As one of the first employees of Canyons School District, Susan Edwards has had a front-row seat for many of the District’s defining moments.
Even before the vote on Nov. 6, 2007, Edwards was deeply involved in community discussions that led to the creation of the first school district in Utah in 100 years. From building a vital bridge of connections throughout the community to choosing the District’s first computers, Edwards has played a key role in Canyons’ history and, after a decade of devoting day and night to its success Canyons has played a key role in hers.
“It feels like Canyons’ history is part of my family’s history,” Edwards said recently as she reflected on the District’s upcoming anniversary. “My family sees what you can accomplish, they see the relationships and the strength it takes just to battle through. They’ve learned a lot about community service, and how important education is to me.”
Since community was essential to Canyons’ creation, community is at the heart of Canyons’ 10-year anniversary celebration on July 1. Nearly 700 people attended a free community party from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sandy Amphitheater splash pad, 1245 E. 9400 South. At the event, the District served more than 600 hot dogs, bags of chips, and bottles of water. Attendees also sang “Happy Birthday” and cheered as the Board of Education cut birthday cakes decorated with the District’s logo.
Partygoers included students and their parents, current and former employees and dignitaries, including leaders of Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy cities. Families stayed cool with water from the splash pad while picnicking on the lush grass of the park. A live DJ turned up the volume to popular tunes.
Canyons would not exist without the support of the community and family members throughout the District. For Edwards, the support of her family was essential in undertaking her role to help Canyons thrive. As one of the first CSD employees, Edwards wore many hats to help Canyons get off of the ground. She helped forge relationships between city leaders and district leaders, she acted as a business manager, IT director and human resources aide until those positions were filled by the experts in their fields.
When Canyons’ first computers were to be delivered to the District, it was Edwards who waited at the building every day over Christmas break, only to discover they were marooned at the airport, because they believed all school districts would be closed, unaware Canyons was currently in an office building. Whatever the task, Edwards, now the District’s Public Engagement Coordinator, is ready to step in and help make it happen.
“In many regards, Susan is the go-to person in Canyons District,” said Canyons School District President Nancy Tingey. “Her dedication to the District is unparalleled. Through her connectedness to the community, she is both an ambassador for the District, as well as a valuable link to bring community matters to the attention of the District.”
Over the course of a decade, for every meeting and service opportunity, Edwards was there, but she wasn’t alone. Her four children were all in school at the time, and as they supported their mother, attending school events and more, they experienced their own firsts in Canyons history. Her son was a graduate in Canyons’ first commencement ceremony in 2010, he also was a flag bearer at Canyons’ first opening ceremony. A daughter was part of the first class of seniors to graduate from Corner Canyon, Canyons’ first brand-new high school. Another daughter was part of the first class to graduate after spending all four years at Corner Canyon. They all watched as the first middle school was built in Draper, and learned about their mother’s grit as they saw her dedicate time and energy to the District even after they all entered college.
Before Canyons was created, Edwards was involved in her children’s school community as a member of the school community council and PTA president. After Canyons’ creation, Edwards continues to devote her time and energy to supporting the District and its students, even if her own kids have moved on.
“I still want Canyons to be the best it can be,” Edwards said. “We’ve got 34,000 other kids. Our staff, our teachers, our children, our communities, they all rely on Canyons doing a good job. It’s not really a job we get to fail at. If we do, we’re failing a classroom of kids, and their whole education is impacted. We don’t get to fail because we are producing the people who will run our world for the next many years.”
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