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The Canyons Board of Education and Administration grieve for the victims and families affected by Wednesday’s event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. 

Traumatic events such as the incident in Florida are unsettling for everyone, and we want to reassure our communities that Canyons School District has many measures in place to keep kids safe, including regular scenario-based drills.

While we don’t believe there is an immediate threat at any of our schools, the Canyons District security team, including School Resource Officers, are on high alert, and we have asked our principals to be extra vigilant in enforcing our security measures.

We’d like to remind parents that federal data show schools are remarkably safe and getting safer. Schools are the heart of a community, and must often serve as the lynchpin of a community’s response to an array of emergencies. This is where a “safety-first” mindset and emergency-preparedness pay off, and why it’s important that all of us be vigilant.

One of the most effective tools in preventing violence is someone reporting it in advance. Utah schools are fortunate to have at their disposal a mobile app called SafeUT, which allows students and parents to anonymously report safety issues, such as instances of bullying, and threatened violence. The tool is an immediate, direct link to school administrators and licensed counselors. If you need it, here is a link to information about SafeUT, including how to download the app onto your phone. 

In addition, counseling supports can be provided if students or parents are feeling anxious or fearful about the safety of our schools. Please contact your neighborhood school if you feel like your child needs counseling services.

Some parents have asked how they can talk to their children about such tragedies. Please feel free to use these tips, which have been provided by our school psychologists as we’ve responded to school-based tragedies. 

  1. Reassure children they are safe
  2. Make time to talk
  3. Keep explanations developmentally appropriate
  4. Review safety procedures
  5. Observe and monitor your child's emotional state
  6. Limit media coverage of these events
  7. Maintain a normal routine

Please rest assured that Canyons District is committed to providing safe schools.  If you have questions, please call the Canyons Administration Building at 801-826-5000 or send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Two Canyons District educators have joined the elite ranks of teachers to earn a National Board Certification. Phillipe Varnier, a science teacher at Eastmont middle, and Anne Clyde, an achievement coach at Jordan Valley, recently completed the rigorous certification process overseen by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The voluntary program is widely regarded as the gold standard in teacher certification, requiring years of work for completion. “It feels good to be able to get it and to reach that standard,” Varnier said. “I wanted a professional development experience to help push me to the next level. It helped me hone in my teaching practice.”

Varnier and Clyde were recently recognized for their achievement by the Utah State Board of Education, Canyons Board of Education and the Utah Legislature. Statewide, only 269 teachers have the certification, and as of 2011, less than three percent of the nation’s educators have become National Board Certified Teachers.

In Utah, teachers are able to receive reimbursement for the costs associated with the certification process. Through a law passed in 2016, known as Utah Legislative House Bill 331, teachers can be compensated if they meet certain criteria in the certification process. 

The certification is a standard that was established by educators. A task force of policy makers, educators, teacher associations and business leaders combined to create the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and established five core propositions for teaching, which form the basis of the National Board Standards. 

Varnier, who hails from Montreal, Canada, wanted to receive the certification to build on his teaching skills. Through the process, he examined data on his students’ progress and reviewed films of himself teaching his classes. The exercise was enlightening, Varnier says. 
IMG_4215.jpg “The one thing that it made me do is reflect on what I really wanted out of a school,” he said. “I realized as much as I worked hard to support my students, being part of a system I was a good match for made a huge difference as well. I also realized I was doing a lot of the right things, but I wasn’t doing them well enough.”

For Clyde, the certification was a reminder that teaching is a practice, and that learning is a process, not a product. Clyde pursued the certification while she worked on her Master’s degree. “What is really special about the National Board, it doesn’t matter if what you do (in the classroom) passes and has the impact you want to see or if you fail,” Clyde says. “The bigger purpose is to have you learn from the experience and help you to become a more impactful teacher.”

Clyde says she learned she didn’t need to overcomplicate instruction with manipulatives, and that sometimes she needed to allow her students to turn to each other to solve problems. She draws on these lessons to help other teachers at Jordan Valley. “There is so much to learn and it can be so overwhelming, but we put together the goal of, ‘Let’s get these big pieces in place,’ and how are you working with your students and parents,” Clyde says. “Those are the biggest nuggets in learning how to be a great teacher.”
From the first American production of an epic war play to a tale told with fog, gun shots and strobe lights, high school students in Canyons District are hard at work to bring a variety of stellar performances to the stage this spring. You don’t have to travel all the way to New York City to experience the magic of the theater, just head down the street to your closest high school and see one of these timeless plays:

"Dunsinane"
Originally premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Scotland in 2010, David Grieg’s sequel to Macbeth will experience its first all-American production this spring at Hillcrest High School. The play has been performed in the United States, but it was a touring production by the National Theatre of Scotland. Written in modern vernacular, it starts right where Shakespeare left off as a British idealist invades Scotland with his army of young men to establish peace in a foreign country. Peace, however, is not as easy to create as they expect. With a cast of over 120 actors portraying male and female warriors, this modern epic with surprising twists will be performed with a company of students from throughout the school, with a thoughtful exploration of the idea of peace in the modern era. Tickets are $10, though sometimes discounted tickets are available in advance on the school’s website.
When: March 16, 17, 19
Where: Hillcrest High School

"Macbeth"
This classic tale from Shakespeare tells the story of choice and consequence. It chronicles the tale of Macbeth, a Scottish Lord overcome with ambition. He kills the king and takes his place, only to find himself sick with paranoia about maintaining his position. Because of the mature themes of the play, only those age 10 and above are invited to attend. The performance will allow the audience to sit on stage with the performers in the style of a black box theatre. Time period and gender roles are removed to give new perspective to the story, which will be told with fog, gun shots, sword fighting, strobe lights, live sound effects and lots of fun. Tickets are $9.
When: Feb. 21-24 at 7 p.m.
Where: Alta High school auditorium

"The Comedy of Errors"
This Shakespearean play tells the story of Antipholus and his servant, Dromio, who go looking for their long-lost twins, from whom they were accidentally separated at birth. When the pair ends up in the same town as their siblings without knowing it, suddenly everyone is seeing double in this fast-paced comedy of mistaken identity, which ends with the happiest of family reunions. Tickets are $5.
When: Feb 22-24 and 26 at 7 p.m.
Where: Jordan High School

"The Crucible"
"The Crucible" is Arthur Miller’s masterful retelling of the witch trials in Salem Massachusetts. This chilling and poignant story is as relatable and relevant today as it was in 1693 when it occurred and in 1953 when it was written by Miller. All are invited to enjoy this unique and intimate production of this timeless tale. Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for students and children.
When: March 9, 10, 12 at 7 p.m.
Where: Brighton High Auditorium 

"Dr. Faustus"
"Dr. Faustus" is the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil in order to get whatever he wants. Viewers of this play may be inspired to ask themselves, how far would you go to achieve greatness? The performance will also include a presentation of individual pieces used in competition, including monologues, scenes, songs and pantomimes. Tickets are $5.
When: March 16-17 at 7 p.m.
Where: Corner Canyon Little Theatre

"The Beautiful Game"
This rarely performed musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber will have its Utah high school premiere this spring at Hillcrest High. The musical sets rioting in 1970 in Ireland against a backdrop of a high school soccer team, telling a tale that’s part West Side Story, part Newsies. With soaring ballads, an intense narrative and incredible choreography, the performance will feature an incredible evening of dance, soccer, and the fight for a world without violence. Tickets are $10, though sometimes discounted tickets are available in advance on the school’s website.
When: May 17-19
Where: Hillcrest High School
On Monday and Wednesday afternoons, after school lets out for the day and classrooms fall dark and silent, Draper Elementary teachers shed their dress clothes — and daily cares — for tights and t-shirts and head to the gymnasium. For 30 minutes, they sweat, stretch and breathe to the soothing voice of yoga instructor Stephanie Williams who volunteers her time each week to provide these teachers a little time for themselves.

“I love yoga,” she says, “I love teaching yoga.” The 32-year-old hatched the yoga-on-the-go idea over Christmas break with her mother, Draper Elementary Principal Christy Waddell. Williams was looking for a professional outlet that she could squeeze into her busy days as the stay-at-home mom of two young children, and WaddellScreen_Shot_2018-02-09_at_10.21.31_AM.png was looking for a way to squeeze time for yoga into her workday. “I was dealing with some stress-oriented health problems and my doctor recommended yoga, and I thought, ‘Well, my daughter would love that,’” Waddell says.

Yoga offers people more than a retreat from their busy lives. The 3,000-year-old practice enhances personal fitness, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular and respiratory health. Studies have shown it can ease stress, chronic pain, anxiety and depression and promote recovery from injury and addiction. Yoga has even been shown to improve focus and reduce employee burnout — and it doesn’t matter if you’re practicing the cobra pose in a school gymnasium, a studio, or ashram in India.

In fact, bringing yoga to the workplace makes it more convenient and harder for people to make excuses to not give it a try, says Williams, who has been doing yoga since she was 12 and is working toward her certification as an instructor. “It can be daunting to get started. You have to find a yoga studio and the right class, and face the newness of it all alone. But here, everyone can come with their friends and colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere where we can set the pace based on everyone’s comfort level.”

Since December, each class has drawn between 10-20 educators who say it’s helped them feel more mentally balanced and energized. “Even though today was on the stressful side it gave me a chance to relax and do something for myself,” remarked second-grade teacher Madison Ellingson after a yoga session. “I was able to leave [school] and actually get stuff done rather than being wrapped up in the day.”

Said first-grade teacher Tawna Glover in an email of thanks to Waddell, “It really helped my back. I woke up with no pain today.”

What Waddell didn’t expect, however, is how much yoga would contribute to the overall climate of the school. Everyone just seems more relaxed and school seems to function more harmoniously. “We’re like a little family here,” Waddell says.


Canyons District students are learning how to safely blaze a digital trail. 

Starting today, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, all schools in Canyons District will begin the 3rd annual Digital Citizenship Week, which was started to help students stay safe as they navigate the online world. Special lessons will be taught in classes and morning announcements will feature tips on cyberbullying, online privacy and safety. 

Yes, the Internet is a valuable tool for learning. Every day, 92 percent of teenagers across the United States go online to complete homework assignments, conduct research, and watch tutorials in preparation for exams. But, overwhelmingly, it’s also teens go to make and keep social connections. From Snapchat to Instagram, teens are heavy users of social media. So how can parents make sure their use is responsible? And how can parents guide a pre-teen’s entry into social media? 

Digital Citizenship Week 2018“One of the most important things you can do is sit down with your children before they even begin using social media and set clear ground rules and expectations — and even consequences if those rules are broken,” says Janae Hunt, a Canyons District Education Technology Specialist.

Hunt, who appeared on ABC4 to talk about Digital Citizenship Week, encouraged parents to talk often with their children about the pitfalls of oversharing, teasing and posting too-personal information on social media sites.  Also, think twice before hitting “send” or “enter,” she says.   

“Digital footprints are permanent. A lot of time today, even college admissions boards and employers are looking at your digital trail to see what kind of person you are,” she told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark. “It is important that we are teaching our children to put their best foot forward online.” 

Another idea:  Keep tabs on what your children are posting — and who is part of their “Friends” and “Followers” lists. “Sit down with your kids on a regular basis. Go through those lists. It’s important they are friends with or follow people they know in real life.” 

Should you have your kids’ passwords? “Absolutely,” she says.  Start with an open-door policy and keep it that way: Children should know parents are watching and observing when they post or make comments. They also should know they can go to parents for help if they “see something that makes them uncomfortable.”

CSD’s Internet safety effort started with School Community Councils, which have been given statutory responsibilities regarding digital citizenship in their respective schools. In partnership with SCCs, CSD schools also are planning Parent Information Nights to discuss such issues as the filtering systems used by the District to stop inappropriate content to be accessed at school. Contact your child’s school to find out when and where their event will be held. 

Parents, teachers and students can join the online conversation about Digital Citizenship Week by following the hashtag #usetech4good on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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