A Merry Canyons Christmas
The lovely thing about Christmas, says writer Garrison Keillor, is “that’s it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” Charles Dickens, whose Ebenezer Scrooge is among the most timeless of all Christmas-story characters, reminds us that it is this time of year, these happy egg nog and yule log days of winter, that can “win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!” And, indeed, as Washington Irving wrote, the season is truly about “kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial fire of charity in the heart.”
It’s been inspiring to see the acts of charity — both big and small — gladly and cheerfully planned and executed by Canyons students, faculty and staff. Here are just a few of the service projects that have been done in the last few weeks to benefit The Road Home, a wonderful organization in our community that provides shelter for the homeless.
- Copperview Elementary held a food drive for three weeks. During that time, the school collected more than 2,100 food items. The goods were delivered Monday.
- Brookwood Elementary’s faculty held a “Books, Blankets, Bookmarks and a Bite” service project for The Road Home. Faculty and staff cut and tied fleece blankets, then wrapped each blanket with a ribbon — and then added a book.
- Bell View Elementary students collected winter clothes for the shelter — coats, hats, gloves, boots and scarves. The goal was to collect 1,000 items. In all, children at the school, led by the student council, collected 1,237 items.
- Oakdale Elementary second-grade students collected hats, mittens, gloves and scarves after reading “The Mitten Tree,” which is about woman who knits a pair of mittens for a boy she sees without any to cover his cold hands. Recognizing a need, she keeps knitting gloves for children and anonymously leaves them in a tree by the bus stop. Then, a Good Samaritan leaves a basket of yarn on her front porch so she can continue giving the mittens to the children.
- East Midvale students raised money to buy fleece with which they made blankets. Each classroom worked together to make the blankets that were delivered this week to The Road Home.
- Employees of the District Office, in lieu of gift exchanges with colleagues, donated clothing, canned goods and cash to the shelter.
Social Security: The Results of the Vote
Canyons School District employees overwhelmingly decided to participate in Social Security, according to the results of a Dec. 9 election.
The Utah Division of Finance, which conducted the vote and tallied the ballots, reported that 92.8 percent of 2,583 eligible voters cast ballots in the Social Security referendum, which resulted in 64.1 percent of voters opting to participate in the Social Security program. Some 860 employees, or 35.9 percent, voted not to participate in Social Security.
A decision was required by federal law. All new governmental agencies participating in a state retirement system must opt in to their state's "Section 218 Agreement" in order to pay into Social Security. Canyons District, created in 2007 by a vote of the people in Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy and which started offering services July 1, 2009, had not yet done so.
The Canyons Board of Education last summer voted to allow employees to determine whether to participate in Social Security.
The time for making New Year’s resolutions is right around the corner.
A program offered through PEHP/Healthy Utah may help as you try to achieve your weight- and fitness-related goals in the coming year. The “Waist Aweigh” weight-loss program will reimburse qualifying participants if they meet certain weight-loss goals. You can participate if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 35 or greater.
Find out more by going to PEHP’s Web site, www.pehp.org
District Office Holiday Hours
In observance of the holidays, the Canyons School District Offices — both the Canyons Administrative Building and the Canyons Support Services Center — will be closed Thursday, Dec. 24 through Sunday, Jan. 3.
Research Assistant: How Much Does Good Teaching Matter?
Last week, an exciting discovery was reported in the area of reading and brain development. Carnegie Mellon University scientists Timothy Keller and Marcel Just demonstrated that intensive instruction developed new white matter in children’s brains. This new brain matter was the result of 100 hours of explicit instruction in reading and work-attack skills.
Evidence demonstrates that a student’s assigned teacher has a much stronger influence on how much he or she learns than other factors, such as class size and composition (see, for example, Sanders and Horn, 1994; Sanders and Rivers, 1996; Wright, Horn and Sanders, 1997; Hanushek, Kain, and Rivkin, 1997).
Students who are consecutively assigned to several highly effective teachers post significantly greater gains in achievement than those who are assigned to less-effective teachers. Furthermore, the influence of each teacher has effects that spill over into later years (Sanders and Rivers, 1996).
The Evidence-Based Learning department wants to wish you all a happy holiday season and thank you for the tenacious teaching that you deliver every day. What you do makes a difference!
Carnegie Mellon University (2009, December 10). First evidence of brain rewiring in children: Reading remediation positively alters brain tissue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209121200.htm
Citations for the other studies are referenced in:
Darling-Hammond, L. and Bransford, J (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pages 13-15.
One Last Thought…
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Canyons School District
9150 S. 500 West
Sandy, Utah 84070
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