If you didn’t already know she was Hillcrest High’s new head soccer coach, you might have mistaken Kyra Peery for one of her players at Thursday’s meet-and-greet with prospective team-members and parents. The former college athlete stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her team captains whom she invited on stage to explain goals for the coming year, their easy banter a mark of their growing camaraderie.

“My passion for coaching is fueled by the energy that these girls bring to the program,” she said.

Hillcrest is getting a new school and a new soccer program to match. Crews break ground next summer on a rebuild of the home of the Huskies, which will include a new, state-of-the-art fieldhouse.

“Girls are going to want to come here to play soccer. We’re looking for athletes that are committed to soccer, committed to the program and committed to becoming one pack, one goal,” said Peery, who comes with years of experience as an all-conference cross country rPeerykids.jpgunner and starting midfielder at William Penn University.

This will be Peery’s first year as head coach, but she is no stranger to the team, having served as their assistant coach for three years. She’s married to Brock Peery, a popular math teacher who doubles as the team’s fitness coach. The duo will share duties with goalie coach Dan Pia, and two assistant coaches, Laura Benson and Robin Cecil, a Doctor of Physical Therapy who will bring a focus on injury prevention.

Peery is coaching to win, but not by chasing the leaderboard, said Assistant Principal Justin Matagi. “She’s coaching to build a winning team, which means putting the well-being and development of her players first.”

To build a strong junior varsity pipeline, Peery and her coaching team will prioritize skills-building, teamwork and strength and conditioning. Once players reach the varsity level, they’ll be expected to earn their time on the field. But the emphasis will always be on player development and teamwork. “That’s important. The confidence that comes from being part of a team is what enables you to do hard things. It empowers you, and you can pour this competitive edge that you peeryportrait.jpgdevelop in soccer into anything you do,” Peery told her players.

To build pride and a winning attitude, the coaches are expecting players to always wear their practice uniforms, black shorts and a gray shirt. To build up the team’s resilience, they are considering test-piloting a sports injury prevention program. And they’ll be using a popular app to keep in close communication with everyone, including parents.

“We’re lucky to have her,” Matagi said. “Just in the past month to see the energy and organization that Coach Peery and the others have brought has been amazing.”

With off-season just around the corner, there’s not a minute to lose, Peery said. “It starts here and it starts now.”
Checkmate! The Mount Jordan Mountaineers raised a flag of victory at the summit of Canyons District’s Middle School Intramural Chess Tournament.

At the end of the Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 tourney, the team from Mount Jordan Middle, coached by Stephen Gordon, ended Midvale Middle’s five-year win streak at the annual competition for the district’s best teen players of the Royal Game. 

The Midvale Trojans finished in second place. Third place was captured by the Butler Middle Bruins. All eight Canyons District middle schools fielded teams for the contest. 

Union Middle Assistant Principal Taylor Hansen, who is overseeing the middle school intramurals competitions this year, said the competitors were well-prepared and displayed exemplary sportsmanship. “There was spirited competition during each round and on every board,” Hansen said.

The following are individual board winners: 
  • 1st Board: Midvale Middle’s Conner Nelson
  • 2nd Board: Mount Jordan Middle’s Asiah Collinson
  • 3rd Board: Midvale Middle’s Cooper Nelson
  • 4th Board: Butler Middle’s Jack Baird
  • 5th Board: (Tie) Mount Jordan’s Oliver Page and Midvale Middle’s Jason Mun
  • 6th Board: Mount Jordan’s Alan Zamora

The CSD middle-school intramural contests were created in 2009 to encourage sixth- through eighth-grade student participation in athletic and extracurricular competitions. The District also sponsors a cross-country meet, a 3-on-3 hoops tournament and a soccer championship.
Gail Miller may refer to herself as an "unwitting businesswoman." She may be unassuming and understated. But don't underestimate this quiet titan, activist and philanthropist.

When her husband, Larry H. Miller died from complications of diabetes in 2009, she could have sold the family's business empire: some 60 car dealerships and a handful of professional sports teams, retail properties, movie theaters, and more. "I certainly didn't need the headache of running a business that large, and I didn't need the money," she recalls. But she felt responsible for perpetuating the family legacy, its founding principles and its philanthropic efforts.

"I am a businesswoman, not because I chose to be one, but because I decided to continue on the path that Larry and I started 39 years ago," she said Wednesday speaking to a roomful of teen participants in Canyons District's 8th annual Job Shadow Day. "For as long as I'm able or have anything to say about the Larry H. Miller Group of companies, I will continue to promote the values upon which it was built and continue our commitment to make the communities where we do business better places to live, to work and to play."
Millerside.jpg Every year in February, a cohort of CSD students get a chance to spend half-a-day shadowing professionals in fields, such as, marketing, architecture, public works, medicine, or finance —and then network with their sponsors over lunch. This year about 100 students and 40 companies took part in the event, which marks the beginning of Career and Technical Education Month.

Gail Miller, who headlined the luncheon at the Gathering Place at Gardner Village, commended the high school-age students for taking advantage of opportunities to test-drive professions before enrolling in college or launching into their careers. Nevertheless, she encouraged them to embrace future unknowns with the curiosity of a lifelong learner. "Learn everything you can everywhere you go, because it isn't just your schooling that will teach you," Miller said. "Every experience you have is an opportunity to grow and learn and enrich your life."

Gail and Larry Miller had five children under the age of 12 when they moved from Colorado to Utah to buy their first dealership. Larry, who gotten his start as a parts manager for a Toyota dealership, "worked hard and I worked hard at home raising the family," she said. "Every penny we raised, we saved or invested." With about $80,000 in savings and a loan, the high school sweethearts took a chance — the first of many — and opened their first shop.

Built on a foundation of hard work, integrity and service, their business thrived, and every evening, her husband would come home and give her a detailed accounting of the happenings at work, she said. "I gained a lot of institutional knowledge just by watching and listening. …He was preparing me for a time that I would take on a different role and I would become a steward of our efforts."

Of course, there were plenty of knowledge gaps to fill after her husband passed away. But guided by a willingness to learn and some foundational principles, which she shared Wednesday with students, Miller found her footing. Aside from steering the company, she has overseen million-dollar philanthropic investments in education and diabetes research and helped manage the transfer of the company's ownership of the Utah Jazz to a family trust to ensure the team stays in Utah. She sits on numerous prestigious boards and is co-chair of the Our Schools Now ballot initiative that aims to raise taxes to prop up the funding of Utah's public schools.

Don't forget your roots, because that's where your values originate, she told students. Have a long-term plan and work hard to achieve it. Treat everyone with respect. Share what you have and what you know. Learn something new every day. Use money wisely and don't become a slave to it. Don't be afraid to lead. "I think fear is something that, especially for women, holds people back," she explained.

But most importantly, she said, "Wherever you go and whatever you do, do something that makes a difference."

The calendar may say we’re headed into the month in which we celebrate presidents and valentines, but it’s also time to start thinking about where your preschool-age kiddo could go to preschool in the fall. 

Don’t underestimate the power of play when looking for a preschool for your child, says Terri Mitchell, the Programs Administrator in Canyons District’s Early Childhood Department. “Playtime is amazingly important. It’s one of the best tools that young children have to grow and develop,” Mitchell recently told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark on “Good Morning Utah.”  

In fact, Mitchell said, research shows strong links between creative and imaginative play and language, physical, cognitive and social development. “In preschool, they are learning foundational skills. They will learn patterning, and the quantity of numbers,” Mitchell said. “They also have the opportunity to learn socially.  It may be the first time that they are away from mom and dad and grandma and grandpa.”

As is tradition in Canyons District, robust preschool programs will be provided to the community in the 2018-2019 school year. On Thursday, Feb. 1, CSD will begin accepting applications for spots at preschools at Altara, Bella Vista, Butler, Edgemont, Jordan Valley, Oakdale, Quail Hollow and Willow Springs elementary schools.  Interested? Click here to see the application.

Canyons preschools follow a curriculum that lines up with the core standards of learning at the kindergarten level. This is so that the children who leave preschool have the foundation to meet the challenges of kindergarten. Also, students will be paired in classrooms with students who require special-education services so they can serve as peers and role models in language and social skills 

Cost is $100 per month for students attending two days per week and $200 a month for students attending four days. There’s also a one-time $20 registration fee. Availability for the program in the coming academic year is based on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Morning sessions are from 8:20-10:50 a.m. Afternoon sessions are 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.  

In addition, free school programs are provided at Title I schools. Students who turn 4 years old before Sept. 1, 2018, and live within the boundaries of Midvale, Copperview, Sandy and East Midvale elementary schools can apply to participate. CSD will being taking applications for spots in those preschools on March 1.
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."
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