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From its founding days, the CSD community as a whole has invested in its schools with passion, creativity, and a mindset that anything is possible. The winners of the 2020 Apex Awards are among those who have gone above and beyond in our collective quest to rise above, strive to make a difference, and lift the children of Canyons as they reach for their dreams through education. Each year since 2010, the Board of Education and Administration have recognized stellar employees, volunteers, and business partners with Apex Awards, the highest awards presented by the District. The Canyons Board of Education and Superintendent, who select the winners, express deep gratitude to this year’s honorees for their excellence, commitment and leadership. 

2020 Teacher of the Year

— Emma Moss —

CTE Teacher, Eastmont Middle School

Emma Moss may not have the ability to fly through the air or melt a wall with her eyes, but considering the influence she has on her students as a teacher, she may as well be a superhero. Moss has the power to help her students see themselves as she sees them: brilliant, resilient, and full of promise. She is focused, motivated, organized, and above all — she loves the kids in her classes. The Eastmont Middle teacher is known for her ability to draw students to attend her Career and Technical Education classes, where there are few discipline issues or challenges to her classroom management. Even the toughest kids respond to Moss, who is now in her fourth year of teaching. As Canyons’ 2020 Teacher of the Year, Moss represented Canyons in a pool of teachers from throughout the state to be considered as the Utah Teacher of the Year. After much anticipation, Moss was selected in October as a runner-up for the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year award. For her accomplishments as a teacher and invaluable influence on her students, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are proud to recognize Emma Moss as the 2020 Apex Award winner for Teacher of the Year.

2020 District Administrator of the Year

— Dr. Robert M. Dowdle —

Assistant Superintendent

You might be inclined to describe Dr. Robert M. Dowdle as an operations guy. After all, since Canyons District’s earliest days he has, in one capacity or another, been responsible for keeping 6,000 employees working in lockstep to support the growth and achievement of 34,000 students. But Dowdle is more like a stealth leader of leaders, quietly planting in others the seeds of progress and change. Perhaps this instinct to nurture greatness comes from being an educator of 31 years. Whether teaching high school history lessons or serving as Assistant Superintendent, Dowdle’s approach has been to build trust with people and give them the freedom to do their best work. It’s an understated leadership style, one that has served him and Canyons District well, but that can make his accomplishments easy to overlook — accomplishments such as soaring year-end test scores and a 7 percentage increase in CSD’s high school graduation rates. With every inherited responsibility has come more work, but Dowdle will say his colleagues make his job easy. With every leadership and organizational change have come new goals and initiatives, but Dowdle will say he’s merely removed obstacles to help them happen. With the pandemic have come unforeseen challenges, but Dowdle will credit his team for finding solutions, though he’s missed nary a day of work since the onset of the health crisis. For all he has done to build Canyons and keep it united and strong, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are proud to present Dr. Robert M. Dowdle with the 2020 Apex Award for District Administrator of the Year.

2020 Education Support
Professional of the Year

— Kevin Kelson —

Custodial and Grounds Coordinator

Fresh out of high school and looking for a decent-paying job, Kevin Kelson applied to mow lawns for the nearby school district. Work on the grounds crew that summer was an auspicious start for Kelson, who has become the poster child for climbing the ladder of success in the Canyons Facilities Department. Since his days toiling in the summer swelter, Kelson has advanced more than a few rungs to become the Custodial and Grounds Coordinator, responsible for the work done by hundreds of employees who mow, edge, and trim 350 acres on a weekly basis, plus clean and sanitize more than 6 million square feet in 49 buildings every day. Kelson draws from his boots-on the-ground experience as a former head custodian, including at the new Corner Canyon High, to lead his team through operational challenges, particularly in a year when it is more important than ever to have sanitary schools. Under Kelson’s leadership, Canyons’ custodians have been the unsung heroes of CSD’s COVID-19 health and safety plans, ensuring that every hallway, classroom, cafeteria, gymnasium, and media center gleams spotless when students arrive in the morning. Even on the toughest days, when it seems like there is more work to do than hands available, colleagues say Kelson is easygoing yet attentive, and quick with a smile but serious about providing high-quality work to school communities. With heartfelt appreciation, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration present the 2020 Apex Award for Education Support Professional of the Year to Kevin Kelson.

2020 Student Support Services
Professional of the Year

— Education Technology Team —

Instructional Supports Department

When the pandemic shut down schools statewide, Canyons District teachers rose valiantly to the occasion. However, for many, pivoting overnight from familiar, in-person teaching methods to the world of cyber-education felt like jumping into the matrix for the first time. Fortunately, they had a capable corps of educators to free their minds of all doubt and disbelief. Few districts were as prepared for the learning challenges posed by the pandemic as Canyons, thanks to an early investment in technology and a team of Specialists who know technology’s limits and potential. It’s not enough to have the latest gadgets and tools. Doing distance education well takes training, a responsibility that fell squarely in the laps of CSD’s Education Technology Team. It was this group of educators who in the spring created tutorials for students and parents on using Canyons’ online learning system Canvas. It was the “Ed Techs” who fast-tracked a districtwide Technology Summit for all teachers. It was the Ed Techs who this fall remained at the ready with tips for building trust and rapport with reluctant online learners. It is the Ed Techs — Camille Cole, Justin Andersen, Katie Blunt, Scott Christensen, Scott Lambert, Michelle Shimmin, Jonathan Stewart, and Jenna Townsend — who continue to work tirelessly to build digital teaching standards in support of the best possible outcomes for all students. For all these reasons, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are proud to present CSD’s Education Technology Specialists with the 2020 Apex Award fo r Education Support Services Professionals of the Year.

2020 Volunteer of the Year

— Stacey Kratz —

Midvale-area Schools

The school-to-home connection in Canyons District would be unbreakable if all parents were as dedicated as Stacey Kratz. Since the eldest of her four children started school some 18 years ago, Kratz has committed countless hours of work on behalf of teachers, students, and administrators in Midvale-area schools. Wherever there’s a need, Kratz doesn’t hesitate to step in, roll up her sleeves, and get to work. No task is too big or too small for Kratz’s time and attention. Yes, she’s assumed head-of-the-table positions as a School Community Council Chair and on PTA Boards — but she’s also been a behind-the-scenes mainstay at annual Book Fairs, the costume sewing circle for Hillcrest High’s stage productions, and pot luck dinners the night of Parent-Teacher Conferences. She’s watched over numerous gregarious teens on field trips, tutored struggling kids, and served as a full-throated advocate for the diverse parents and children in her community who need just a little help to do big things. To Kratz, schools are where students learn the magic of words, the rhythm of numbers, and the wonder of science. It’s where children should feel safe, loved, supported, and welcomed. And by serving as a substitute parent, even for just a few moments, she helps realize the hope of making a school feel so much like home. It’s for these reasons, and so many more, that the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are honored to present the 2020 Apex Award for Volunteer of the Year to Stacey Kratz.

2020 Community Partner of the Year

— Utah Food Bank —

Hunger-relief organizations are built for serving people in times of want and they are being tested like never before. As the novel coronavirus has spread, so has hunger along with food hoarding and volunteer shortages, straining the ability of groups like Utah Food Bank to ensure everyone is cared for. Yet they’ve still managed to find a way, drawing on all available resources and pivoting to mobile distribution systems to meet demand for the shipment of 6 million pounds of food per month, up from a monthly average of 2 million pounds, to pantries, shelters — and schools — throughout the state. Schools know the learning and health challenges that accompany hunger and have come to rely on Utah Food Bank as a trusted educational partner. The non-profit supports Canyons District families by keeping in-school pantries stocked, operating mobile pantries that deliver straight to school playgrounds, and through its Kids Cafe program which brings after-school meals to elementary schools. One in five Utah children face food insecurity, and behind every hungry child is a worried parent, grandparent or other caregiver who also could use a helping hand. Utah Food Bank President and CEO Ginette Bott and her staff, corporate sponsors, and volunteers make it possible to keep families learning and growing — even in a pandemic. They make it possible for teachers to do their job. For these reasons, and many more, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to present Utah Food Bank with the 2020 Apex Award for Community Partner of the Year.

2020 School Administrator of the Year

— Kelly Tauteoli —

Principal, Union Middle School

Kelly Tauteoli is the calm in the eye of the storm. When a fire ripped through a classroom at Union Middle School in the early hours of a cold October morning, Tauteoli was among the first on the scene to evaluate the damage, plan the response, and communicate with her community. For weeks, Tauteoli, who has been principal at Union for six years, steadily guided students, employees, and parents through the aftermath of the blaze, which included a massive clean-up and mitigation effort to rid the building of the soot and grime that coated nearly every square inch of the school. Thanks to Tauteoli’s organizational and leadership skills, the return of students on a split schedule was smooth and earned positive feedback from the school community. Moreover, Tauteoli’s down-to-earth demeanor and inclination toward team-building has strengthened Union Middle, which last year experienced academic growth and a spirit of unity, even while students turned to technology to complete their classes remotely during the COVID-19 “soft closure” of Utah schools. With Tauteoli’s support, Union students also regularly win statewide awards in foreign-language and history-knowledge competitions, and Union performing arts productions attract sold-out crowds. For all of these reasons, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are proud to present Kelly Tauteoli with the 2020 Apex Award for School Administrator of the Year.

2020 District Administrator of the Year

— Susan Edwards —

Public Engagement Coordinator

When Canyons was created by a mandate of the people 12 years ago, there was a clear directive given from voters and city leaders that this new school district should be innovative, responsive, and proactive in the way that it reached out to the community. When Canyons’ Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards entered the District not long after its first superintendent was hired, that mandate became her personal mission. Whether the call comes at midnight on a Saturday or 6 a.m. on a Sunday — or both — Edwards is known to put all other matters aside and respond. Although her job is unique, Susan’s contribution to Canyons District can best be described as making sure that no matter what Canyons does, every department is thinking about the whole, the teachers, students, taxpayers and parents, and how each decision builds on that mandate issued more than a decade ago. Through Edwards’ work with local legislators, city leaders, parents and volunteers, Canyons has seen the creation of valuable relationships, advocated for school funding at the Legislature, and remained laser-focused on the success of Canyons’ students. Though her job is demanding, Edwards always finds a way to say “yes,” and backs it up with the energy and commitment that makes everything seem possible. “In Susan Edwards’ mind, there is no insurmountable problem,” said Charlie Evans, Canyons’ Director of External Relations. “I have never worked with anybody who is willing to work harder and longer hours and do whatever it takes to get the job done like Susan, and that is not an exaggeration.” For her dedication to Canyons’ mission and its students, Canyons’ Board of Education and Administration have chosen Susan Edwards to receive the 2020 Apex Award for District Administrator of the Year.

2020 Student Support Services
Professional of the Year

— Sally Goodger —

School Nurse Lead

With all the strength and sweetness of a steel magnolia, Canyons District school nurse specialist Sally Goodger has stayed apace of the rapid-fire and ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 health crisis. Since the “soft closure” of Utah schools in March to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, Goodger served as one of the key players in CSD’s effort to open schools in the midst of a pandemic and has worked tireless hours to brainstorm the most-effective and safest ways to return to school. She was given the high-pressure, around-the-clock tasks of communicating with local health authorities, devising and putting into place contact-tracing protocols, and providing health and wellness guidance to principals, teachers, and support staff. Goodger’s southern charm also is a soothing balm to the worried folks who reach out to CSD with health-related questions, especially about COVID-19-related issues. She’s known to express empathy with patrons, even regaling them with stories about her own family. Then, she listens with compassion and understanding. Colleagues say Goodger’s leadership skills shine in a crisis, and she’s a fierce advocate for her fellow school nurses and the services they provide, such as the annual flu-shot clinics, to the Canyons community. While greatly admired for her nursing skills, Goodger is respected just as much for her lasting dedication to Canyons students, parents and employees. For these reasons, and many more, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to present the 2020 Apex Award for Student Support Services Professional of the Year to Sally Goodger.

2020 Volunteer of the Year

— Araceli Rivera —

East Midvale Elementary

As long as Araceli Rivera has anything to say about it, no student will go unrecognized for good behavior. No snack will go undelivered. No carefully crafted piece of artwork will be missing from the classroom galleries at East Midvale Elementary. She is one of those volunteers who believes every student deserves to feel safe and welcome at school. She knows every task she shoulders — every item she ticks off a teacher’s to-do list — is one less distraction from the vital work of helping students succeed academically and reach for their dreams. The mother of two East Midvale Eagles, Rivera’s introduction to the school was through its Family Learning Center where she took language lessons. As her English improved, so did her comfort and interest in supporting classroom activities and after-school events. She logged more volunteer hours during the 2019-2020 school year than any parent and says she wants to give back to those who have given so much to her and her family. But it’s the school that owes her a debt of gratitude. Through her service, she sets an example for students to follow. Through her leadership, she helps orient other parents to the community and clear a path to their also becoming involved. It’s with heartfelt appreciation that the Canyons Board of Education and Administration present Araceli Rivera with the 2020 Apex Award for Volunteer of the Year.

2020 Elected Official of the Year

— Rep. Steve Eliason —

Utah House of Representatives

Rep. Steve Eliason well remembers the heart-breaking conversation that shaped the direction of his political career. Shortly after he was elected in 2011, Eliason attended a Youth Protection Seminar at Union Middle to discuss student suicide. It was there he spoke to a tearful father who pleaded with Eliason to do something to make a difference and help students struggling with mental illness. So Eliason did. In his time at the Legislature, Eliason has overseen legislation that increased funding for students through the weighted pupil unit, he shepherded the creation of the SafeUT app, established Youth Protection Seminars for schools throughout the state, and added funding to support additional counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools. As a result, the suicide rate in Utah has declined, while nationally, rates are still rising. Despite his essential role in supporting education throughout the state, Eliason quietly stays behind the scenes, orchestrating important legislation without fanfare. “In my mind, Steve Eliason is the most unsung hero in public education in the state of Utah,” said Canyons’ Director of External Relations Charlie Evans. “Everyone who cares about education owes him a deep debt of gratitude.” That debt of gratitude is one reason why Eliason has become the first person in the history of Canyons to receive two Apex Awards for Elected Official of the Year. Eliason first received the award in 2016. Now, as a token of gratitude and acknowledgement of all that Eliason has done to promote education in Utah, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration have selected Rep. Steve Eliason to receive the 2020 Apex Award for Elected Official of the Year.

2020 Legacy Award

— Dr. Jim Briscoe —

Former Superintendent of the Canyons District

From the moment he arrived in Canyons District in 2014 , former Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe was ready to build. He began by laying the groundwork in the days before his official start date, meeting with teachers, parents, and leaders in the community. He had a vision of creating a school district where students and employees thrived and community relationships were strengthened. In his words, Briscoe sought to build an environment where “every single person knows they are valued.” During Briscoe’s six-year tenure, Canyons’ students regularly outperformed their Utah peers on year-end tests, and CSD’s graduation rate rose to an all-time high. He also oversaw the completion of the Alta View and Butler elementary and Midvale Middle construction projects, and the major renovation of Indian Hills Middle. Other facilities were improved throughout the District with the successful passage of a $283 million bond in 2017, and innovative programs were created to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of CSD students. In 2015, Canyons launched Diamond Ridge High, an alternative school for 16- to 18-year-old students who do better in a non-traditional setting. In 2016, Hillcrest High started a summer academy to help freshmen excel in their first make-or-break year and beyond. That same year, a Kindergarten Supplemental Hours of Instruction program was created to provide extra academic options to the community, and in 2017, the first cohort of students from Alta High participated in a partnership program with the University of Utah called Step2theU, through which students can earn two complete semesters of college credit by the time they graduate high school. Through it all, each year, Briscoe advocated for employee compensation increases, and worked with the Board of Education to increase teacher salaries to among the highest in Utah. His influence will be remembered and respected f or years to come. For these reasons and more, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to present its highest award, the 2020 Legacy Award, to Dr. Jim Briscoe.