We’re cooking up plans to increase student learning — and the recipe can only get better with a healthy school-to-home connection. So spend a few minutes to dash off some thoughts about how Canyons schools are doing.

Don’t hold back, even if it’s a little salty.

But if we’re doing something right, give us some sugar, as well. 

We want to hear it all.  Only by working together can we find the “secret sauce”  that will lead to savory student success. 

This input can be provided on a survey seeking Canyons parent feedback. A link to the survey was sent on Monday, Nov. 11 to the contact information provided by parents during online registration for the 2019-2020 school year.

The District will take input through the online survey until Nov. 30.  Parents who did not receive an email link can call Canyons District’s Help Desk at 801-826-5544 for assistance. 

The nine questions on the survey cover school climate, academic support of children, and whether the school communicates appropriately with the community. 

Parents also can provide comments after responding to every question. The answers are anonymous unless parents identify themselves for a follow-up by school administrators. 

Canyons District issues the survey to parents as part of educators’ evaluations.  The data is used by District and school administrators to address needs, hone processes and recognize improvements. 


RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY: For sharing your thoughts, Canyons District’s Nutrition Services Department is sharing tasty recipes for a successful Thanksgiving meal.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Cake
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2/3 t cinnamon
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/8 cup milk
  • 1 t vinegar
  • 2 t butter
  • 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract
  • Milk as needed
Combine vinegar and milk.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Blend sugar, eggs, oil, pumpkin and milk mixture until smooth.  Combine dry and wet ingredients.  Mix on low speed of mixer and do not over-mix.  Combine just until blended.  Bake in 9x13 pan that has prepared with vegetable spray and floured.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cooking time may vary.  When a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean it is done.  Cool cake completely before frosting. Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and as much milk as is necessary to make the frosting of spreading consistency.

School Bread Stuffing
  • 2.5 oz. yellow onion
  • 2.5 oz. celery
  • 2.5 oz. butter
  • 2 cups water
  • .5 oz. chicken base paste
  • 1/8 t. black pepper
  • 1/3 t. poultry seasoning
  • 5/8 loaf sandwich bread
Cube and dry bread ahead of time. The drying will take at least overnight.  Dice onions and celery. Sauté onions and celery in butter until tender-crisp.  Add water, chicken base and seasonings to sautéed vegetables, heat until hot.  Add vegetable mixture, toss lightly until thoroughly mixed.  Avoid over-mixing, which causes dressing to be soggy and compact.  Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Add stuffing to pan.  Cover will foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Yields 8 half cup servings.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Academic Indicators

Canyons District’s graduation rate continues to tick upward. According to preliminary data presented by Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson, the percentage of high school seniors who earned enough credits to walk across the commencement stage in 2019 reached 90 percent, a 1 percent increase from the previous year and a 7 percent jump in five years. Canyons students at every tested grade level also are outpacing their peers across the state on year-end assessments in science, mathematics and English Language Arts, Sanderson told the Board of Education. In addition, high school juniors outscored their counterparts on the ACT, the most commonly used college-entrance exam. The District also has started discussing how to best provide supports to third-grade classes. Scores on year-end tests of third-grade students, which are still higher that the average statewide score, dipped slightly in core subjects.

Union Middle Update

The Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday voted to seek a waiver from the Utah State Board of Education requirement that students must be in school for at least 180 days. The days-in-school waiver would apply to students at Union Middle, who have been attending class on split sessions in ground-floor classrooms and meeting spaces since the days following an Oct. 24 electrical fire. To allow for a thorough cleaning of the building of smoke and soot, the school will continue to operate on its current schedule – morning and afternoon session of four 50-minute classes — until after the Thanksgiving Recess. However, that means that Union Middle will fall short of mandatory school days because a day can only be counted if students are at school for at least four hours. In all, even though students have been attending school, Canyons must seek a waiver for 24 days. While students also must be provided at least 990 hours of instruction, Principal Kelly Tauteoli has created a plan to make up the 30-hour shortfall of instructional hours, including shortening the passing time and lunch period, starting school 15 minutes earlier for all of the late-start Fridays in 2020, and cancelling some late-starts Fridays.   The Board thanked Tauteoli, her administrative team, the teachers, and the staff for their efforts. 

Turnaround School Update

Midvale Elementary is making steady progress one year into a restructuring to improve teaching and learning and increase social-emotional supports at the Title I school. Teacher turnover remains low and staff and faculty continue with an academic and behavioral supports plan which, according to testing data, has yielded measurable results, said Midvale Elementary Principal Chip Watts. The school last year realized a 6 percent gain in the number of students to reach proficiency in English language arts, according to newly released RISE data. In math, the number of students to reach proficiency grew by 13 percent, and in science by 8 percent, RISE data show. Benchmark testing this fall shows students have retained what they learned and continue to make progress toward the school’s achievement goals. Strategies to reinforce life skills have greatly improved the school climate, Watts said. Due to the mobility of the families in the area, about six students exit the school per week on average and eight new students enroll. Yet Watts said students this year are more easily relating with one another and learning important skills, such as how to persevere through tough problems. Tardies, which declined significantly last year, have stabilized and absences continue to drop. Serious office discipline referrals also are down. Watts is concerned about what cuts in federal Title I funding mean for the school as it works to sustain achievement, but says, he and his faculty are encouraged by the growth they are seeing and what it means for students and their families.

Utah College Application Week

Jordan High students Sophia Gaona and Rose Briones told the Board about the ways that UCAW aided them in the drive to obtain post-secondary education. They were among the 2,115 CSD students who completed at least one application during the sixth-annual districtwide UCAW, said Tori Gillett, School Counseling Program Specialist. The Canyons Education Foundation also covered $6,730 in application fees for low-income students. The Foundation, the fund-raising arm of CSD, pledged up to $10,000 to help students during the college-application initiative. 

Vision, Mission and Indicators

The Board of Education’s Vision, Mission, and Indicators Committee recommends adding three Social Emotional Learning indicators as part of the overall mission of the District. If eventually approved, the Board would ask for yearly SEL-related information on student attendance, Office Discipline Referrals and the responses to a School Climate Survey of fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students. The committee also reported on the review of strategies implemented by the administration to achieve the academic targets set by the Board in 2016.  The committee identified strategic approaches that provide for sustainable improvement and discussed possible next steps for this work of the Board. The committee also sought input on whether the Board would like to establish new targets once a report about the status of the 2020 achievement goals is presented. 

Curriculum Proposals

Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board on proposed new curricula and the adoption process the administration will follow. In addition, starting this year, in the month before the Winter Recess, parents will be able to review and provide input on curriculum that is being considered for adoption in CSD schools. Parents will be able to read an online overview of the proposed curricula, as well as view hard copies of the materials at each school or at the Canyons District Offices reception areas. Parents will be notified via the website, newsletters, social media, as well as other targeted communications. This year, the District is proposing to adopt for use in fall 2020 a new elementary science curriculum, health-instruction materials for secondary schools, and biology and earth science curriculum. 

Calendar Committee

A guideline by which Canyons District’s Calendar Committee operates has been slightly changed to accommodate a Board of Education decision to give the District more flexibility to determine a make-up day in the event of an emergency closure. The guideline now reads: “School emergency closure days will be made up first on Presidents’ Day, and the Board reserves the right to meet to determine a secondary date.” The Board also approved tentative 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year calendars.


The following were recognized for their achievements and efforts:
  • First responders from Sandy City and Canyons District whose efforts contained the electrical fire at Union Middle
  • Students at Alta, Brighton, Hillcrest, Corner Canyon and Jordan high schools who earned Academic All-State honors in fall sports sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association
  • Alta High Student Body Officers Gabe Crestani and Bronson Adams, winners of the UHSAA’s 5A statewide sportsmanship video contest. 
  • Corner Canyon High boys cross country team, 6A state champions
Board President Nancy Tingey also read a resolution in favor of the Nov. 20, 2019 Education Support Professionals Day. 

Policy Update

The Board modified the policy and framework governing allocations from the Teacher and Student Success Act. The new language allows for individual schools to amend a teacher and student success plan and receive Board approval for the amendment to the plan. 

Portrait of a Graduate

Dr. Roderick-Landward and Director of Responsive Services BJ Weller presented information about the Utah State Board of Education’s Portrait of a Graduate, which identifies the ideal characteristics of graduate after going through the K-12 public-school system in Utah. The Board will consider whether Canyons wants to create its own portrait. 

Pledge of Allegiance, Inspirational Thought

The American and state flags were presented by Cub Scouts who attend Brookwood Elementary.  The students also led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Principal Corrie Barrett told the Board about the social-emotional learning efforts at the school, including the addition of a full-time counselor. Parent involvement is strong at Brookwood, she said, as evidenced by the 5,832 volunteer hours counted at the school last year. Barrett also thanked the Board for the Front Office remodel, which includes enhanced safety measures, and the daylighting projects throughout the building.  

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the Oct. 15, 2019 minutes of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; October financial reports; a Memorandum of Understanding with Alpine District for busing services to the Suncrest subdivision; and a LAND Trust plan amendment for Midvalley Elementary School.   

LAND Trust

The Board received a final LAND Trust Report from School Performance Director Alice Peck and Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards. 

Patron Comment

Jen Morris thanked the Board of Education for approving a project to improve the parking lot at Draper Elementary. She also noted some of the traffic issues that will impact the community .  

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe thanked Union Middle Principal Kelly Tauteoli, Risk Management Coordinator Kevin Ray, School Performance Director Cindy Hanson, and the CSD communications staff for working so hard on the Union Middle mitigation and community-outreach effort. He noted the importance of Nov. 20 ESP Day and reported on attending Ridgecrest Elementary’s Veterans Day celebration.  He also attended Brighton High’s musical, “Catch Me If You Can,” and a civil-rights review at Hillcrest High. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Insurance Department for spearheading this year's health insurance Open Enrollment period. Wilcox also thanked the Union Middle staff, especially the custodial crew, for their hard work. He also expressed appreciation for Canyons' Education Support Professionals association leaders, who were in attendance at Board meeting.

Board Meeting Reports

Ms. Clareen Arnold reported on attending a conference at which she learned social-emotional learning strategies and relationship-building activities. She thanked the high schools who invited the Board members to musicals, the ESP employees who work hard every day to keep schools running, and her fellow Board members for engaging in productive discussions about vital topics.

Mr. Steve Wrigley mentioned attending Sandy Chamber of Commerce’s Titan Awards, reported on tours of construction projects at Brighton, Alta and Hillcrest high schools, and participating in a school safety conference.

Ms. Amber Shill thanked ESP employees and noted that the ESP union leadership attended the meeting.  She reported on the Town Hall held with President Tingey, the Student Advisory Council meeting at Brighton High, and Butler Middle’s Reality Town, as well as Hillcrest’s UCAW event. She also congratulated the Brighton High football team, headed by a new coach, on a successful season.

Ms. Amanda Oaks said the support staff makes such a difference in the lives of students and the culture of schools. She reported on attending the Innovation Grant-giving day of the Canyons Education Foundation and the pre-competition field show exhibition of the Alta High Marching Band. She also thanked the District for working on the parking lot at Draper Elementary. 

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Sandy, for attending the Board meeting and supporting Canyons programs. He reported on the Foundation's Innovation Grant selection process, a donation project of the Assistance League at Midvale Elementary, the Midvale Turn-around Meeting, and Midvale’s Math Night. He thanked all those who responded to the Union Middle fire, as well as the community’s veterans for their sacrifices. 

President Tingey attended the Quail Hollow Elementary Veterans Day celebration. She wondered if the honored guests looked at the school children at the school and thought, “This is what I did it for.” 
A rock star fourth-grade teacher in Canyons District will be in the spotlight Monday on the big-hit talk show of the country’s first-ever “American Idol.” 

Willow Springs Elementary teacher Marci Cornaby says she plans to dash home from work to watch the Veterans Day edition of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” on which she’s set to make her national television debut. On the program, after Clarkson belts out “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum as part of her trademark “Kellyoke,” the Grammy winner will talk to Cornaby about the healthy-lifestyle journey she started when her military husband was deployed.

“She is a doll,” Cornaby says about “The Voice” coach who has sold more than 25 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide. “She is just great — and really friendly.”

The producers of Clarkson’s popular show, which airs on KSL-TV at 3 p.m., sent a private message to Cornaby on social media after a Utah news station aired a story on the educator’s 83-pound weight loss that she unveiled to her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Thomas Cornaby, when he returned from a 10-month deployment to Poland and Germany. 

“It was pretty surreal,” Cornaby recalls. “I got a message from one of the (show’s producers) that said they had heard about my story on Twitter and asked me to get back to them. My first thought was, ‘Yeah, right.’  But then I thought, ‘What if this is really ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show?’” 

Later that day, the Cornabys were speaking via Skype to Clarkson’s people, who then arranged for them to fly to California to be a part of the pre-recorded Nov. 11 show.  Also appearing on Monday’s show will be country star and actor Tim McGraw. 

But the real dramatic entrance is when Cornaby shows off the makeover she received at the skillful hands of Clarkson’s glam squad. When she appears, she’s resplendent in an aubergine dress and a sleek hairdo. She and her husband then talk to Clarkson on the set’s plush couch. 

“She thanked Tom for his service,” she says.  “And she talked about the weight loss. She said, ‘It isn’t easy — I know.’”

So how did she lose the weight? For the most part, Cornaby, now in her eighth year of teaching, changed the way she ate. Chicken, fish and lean hamburger, paired with healthy servings of vegetables, are now staples for meals. She also started working with a health coach, learning and adopting healthy habits, and joining a community that is focused on personal wellness.  

The health company Optavia helped Cornaby on her journey. The company says the average weight loss on the Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan is 12 pounds, and clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks.

“As I started losing the weight, I started feeling better and was able to exercise,” she said. When she arrived home after a long day teaching her fourth-graders, Cornaby says, she could take their German shepherd for a walk. 

After the segment, the couple was guided to the Green Room, where they found a hand-written note from Clarkson, thanking them for appearing on her show.  That memento, plus the photos of the Cornabys on the set with Clarkson, will be cherished by their family, she said.

Clarkson’s singing was as good live as on the radio, says Cornaby, who plans to show the segment to her class later this week. “It is almost better in person,” she says.  “It’s not a big stage so it’s very personal.”

Through this experience — the whirlwind trip, the connection she made with the stylists, the kindness shown by Clarkson — Cornaby has become a big Kelly fan. Before, she knew her as the girl who was plucked from obscurity to make it big on a talent show.

“Now,” she says, “I think I will follow her until I die.”
Let freedom ring on Monday, Nov. 11, when the country will pause to honor the men and women who have fought to uphold and preserve America’s freedoms, traditions, and ideals.

Canyons District schools proudly join in this celebration of the community’s veterans.

On Friday, Nov. 8, Draper Park Middle and Eastmont middle schools hosted early morning events for active or veteran members of the U.S. Armed Forces. A photo album of Draper Park’s breakfast and patriotic program can be found on the District’s Facebook page

In addition, Butler Middle will continue its tradition of curating and displaying a Veterans Wall.  Several schools, including Alta High, on Monday will host assemblies featuring patriot songs and performances, and Alta View Elementary has invited Utah VFW’s Sr. Vice Commander Darryl J. Root to conduct a flag ceremony the morning of Veterans Day. 

Also, following a tradition in Canyons District, employees who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces will receive a letter of appreciation from the Canyons Board of Education and Administration. 

“You are a valued part of the Canyons District family, and we applaud you, as a current or former service member for your countless contributions at home and abroad.  We recognize that  your example of dedication and service enriches the educational experience in our schools. It is comforting to know that Canyons students are surrounded by patriotic women and men who have given so much of themselves in defense of our freedoms and rights, including a child’s right to an education,” reads the letter from the members of the Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

“From your example, students are learning the value of service to country and community. The lessons taught in our classrooms about America’s steadfast fight for liberty come to life in our students’ minds because of the valiant contributions of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard throughout the decades.”

Some 50 current CSD teachers, administrators and Education Support Professionals are current or former members of the military. A little more than 2 percent, or 110,000, of the country’s K-12 teachers are veterans, according to a recent analysis of Census Bureau data by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Everett Perry, an administrator in the Human Resources Department who served in the U.S. Navy and Marines, says he enlisted to “gain some discipline so I could get through my higher education.  I came out of the reserves with a bachelor’s degree in Health Education, advanced medical training, and strongly improved leadership skills.”

Service in the Army National Guard aided Hillcrest teacher Clief Castelton’s pursuit of higher education. “The knowledge I gained helped me later in completing my master’s degree,” Castleton says.  He added that, when appropriate, he ties in his service and what he learned during his time in the service to discussion sin the classroom. “I have used the military exams and skills to give examples of where math can be applied,” he said.

Brighton High physics teacher Janice Spencer-Wise, who served in Operation Deseret Storm as part of the U.S. Air Force Reserves, says her service gave her “respect of multiple perspectives, investment into this country, and that is continued by my investment into the future as a teacher.” 

The military is a viable career choice — not just a fall-back plan if post-secondary plans don’t pan out, says Brighton teacher Albert Spencer-Wise.  “The education benefits and the real-world skills developed are unique and cannot be found anywhere else,” he says.  “The brotherhood I have with veterans across the country is amazing and I know that no matter what, they will have my back if ever I have the need.”

South Park Academy Principal Todd Bird appreciates the Veterans Day celebrations in the schools, as well as the history lessons about the bravery of our troops.  Bird’s service in the U.S. Army National Guard helped finance his education to become an educator.

“I think it’s important for us to recognize those who fought to protect our freedom and help others around the world obtain and protect their freedoms,” he said. “I also think it’s important to recognize all those who willingly signed on the dotted line, that they would also give their lives to do the same. I will always be proud of my military brothers, and sisters for their willingness to serve.”

The freedoms and rights of the American people are precious, says Janice Spencer-Wise. The country, she says, “is not perfect but it cannot get better if we do not value and use the freedoms we have for the greater good.”

“It is important for us to remember that there are those who have given of themselves to protect those freedoms,” she said.  “Our democracy and ideals mean that if ‘we the people’ band together we can make changes. That is why we must celebrate Veterans Day,  we can't forget.”
Professional soccer players with Real Salt Lake have a message for Canyons District students: Show up for school and work hard, because no matter your personal goals, education is your ticket to the game of life.

RSL, which is headquartered in CSD’s boundaries, is offering a special incentive this year in support of Canyons District’s campaign to encourage students to “Be Great, Miss Less Than Eight” school days. Every student who meets the “miss less than eight” challenge will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a VIP Experience at RSL, which includes four tickets to a regular season game, a pregame dinner, pregame sideline access and player signatures. 

Two students from every school also will receive prizes for their efforts. The winners will be announced toward the end of the 2019-2020 school year in mid-May.

As Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Andrew Putna knows, when it comes to scoring big in the classroom, or the soccer field, every day of instruction or practice counts. Putna made his major league soccer debut in 2018 in covering for injured RLS goalie Nick Rimando, and finished the 2019 season with two shutouts in six appearances.

But he got his start at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) where he served as team captain his junior and senior year and broke several UIC records. “School put me on the pathway to be a professional soccer player,” says Putna in a video to announce the attendance incentive. “It gave me the direction to be drafted by Real Salt Lake. Without it I wouldn’t be here.”

If education opens doors, it also gives you something to fall back on, says former Utah Royals FC player Alexandra Kimball, a native of Salt Lake, who was drafted from the University of North Carolina and sidelined last year due to an injury. “Before you’re an athlete, you’re a student-athlete, so making sure you go to class and you’re there on time and you go every day is definitely important,” she says.

Consistency is the key, she adds. “Work hard. Don’t stop. It will all be worth it in the end.”

Indeed, just a few absences, even excused absences, can contribute to students falling behind in reading, writing and math, research shows — and traditionally, November is the month when CSD schools begin to see absences rise.

Some absences are unavoidable and tied to the flu season or extended family travel plans over the holiday breaks. But skipping just one day every other week can easily put a student over the “miss less than eight” threshold. Four out of five students who miss two days per month of kindergarten and first grade, for example, are unable to read on-level by the third grade. By the sixth-grade, excessive absenteeism is a warning sign of a student not graduating from high school.

But it’s never too late to get back on track. CSD’s Responsive Services Department offers these helpful tips:
  • Your school staff is here to help!
  • Familiarize yourself with the attendance rules found on your school and District websites
  • Use CSD’s Family Access Skyward portal to monitor attendance and grades for your student
  • Make an appointment with your school administration or counselor for additional student support
  • Set goals with your student regarding daily attendance
It’s your education, so give it your best shot, says RSL defender Donny Tioa. “Let’s be great, miss less than eight.”
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