2022

APEX Awards Logo

From its founding days, the Canyons District community has invested in its schools with passion, creativity, and a mindset that anything is possible. The winners of the 2022 Apex Awards are among those who have gone above and beyond in CSD’s 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 winners received their lead crystal awards during a Tuesday, Oct. 11 ceremony at Midvale Middle.  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. 

2022
TEACHER
of
THE YEAR
Katie Tinoco

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of
THE YEAR
Nicole Svee-Magann

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of
THE YEAR
Leslie Jewkes

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of
THE YEAR
Julie Winfree

2022
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR
of
THE YEAR
Dr. McKay Robinson

2022
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR
of
THE YEAR
BJ Weller

2022
EDUCATION SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS
of
THE YEAR


Mark Ward


2022
COMMUNITY PARTNER
of
THE YEAR


Jordan Credit Union

2022
EDUCATION SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS
of
THE YEAR


Fano Tagovailoa

2022
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES PROFESSIONAL
of
THE YEAR

Title I Community School Facilitators

2022
VOLUNTEER
of
THE YEAR
Marci Cardon

2022
ELECTED OFFICIAL
of
THE YEAR

Rep. Susan Pulsipher


2022
LEGACY AWARD


Rick Conger

2022
TEACHER
of  THE YEAR
Katie Tinoco

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The COVID-19 pandemic, which required heroic measures from teachers across Canyons School District, had an enduring and unexpected impact on Draper Elementary teacher Katie Tinoco and her classroom. Because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, Tinoco’s Mandarin Chinese-English Dual Language Immersion teaching partner was stuck in China for the first six months of the 2021-2022 school year. This predicament placed extraordinary demands on Tinoco, who had to write additional lesson plans, mentor and guide many substitutes — some who spoke Chinese, 

others who didn’t — coordinate with her partner on the other side of the world, and pick up the teaching slack in order to educate 56 second-grade students in the DLI program. Tinoco, however, did not hesitate to accept double duties and went far beyond her job description to make sure her students continued to learn. Her principal also marveled that nary a parent made one complaint during the unusual circumstances. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts, and Tinoco enthusiastically answered that call for her young students. With a data-driven mindset, Tinoco carefully monitored each of her students’ progress toward end-of-year benchmark goals and, like she does every year, searched for ways to reach students who are struggling. Tears well in Tinoco’s eyes when she’s asked to ponder what it’s like to be part of her students’ educational experience. “To see the light come on for a kid, and to know that you played a part in that, is magical,” Tinoco said. “Not that you’re solely responsible for it, but getting to be a little piece of a kid’s life is meaningful in a way that I don’t think any other job gets to experience.” For these reasons, and many more, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are honored to present the 2022 Apex Award for Teacher of the Year to Draper Elementary’s Katie Tinoco.

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of  THE YEAR
Nicole Svee-Magann

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Students at Altara Elementary become giddy with excitement when Principal Nicole Svee Magann welcomes them into the school with a smile and a high-five. To even the most casual observer, this much is clear from the reception she receives from Kittyhawks and their parents: Magann is Altara’s resident rock star. Magann’s well-earned star power comes from serving for a decade at the school, which under her leadership has maintained a strong academic reputation, adeptly adapted to demographic changes within its boundary, and boasts some of the highest parent

-involvement levels in the District. Notable among the recent successes of the Altara is the launch of a Spanish-English Dual-Language Immersion Program while at the same time enacting COVID-19 wellness protocols. Observers said she handled both with professionalism and aplomb. Teachers, staff and parents alike marvel at her ability to know every student’s name and how they are progressing academically. Colleagues also remark on Magann’s special ability to connect with students who don’t fit the mold, need a little extra attention, or exhibit behaviors that others may find challenging. Her attention to relationship-building extends to her faculty and staff. “She connects and cares for them with the same intensity that she shows her students,” says one Altara staff member. Says another: “Her leadership at Altara is what makes our school function as well as it does. She is dedicated, kind, encouraging, trusting, innovative, and a phenomenal advocate. She is all of the great things you would want in a leader.” It is for all of these reasons — and more — that the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to honor Nicole Svee Magann with the 2022 Apex Award for School Administrator of the Year.

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of  THE YEAR
Leslie Jewkes

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When Peruvian Park Elementary opens up near the end of 2022, it might take a while for the smile to come off of Principal Leslie Jewkes’ face. In addition to helping her students navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jewkes had the added responsibility of overseeing the construction of the Panthers’ new home while also seeing to the needs of her students and staff in their temporary digs at the old Crescent Middle building. She’s excited to move into a school that will be filled with learning, light, and laughter. She eagerly anticipates walking into the new Peruvian Park,

constructed with collaboration and comfort in mind, and feeling the “sense of community” once again. “It’s going to be great to have that back.” Since becoming a teacher some four decades ago, Jewkes, whose smarts and savvy as an administrator were instrumental in Peruvian Park becoming a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, has enjoyed working with kids, seeing them grow and getting excited when the educational light bulbs illuminate in their bright, young minds. As an administrator, she’s come to appreciate the importance of hiring and working with good teachers, whose impact causes a wide-spread ripple effect. “I love teaching and being in schools,” Jewkes said. “Working with the kids, obviously, is the reason we’re in it.” That drove her through the challenges that society and the Peruvian Park community have faced in recent years. “I’ve been lucky to work with incredible teachers, families and students,” Jewkes added. For these reasons, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to present the 2022 Apex Award for School Administrator of the Year. She considers it quite an honor. “I feel like it’s a representation for our school and everything we’ve gone through the last couple of years. I feel like it’s more of a school award in addition to honoring me.”

2022
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
of  THE YEAR
Julie Winfree

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If helping to oversee the construction of a new school in a pandemic weren’t enough, Julie Winfree also was tasked with consolidating within that school two separate school communities with separate traditions and identities — all while mentoring a new principal to inherit her post at yet another school. In other words, she shouldered the responsibility of emotionally and logistically preparing students, employees, and parents in three school communities for big changes while also in the throes of a global health crisis with vast local implications. Actually, truth

 be told, she juggled the needs of four schools, if you count the new Glacier Hills Elementary, which is the first school in Utah to adopt the Yeti as a mascot. Though she reflects with fondness and pride on her seven years at Ridgecrest, Winfree will tell you she is a Yeti through and through. She’ll also tell you it has taken the hard work of countless school and District-level staff, faculty members, construction and architectural experts, community leaders, and parent volunteers to coax Glacier Hills into being. Even the students had a hand in picking their school colors and naming their beloved mascot Blizzard. But that’s how Winfree rolls. A meticulous leader who believes students deserve the best that educators have to give, she has the uncanny ability to inspire those around her to bring their best. As the school’s song makes clear, Glacier Hills is “where we climb together,” which is a good thing because, as Winfree sees it, there are still mountains to summit. It’s with heartfelt appreciation that the Canyons Board of Education and Administration present Julie Winfree with the 2022 Apex Award for School Administrator of the Year.

2022
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR
of  THE YEAR
Dr. McKay Robinson

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To work in education is to know the measurable difference that one person can make in a young person’s life. For Dr. Mckay Robinson, that one person was his third-grade teacher, Mr. Miner. Robinson’s parents were going through a divorce and Mr. Miner saw that he could use some care and support. “He stepped up and became a mentor and advocate, someone I truly considered a hero,” Robinson recalls. “It was at that time, as a third-grade student, I said, ‘I want to be just like Mr. Miner one day.’” Being an advocate for others, whether for a student, a parent, or colleague, is 

what Robinson loved best about his job as an elementary teacher and principal, and it describes how, nearly 24 years later, he approaches his work today as a School Performance Director. He believes his role isn’t to sit and make decisions from the central office, but to be in the schools working side-by-side with administrators to support their goals. An avid baseball fan, you’ll never catch him in anything but a Yankees hat, although figuratively speaking, his job requires donning a different hat each day, especially during the pandemic when Dr. Robinson consistently gave voice to what was best for students and reasonable to expect from schools. Approachable yet decisive. Humble yet wise. Responsive and responsible. Quick to laugh and find the silver lining. The calm in the storm. These are but a few of the words commonly ascribed to his leadership style. For exhibiting all these character traits and more, even on the toughest of days, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are honored to present the 2022 Apex Award for District Administrator to Dr. McKay Robinson.

2022
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR
of  THE YEAR
BJ Weller

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The irony of BJ Weller’s recent health challenges, which have called for a painstaking surgery to remove a brain tumor, is that he’s spent the majority of his waking days in the past several years tirelessly advocating for the physical and mental wellness for thousands of so many others. The COVID-19 pandemic posed incredible challenges for Weller and Canyons District’s Student Support Services Department team as they navigated the nearly impossible task of ensuring that all possible measures have been taken to protect and support the Canyons District community, be it 

with vaccination clinics or crisis counseling services. Weller is known to rise well before dawn to provide counseling supports to campuses in trauma while also working late into the evening responding to tip line cries for help from students struggling with big emotions. Weller also is a full-throated cheerleader of the Canyons school nurses and captained the District’s well-organized and much-used testing and vaccination clinics. Colleagues laud his sense of humor, kindness, and calm approach to complex situations, including building inroads with local and state health departments, medical experts, and mental-health organizations. “BJ’s leadership and efforts were a crucial component to keeping our schools open and operating over the course of the past two years,” said one administrator. “He worked endlessly to ensure that our students were safe, healthy and ready to learn. He truly is a warrior for our students and their well-being.” For all of these reasons, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration have chosen BJ Weller as the 2022 Apex Award winner for District Administrator of the Year.

2022
EDUCATION SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS
of  THE YEAR
Mark Ward

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Whether Mark Ward is working to keep Lone Peak Elementary safe and clean, assisting students, teachers and sweepers with various tasks, or simply being kind to those who come across his path, the Eagles’ Assistant Facility Manager always goes out of his way to get the job done, to help others, and to make the school a better place. “Our custodian at Lone Peak Elementary is amazing!” an admirer noted while nominating him for this award. “He always goes the extra mile to ensure things are just right.” Putting out proverbial fires and going to great lengths are nothing new 

 for Ward. The native New Yorker diligently worked for more than two decades as a firefighter in New York City, a career that included assisting in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack at Ground Zero, and then traveled 2,100 miles with his wife to be closer to their daughter after she landed a teaching job at Oak Hollow Elementary. Utah’s elite skiing was a bonus part of the cross-country relocation to the Canyons area. The Lone Peak community considers Ward to be the bonus. “Mark’s arrival at our school as our head custodian ushered in a refreshingly positive physical school climate of cleanliness, calm, and efficiency,” a co-worker remarked. Ward has enjoyed all aspects of his move to Utah — from working with students, teachers, administration and parents to exploring Utah’s outdoors. “I love it out here,” he said. He’s definitely loved out here, too. “I don’t know what we would do without him,” a Lone Peak teacher said. “He is the absolute best!” For being a hard-working go-getter who quickly made a positive impact, Lone Peak Elementary’s Mark Ward has been honored with a 2022 Apex Award for Education Support Professional of the Year.

2022
COMMUNITY PARTNER
of  THE YEAR
Jordan Credit Union

Jordan Credit Union-10

Jordan Credit Union’s first office was on the doorsteps of the original Jordan High School in the early 1950s, so it made sense for the Sandy-based financial institution to continue its partnership when Canyons School District opened in 2009. CEO Lindsey Merritt calls the credit union’s relationship with the District and the Canyons Education Foundation “a natural fit.” The credit union originated to help educators in this community, after all. That generosity and active partnering have continued over the years. Most recently, Jordan Credit Union contributed cash prizes to Canyons’ three Teachers 

 of the Year finalists and incentives for teachers who attended professional development courses. Jordan was the title sponsor of the Canyons Education Foundation’s my529 scholarships for seventh-graders who will be their families’ first generation of college students and also sponsors the Foundation’s fundraising galas, golf tournaments, fun runs, and donation drives. And the list of philanthropic efforts goes on. “We realize how important youth are to our communities. At some point, they all become young adults and eventually our leaders,” Merritt said. “We also understand how important it is to help our educators, our teachers, and our schools. We do what we can. It’s always fulfilling to be able to help others.” For all they do to provide opportunities and reward excellence in education, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are thrilled to present Jordan Credit Union with the 2022 Apex Award for Community Partner of the Year.

2022
EDUCATION SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS
of  THE YEAR
Fano Tagovailoa

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As Draper Elementary’s Assistant Facility Manager, Fano Tagovailoa maintains the grounds, cleans bathrooms, helps in the lunchroom, deals with unpleasant remnants produced by sick children, supervises sweepers, and, as a complimentary service, keeps everybody entertained. That’s especially the case when he plays the piano in the lunchroom and serenades students and faculty. The native Samoan who has remained in the Beehive State since playing football for the University of Utah in the 1990s wears a lot of hats for the Dragons. On special occasions, he even dons a fancy cowboy

hat — with a dapper suit jacket, no less. Not only does Tagovailoa love what he does for a living, he genuinely loves people and loves making others happy. “What I really love about my job is coming here every day and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces,” he said. “The relationship I’ve built with them is amazing. I love everybody that I work with here. I wake up in the morning and say, ‘Yes! Let’s go!’” Though he’s helped coach Alta High’s football team and his 10-year-old son plays in the Hawks’ Little League system, Tagovailoa, who has made a home out of his Draper school, has turned into a fan of the hometown team — the Corner Canyon Chargers. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from participating in fun rivalry banter or from wearing an Alta football shirt under his work clothes. “It’s all fun and games,” he said with his trademark smile. For being a positive source of energy and enthusiasm at Draper Elementary, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to present a 2022 Apex Award for Education Support Professional of the Year to Fano Tagovailoa.

2022
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES PROFESSIONAL
of  THE YEAR
Title I Community School Facilitators

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It is difficult to encapsulate all that Canyon District’s Title I Community School Facilitators give to the students and families their schools serve. But if you had to pick one word, it would be dignity. As essential to East Midvale Elementary families as the nourishing farm-fresh food that Shelly McCall has arranged to be donated to the campus is her contagious positive attitude. Thanks to Isa Connelly, no student at Sandy Elementary goes without a costume on Halloween or treats on Valentine’s Day. At Midvale Elementary, Heidi Sanger makes sure there are almost as many community volunteers 

 roaming the halls on any given day as there are staff and faculty. Early in the morning and well after school lets out for the day, Jenna Landward can be spotted at Copperview Elementary, hosting literacy nights, pop-up dental clinics and hair salons or handing out transportation vouchers. At Midvalley Elementary, Wendy Heath works tirelessly to tap the generosity of local businesses to donate school supplies and sponsor food and clothing drives. These problem-solvers do their best to shield their school communities from socio-economic factors that far too often serve as hurdles to stability and growth. They help orient new families and make every student feel cared for. They do what they do so that teachers can teach, parents can parent, and students can learn and grow. It’s not easy work. The rewards, however, come in the quiet moments of understanding and gratitude they share with a family or the spark of joy they see as a student’s imagination takes flight. With deep appreciation, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are proud to present CSD’s Title I Community School Facilitators with the 2022 Apex Award for Student Support Services Professionals of the Year.

2022
VOLUNTEER
of  THE YEAR
Marci Cardon

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In racing vernacular, Marci Cardon approaches her duty as a volunteer in Canyons schools as if it’s a marathon and not a sprint. For about a decade, Cardon has dedicated countless hours of service to the Cottonwood Heights-area schools where her children attend. This includes championing a health and wellness program that inspired students in every grade level to arrive at school early on Fridays to run a mile. By the end of the year, the participating Ridgecrest Tigers have pawed their way through 26 miles — the distance of a marathon. Current and former principals at the elementary

 school laud Marci’s creativity and kindness in the roles she plays at the school, saying she’s one of the best and most-dedicated volunteers they’ve ever encountered in their careers as educators. As a volunteer extraordinaire — a recent tally of volunteer hours worked at Ridgecrest reached a whopping 800 — Cardon has served as both the chair of the School Community Council and the president of Ridgecrest’s Parent-Teacher Association She also oversees the school’s Spelling Bee, emcees the fund-raising Fun Run, and often fills in as an emergency substitute when classes suddenly need to be covered. Additionally, Cardon was one of the driving forces behind such Ridgecrest community events as the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, which brings in hundreds of people to celebrate the culture surrounding the Mandarin Chinese-English Dual Language Immersion program housed at the school. For her part, Cardon says she’s found incredible joy in dedicating so much of herself at the school where her children are building their educational foundations. In turn, the school considers her a beloved part of the Ridgecrest family. For being a relentless positive force for good at Ridgecrest Elementary, the Board of Education and Administration are proud to present Marci Cardon the 2022 Apex Award for Volunteer of the Year.

2022
ELECTED OFFICIAL
of  THE YEAR
Rep. Susan Pulsipher

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At a time when society and politics seem more divided than ever, Rep. Susan Pulsipher stands out as someone who believes civility, consensus and collaboration are still possible. Her foray into politics started out of a desire to serve her community, and whether she was serving on a school board or the Utah Legislature, her approach was to build relationships. In her five years as a state policymaker, Pulsipher has remained true to her values — promoting the importance of family — while finding common ground with her colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Everyone wants 

the same thing for their children, Pulsipher says, and it’s this shared sense of purpose that she builds upon, whether she’s fighting for high-quality schools and childcare options for working families or bringing attention to inequities for women in the workplace. Strong families and communities make for strong schools, she believes. At the end of each General Session of the Utah Legislature, she asks herself, “Did I make a difference?” Her track-record speaks for itself: Five of the five bills she sponsored last year were signed into law. For being a steadfast supporter of public schools and capable community-builder when it was needed most, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration are honored to present the 2022 Apex Award for Elected Official to Rep. Susan Pulsipher.

2022
LEGACY AWARD

Rick Conger

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It’s not hyperbole to say that the result of Rick Conger’s work in the 13 years before his well-deserved retirement has literally changed the face of Canyons School District. As the first-ever Canyons Director of Facilities Services, Conger spearheaded the Board of Education’s ambitious school-improvement plan that called for the renovation or construction of nearly 20 schools in the first 15 years of the District’s operations. Even in the twilight of his career, and in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic that required his staff to work smarter and harder to maintain sanitary schools, 

Conger never rested, never wavered in his dedication, and never allowed his kind demeanor to dim. While also overseeing landscaping and custodial services for one of Utah’s largest districts, Conger, who retired in spring 2022, served as the main liaison between CSD and the contractors who endeavored on more than $500 million in new construction in Canyons District. That wasn’t all: Conger, who started his career mowing lawns and cleaning classrooms, also oversaw the thousands of small-capital and regular maintenance projects that add shine and sparkle to the facilities that safely house Canyons’ 34,000 students and 6,000 employees. With new or renovated buildings in all parts of current-day Canyons, it can be easy to forget the colossal amount of school improvements that needed to be done in the District’s fledgling years. Even when a 2009 architectural review revealed more than $600 million in needed repairs to Canyons buildings, Conger and his team faced the challenge with good humor and determination. It should be no surprise then, largely as a result of Conger’s leadership and dedication to excellence, that Canyons campuses have become the envy of all Utah school districts. For these reasons, and many more, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration proudly present the 2022 Legacy Award to Rick Conger. 

Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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