Getting Involved





Getting Involved

Hillcrest High Graduate Meets Her Maker Culture at MIT

Jayashabari Shankar is a student driven by curiosity and creativity, and she found at Hillcrest High the freedom to pursue both.

When she wanted to take four science classes, instead of three, her advisers said, “no problem.” When a section in her biology book stirred questions, her teachers encouraged her to find the answers. Nothing was outside of the realm of possibility, from extracurricular coding workshops and internships to on-campus leadership opportunities.

The rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Hillcrest and advanced science classes “just increased my love for science,” Shankar said. “I feel the faculty really cared and were supportive of all my endeavors at school and outside of school.”

Shankar, who is on track to receive an IB diploma and graduate with a 4.0 GPA, has earned $800,000 in scholarship offers and admission to five Ivy League schools: Yale, Columbia, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth. She was also accepted to Duke, Johns Hopkins and Rice University, but has settled on MIT as her school of choice.

“There’s just such a maker culture at MIT,” she said. “There is this one club where, even as a freshman, you can do any biology experiment that you want. They’ll get you the funding, they’ll get you the professors, access to labs, everything.”

Shankar traces her love of science back to her earliest days when, like so many toddlers, she was fascinated by dinosaurs. “I remember memorizing lists of dinosaurs and making a song about them. I just fell in love with paleontology,” she said.

Since then, her interest in science has broadened to biology, microbiology, and using data to drive discovery. Her computational research project, “Analyzing Virus Genomes with Intervene and Python Programs,” won a University of Utah ACCESS Scholarship award at the 2023 Regional Science Fair.

Her idea for the project was sparked by unanswered questions in a biology book and her desire to know more about the origins and evolution of viruses. “I couldn’t work with real viruses, because I don’t have a permit for that,” Shankar said. “But the National Institutes of Health has databases of genomes.”

Drawing on the database, she performed computational analyses of viral genomes and found patterns that may help explain why SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t spread as quickly in warmer climates.

Shankar moved from India to the United States at the age of one. She speaks five languages, not including the coding languages she learned in order to participate in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Beaver Works Summer Institute.

The Institute was a crash-course in hands-on learning — four weeks of eight-hour days collaborating with other students on projects like building an AI program that can help you name that tune. Google and Shazam can already do that, “but our goal was to see how Google does it and see if we could do it on a smaller scale,” Shankar said.

She and her MIT co-inventors then set about creating a pill identifier that can identify prescription drugs based on a photo, and a posture detector that monitors your posture and sends you an angry emoji when you start to slouch.

“MIT is just an insane hub of science and research,” Shankar says with enthusiasm in anticipation of enrolling next fall.

Though completing the school work and passing the tests needed for an IB diploma is pretty all-consuming, Shankar also made time for serving on the IB student council and managing the group’s website.

“It sounds cliché,” she said. “But I would tell other students to join as many clubs and try as many things as you can. You don’t have to stick with all of them. But you’ll never know what might interest you unless you give it a try.”

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Board Meeting Schedule

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that the Board of Education for Canyons School District will hold a regular study session and public business meeting at the Canyons District Office building, 9361 S. 300 E., Sandy, UT each month unless otherwise posted. The Board may determine to conduct some business during a study session. All business meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m. unless changed by the Board and appropriately posted for the public.

Please note that ALL DATES, TIMES and LOCATIONS listed on this scheduled are TENTATIVE and are subject to change at any time.  Please check this schedule often to be informed of any changes.

Unless otherwise specified, all meetings in the schedule below will take place as the Canyons District Office located at 9361 S. 300 E. in Sandy, Utah.

District Leaders

Dr. Rick Robins


Dr. Rick L. Robins is the superintendent of Canyons School District. Dr. Robins, who was selected by the Canyons Board of Education after a national search, brings 24 years of experience as an educator to his role as the chief executive officer of Utah’s fifth-largest school district. Prior to joining Canyons, Dr. Robins, who earned an Ed.D. from the University of Las Vegas, for six years was Superintendent of the Juab School District, based in Nephi, Utah. While there, Dr. Robins, who also was the Juab High School Principal from 2009-2013, helped oversee efforts to improve the district’s graduation rate to 97 percent, a double-digit increase over a 10-year period. Other innovations he led in Juab included a partnership with Arizona State University for blended-learning opportunities; the launch of a districtwide competency-based personalized learning model driven by a 1:1 technology initiative and standards-based reporting system; and the construction of the STEM-focused West Campus Innovations Center, funded largely through private and corporate sponsorships. Dr. Robins began his career as a history teacher at Copper Hills High in the Jordan School District and has worked as an assistant principal and principal in the Alpine, Nebo and Juab school districts. He was the 2012 Utah High School Principal of the Year for the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2014 earned the Lexington Institute Superintendent Fellowship Award presented to innovative superintendents across the country. Dr. Robins was starting quarterback for the football team at Southern Utah University Thunderbirds from 1991-1995, and in 2013 was inducted into SUU’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He has four children and one grandchild.

Leon Wilcox

Business Administrator and CFO

Leon Wilcox is a seasoned professional with 20 years of governmental accounting experience, with an emphasis on financial reporting, budgeting, and auditing. As Canyons District’ Director of Accounting from 2009-2013, Wilcox was intricately involved with the 2009 division of $1.5 billion in assets of the former Jordan School District, and was responsible for establishing Canyons’ original and subsequent budgets. Wilcox, a certified public accountant who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Utah State University, also has worked nine years in the Granite School District and six years in the State Auditor’s Office.

Supervises:  Accounting and Budget Services, Facilities and Maintenance, Insurance, New Construction Budget, Nutrition Services, Purchasing, Payroll

Dr. Robert M. Dowdle

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and School Performance

Robert Dowdle has a Doctor of Education degree with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah, and more than 31 years of experience as a teacher and educational leader. He began his career at Mount Jordan Middle School, where he taught Earth Science, English and Social Studies. He later taught Advanced Placement Economics, U.S. History and World History at Bingham High School, and served as Principal of Jordan High School and Assistant Principal for Alta High School and Brighton High School. Dowdle has served in the District office for 11 years as Assistant Superintendent. This role has included various leadership responsibilities, including Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Dowdle currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and School Performance.

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!

Specialty Schools

High Schools

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement

Canyons School District is committed to making this website compliant with the ADA. At this time, we recognize that not all areas of this website may be ADA compliant. We are currently in the process of redesigning and creating new website content to be compliant with the W3C Level Two guidelines. If you are experiencing issues with this website, please contact us here

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