell View's door. When Bagley started at Bell View Elementary 11 years ago, her three sons were students there. She helped as a room mother, was the PTA president, a kindergarten aide, second-grade aide, resource aide and now head secretary. She is known as the first person to arrive and she handles the myriad of needs that arise throughout the day with ease, administering a band-aid here, arranging for an emergency substitute there. She is known as the "light" of the school, an "all-purpose support hero." Parents love the care she takes to east their apprehensive children into school for the day and coworkers appreciate her positive attitude, thoughtful cards and sense of humor. For all of these reasons and more, Jennifer Bagley has been selected as the 2017 Apex Award winner for Education Support Professional of the Year.

Rep. Marie Poulson
2017 Apex Award winner for Elected Official of the Year

From her seat in the Capitol, Rep. Marie Poulson has a fascinating vantage point on public education. Nearly half of the state's budget supports schools and the 34,000 educators and 634,000 children who spend their days teaching and learning there. But it is Poulson's in-the-trenches experience — 20-plus years of teaching every grade level from preschool to high school — that bring perspective to her policy-making and makes her such a valuable member of Utah's citizen Legislature. Colleagues trust the Cottonwood Heights Democrat to anticipate the unintended consequences of the bills they debate. Teachers, parents and students rely on her to give voice to their concerns and interests. So, it's perhaps not surprising that Poulson has developed a knack for reaching across the aisle to build consensus around some of the thorniest issues in education, from year-end testing requirements to the state's school grading system. Her secret? Poulson practices the civic-mindedness she preached in the classroom by actively seeking out different viewpoints and striving to find common ground. Education, she insists, is not a partisan issue, and public schools are worth fighting for. For her ardent advocacy and impassioned public service, Rep. Marie Poulson has been selected as the 2017 Apex Award winner for Elected Official of the Year.

RizePoint
2017 Apex Award winner for Business Partner of the Year

When students in Canyons District schools wish that they could study lasers and light or learn about colonizing Mars, one company is ready to help make those dreams become a reality. Thanks to RizePoint, a Cottonwood Heights-based software company that's dedicated to furthering the study of science, technology, engineering and math in schools, students have a chance to expand their world outside of the classroom. For two years, RizePoint, a global leader in providing software solutions in the marketplace, has donated $5,000 to the Canyons Education Foundation to provide scholarships for students to attend STEM camps over the summer. As a result, more than 20 students have attended the camps of their choice, learning about such topics as space, computer science, and oceanography. RizePoint has shown a commitment to help Canyons' students on every level, through scholarships and by volunteering in the classroom. Their commitment to supporting students in meaningful ways is chief among the reasons that RizePoint has been selected as the 2017 Apex Award winner for Business Partner of the Year.

Rayna Drago
2017 Apex Award winner for Volunteer of the Year

In college, Rayna Drago studied to be an astronaut. She has worked as a police officer, and for five years portrayed one on television as an actress for the popular daytime drama "General Hospital." But if you want to catch Rayna Drago in her most recent starring role, you'll find her at Canyon View Elementary volunteering, fundraising, tutoring and mentoring — and you'll have to sprint to keep up. "Runnin' Rayna," as she's become known, redefined the role of PTA President, all without the benefit of prior experience and also while juggling the demands of raising her kindergarten-age son. With her weekly communications to parents and "I got it" attitude, she harnessed the good will of a community and put it to work supporting students, teachers and staff. An avid marathoner, she started a Girls on the Run program. She also helped launch family movie nights, book swaps, and other enrichment programs at Canyon View. In addition, when needed, she fills in as an aide or substitute teacher. There's nothing she can't or won't do to strengthen her neighborhood school and open up opportunities for students. In recognition of and appreciation for her willingness to so selflessly share her many talents, Rayna Drago has been selected by the Canyons Board of Education as the 2017 Apex Volunteer of the Year.

Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini
Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore
2017 Apex Award winner for the Legacy Award

In the years since the official launch of Canyons, there have been few stronger supporters of Canyons District than Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini and Cottonwood Height Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. Seghini and Cullimore were among the very first to put their reputations and mayoral legacies on the line when they publicly backed the ballot proposal that would create a new school district for the southeastern part of the Salt Lake Valley. To be sure, the two longtime mayors saw — and embraced — a vision for public education in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. They sought to help build an education system that worked hand-in-hand with municipalities; focused on increasing student-learning levels while also reducing the achievement gap; promoted community engagement, and built modern and welcoming campuses. The duo refused to backtrack, even when political dissension flared and public talk turned personal. They were — and are — steadfast in their care and concern for all children in CSD. Today, one decade after the successful vote to create the District, Canyons is considered a success story in so many ways. But it's a story that would not have been possible without the leadership, tenacity, and foresight of Cullimore and Seghini. It's for these reasons, and many more, that it's the honor of the Canyons Board of Education to award the 2017 Legacy Award to Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini and Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore.

External Affairs Director Charlie Evans
2017 Apex Award winner for the Legacy Award

There are a few key moments from world history highlighted on the wall of Charlie Evans' office: a view of the earth from Apollo 13, a view of soldiers heading into the battle of Dunkirk, and an image of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address. To Evans, these are moments of inspiration — moments that required courage and dedication. Those are the same qualities Evans brings to battle day after day on behalf of the students in Canyons District. Through his efforts as Canyons' Director of External Relations, Evans has worked behind the scenes to fight proposed legislation that would have funneled millions away from Canyons' classrooms. He influences policy at the local and regional level, and fosters collaborative relationships with representatives in the Legislature and nearby municipalities. Under his leadership, Canyons District passed a $250 million bond at the height of a Great Recession, launched successful fundraising campaigns through the Canyons Education Foundation, and played an integral part of building Canyons' reputation, even against great odds. Evans has indelibly shaped Canyons District through his commitment to Canyons' various constituencies. For these reasons, and more, the Canyons Board of Education is pleased to present to him the 2017 Legacy Award.

Photos from the Apex Awards Banquet

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  • Canyons School District students continue to outperform their Utah peers on most of the SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 13 percentage points.

    It’s an encouraging trend, driven by improved scores on most elementary and middle school tests.

    “We continue to reap the dividends of major initiatives undertaken over the years,” said CSD’s Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson, Ph.D. “The data reflect the quality and hard work of our teachers, as well as the District’s unwavering focus on research-based instructional practices and the high standards embraced by our Board of Education.”

    State SAGE results for the 2016-2017 school year are available for all school districts on the Utah State Board of Education website. 

    Elementary Schools (3-5) 
    In elementary schools, Canyons is well above the state average in all subject areas. The following shows the percentage of elementary students who tested proficient in 2016-2017:

    English: CSD (59 percent), state (46 percent)
    Math: CSD (62 percent), state (51 percent)
    Science: CSD (58 percent), state (49 percent)

    Middle Schools (6-8)
    In middle schools, Canyons is well above the state average in all subject areas. The following shows the percentage of middle school students who tested proficient in 2016-2017:

    English: CSD (53 percent), state (44 percent)
    Math: CSD (49 percent), state (44 percent)
    Science: CSD (62 percent), state (50 percent)

    High Schools
    Canyons District's high school scores for the 2016-2017 school year can’t reliably be compared to the state average, because for the first time, CSD’s 11th graders were not required to take the test. They took the ACT college entrance exam, instead.

    Utah students took the state-mandated Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) tests for the first time in spring 2014. The tests were designed to measure more challenging state standards in mathematics, English language arts, and science. The SAGE tests are one of many measurements of student achievement. Other test data also show rising student achievement in Canyons School District.

    Sanderson credits a number of initiatives, including: moving sixth-graders from elementary school to middle school where they receive more classroom instruction in core subjects; an effort to move teachers out of their silos to work as teams to monitor student progress; extensive professional development (half of all CSD teachers have a master’s degree); and the implementation of daily brain booster classes in art, physical education and STEM give teachers time to collaborate and hone their lesson plans.

    “An ambitious construction plan to upgrade and modernize our schools also likely has played a role,” Sanderson says. “Classrooms built in the sixties and seventies with two electrical outlets are not conducive to the computerized demands of 21st century learning.”
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