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Board Announces Dr. James Briscoe as Canyons Superintendent

The Canyons Board of Education announced that Dr. James Briscoe, who has 12 years of experience as a superintendent of schools, most recently in DeKalb, Ill., has been selected to serve as Canyons School District’s new Superintendent.

The seven-member Board voted unanimously in an April 29, 2014 meeting to approve the appointment of Dr. Briscoe, who for the past six years has served as Superintendent of Schools of the DeKalb Community Unit School District No. 428, located about 50 miles west of Chicago. The appointment, effective July 1, 2014, follows an exhaustive national search for the new superintendent, which began last fall and included three months of community input meetings, an extensive application and interview process, and site visits.

“The Board has been committed to selecting the best possible leader, and we’re confident that Dr. Briscoe’s skills, talents and experience meet the expectations of the community and are a perfect fit for Canyons School District,” Board President Sherril H. Taylor said. “We have been fortunate in our new district’s history to have had strong leaders who have focused on student achievement and college- and career-readiness for all students. Dr. Briscoe will continue to forward the Board’s college- and career-ready academic plan, and work shoulder-to-shoulder with employees and community members to achieve optimal educational outcomes for students.”

Dr. Briscoe, who chose early retirement due to pension reform in Illinois, thanked the Board for the opportunity to serve the students and families of Canyons School District.  

“The Board, Administration, teachers and the entire staff should be proud of the outstanding job they have done to implement innovative programs and set high expectations for teaching and student learning,” Dr. Briscoe said. “I am looking forward to learning more about the community, Canyons School District and our teacher and student successes.  I also plan to provide continued support to the Administration and teachers in their work to implement the initiatives and innovative programs that have helped Canyons School District develop an outstanding reputation as a leader in public education in the state of Utah.”

Dr. Briscoe will transition to the Canyons superintendency this summer. The District’s first-ever superintendent, Dr. David S. Doty, resigned in spring 2013 to lead a national education reform organization. Dr. Ginger Rhode has served as Interim Superintendent since July 1, 2013 and recently announced her intention to retire July 1, 2014. 

Similar to Canyons District, the 6,200-student DeKalb School District is focused on increasing student achievement and college- and career-readiness. Under Dr. Briscoe’s leadership, the DeKalb district has focused on enhancing curriculum in reading, writing and math, improving education technology, and closing achievement gaps. DeKalb district utilizes data-driven decision-making, research-based curriculum, and the Response to Intervention framework. The DeKalb district partners with Northern Illinois University to raise student achievement and improve the preparation of future educators. It also emphasizes parent and community engagement in schools, and lauds student achievements in an array of academic, artistic, and athletic disciplines. In 2013, the district’s flagship high school, DeKalb High, was ranked in the top 10 percent of U.S. High Schools by U.S. News & World Report.

“Jim has a very unique ability to see in the heart of issues before him,” said Tracy Williams, President of the DeKalb CUSD428 School Board, citing Dr. Briscoe’s work in creating a three-tiered learning system to help close student achievement gaps. “You are very fortunate to be receiving a gentleman who is one of the most compassionate leaders you will ever meet. The students absolutely love Dr. Briscoe. He is truly all about the students.”

Prior to his DeKalb superintendency, Dr. Briscoe served six years as superintendent of a 1,800-student high school district in Oak Lawn, Ill. A former sixth-grade social studies and math teacher, Dr. Briscoe worked six years as a high school principal in the high-performing Elmbrook school system in Brookfield, Wis. He served three years as a high school principal in Round Lake, Ill., and worked as an assistant high school principal for five years and junior high dean of students for three years in the community of McHenry, Ill.

The Canyons search for the new superintendent began in September 2013 and was facilitated by Superintendent Search Consultants Rickie McCandless and Claudia Seeley. The search included three months of public input meetings in which School Community Councils, students, employees, parents, and community leaders voiced the characteristics and qualifications they most desired in the new superintendent. The input was used to shape the job posting for the new superintendent.

In March, the Board announced it had narrowed its field of candidates to three finalists following an exhaustive application-review and interview process. Finalists included Dr. Briscoe; Craig Hammer, Executive Director of Secondary Schools in Washington County School District in St. George; and Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Canyons Assistant Superintendent and Chief Performance Officer, Canyons School District.  Briscoe was selected following additional interviews and site visits to the workplaces of the finalists.

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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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