“It’s been since then, of going to the reservation, that I started to work with American Indian students in a different fashion,” he says. “I think it gave me a greater understanding of the cultural background and belief systems.”
Shirley’s dedication to the college- and career-readiness of American Indian students in Canyons District is chief among the reasons he was given a Human Rights Award from the Utah School Counselors Association. The award, in the School Counselor category, was announced Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 at the association’s fall conference, held at Salt Lake Community College's Miller Campus.
Shirley says he’s especially enjoyed being a part of the success of the District’s Academic Collaboration of American Indian Students after-school program, now in its second year. The aim is to provide opportunities for American Indian students to gather, associate and receive guidance related to college- and career-readiness.
Students in the program are asked to attend eight evening workshops. The workshops, to which parents are invited, vary in topic from how to submit college applications to community leadership. Scholarships funded by American Indian community partners are available for students who complete all eight sessions. “The best part of this is that it’s bringing in American Indian parents,” Shirley says. “Parents are becoming involved in the program. There’s a lot of dedication on the part of the students and the parents.”
Shirley’s duties at the District also include working with the refugee population and assisting at CSD’s four schools that have received a Title I designation because of challenging socio-economic factors. “It was an honor” to receive the award, he said. “It was really more of an honor to be recognized among the other recipients … To be honored among that caliber of people, that was the best part.”
Union Middle School students, educators and leaders, as well as Canyons District's superintendency and academic leadership, last month hosted a tour of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Martell Menlove. The visit gave Union an opportunity to showcase Utah's premier sixth-grade STEAM curriculum — a marriage of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — approved by the State Board of Education last spring for implementation in Canyons School District. The sixth-graders also showed off the robots they designed as part of their STEAM class' robotics and space science challenge.
"To be the one middle school chosen was a big deal, and to show off our great kids and great teachers was a big deal," Union Principal Mary Anderson, the 2013 Utah Middle School Principal of the Year, said of Menlove's visit. "Our students did a great job presenting themselves as ambassadors of our school."
Dr. Menlove visited the school Oct. 24, 2013, as part of efforts to view the innovations within and keep in contact with the professionals who work in Utah classrooms, the State Office of Education reports.
Dr. Menlove also was introduced to the District's innovative middle school model, which, in addition to STEAM, includes implementation of PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports), reconfigured grades, a model reading program, and a flexible schedule that increases instructional time in core subjects while allowing numerous elective opportunities. He also observed teacher's instructional strategies in social studies, math, and English language arts classes. Later, Canyons Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode hosted Dr. Menlove and neighboring superintendents for a lunch discussion.
The new Mount Jordan Middle is made possible by a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. The new school will have a state-of-the-art auditorium; a 180-seat lecture hall; hallways and classrooms filled with natural light; an expanded cafeteria and spacious commons area; a gymnasium with two full courts, 14 basketball hoops, large locker rooms, fitness rooms dedicated to dance and strength training, and an elevated indoor running track with a special surface for running; and a performing arts suite for choir and band practices.
Students and staff temporarily have relocated to the former Crescent View Middle, 11150 S. 300 East, while their new school is under construction. The new school is scheduled to open in fall 2015.
Only one school in each district of the league attains this designation each year. Once a school achieves the award, it has to wait five years before it can be eligible for the award again.
Out of more than 3,000 member schools nationwide, Hillcrest is one of only 109 schools to receive the Leading Chapter Award.
Principal Sue Malone says the award reflects 619 members and degrees over 12 years. In that time, she says, several hundred students have been taught communication, analysis, leadership, and social skills.
Congratulations to current Hillcrest National Forensic League adviser Mark Doherty and the past and present students involved in competitive speech and debate.
As the school psychologist at Midvale Elementary, he dedicates his hours to counseling students, handling unexpected student-behavior crises, communicating with families, and completing the reams of required paperwork. While he may start his day with a plan, he’s rarely able to stick to it. “There’s always a curveball,” he says with a laugh.
“But that’s the cool part. It’s part of the fun,” says Matson, who has been at Midvale for a decade. Parents note that Matson has a calming influence on anxious children at the Title I school. He’s there when children need a soothing voice, a sounding board, a safety net when they need someone in whom they can confide.
Matson is one of CSD’s 44 school psychologists, the trained and certified professionals who have the important task of counseling and mentoring students who may struggle with behavioral, emotional or social issues. The work of school psychologists is highlighted this school week, Nov. 11-15. The National School Psychology Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists.
The theme of the week, as established by the association, is “We are all in! Teams work!” The aim is to focus on teaming to improve every child’s educational experience. “I try to help students, parents, and teachers to be happier and more successful,” says Matson. “I think that’s our job.”
“Our school psychologists truly are a valuable part of our efforts to increase student achievement,” said Robin Collett, CSD’s Director of Special Education. “They do so much to support our students, and not just when the students are in crisis. When students feel safe, secure and confident in their abilities, they can learn. On a daily basis, the school psychologists do a phenomenal job of helping students see and develop their potential. I'm proud of the work they do, and I'm glad they are a part of our team.”