What would you do if you had to break up a fight between inmates?  Or if an inmate was threatening self-harm?  Or asking you to bend rules of the in exchange for a favor? These are all situations that a corrections officer could face upon arriving for the first day of work at a jail. 

Students in the criminal justice program at the Canyons Technical Education Center put their skills and knowledge to the test when they faced simulations of real-life jail incidents that were done by “actors” who were given direction on how to talk and act by local law-enforcement agencies. 

The simulations, held Oct. 10-11, 2019 at CSD’s Crescent View building, 11150 S. 300 East, were eye-opening for students who are in the class and are mulling a career in law-enforcement.

The focus of the exercise was to help the 17- and 18-year-old students see first-hand what kind of situations they would need to handle in the real world of criminal justice.

The groups of students were asked to de-escalate physical and verbal situations between inmates, handle issues that could require medical assistance, and face inmates who are expressing suicidal tendencies. 

 “We’ve never done this kind of a simulation before,” says instructor Edwin Lehauli, “but we want our students to get a pretty good look at what it is like to be a corrections officer.” 

One simulation caught Alta senior Braedyn Sendizik by surprise. He said he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the actors playing the inmates.  “They kept trying to draw me in — and I got too drawn in instead of shutting it down” and insisting that directives be followed, he said.

“I learned from it,” he said, “and next time I will know better.”

Fellow Alta student Garrett Boland, who is eyeing a career as a lawyer, faced a simulation that required him to get inmates in their cells at the end of a day. “I learned to be aware of just about everything,” he said, noting that his instructor had tipped the class off to manipulation techniques often used by inmates so students would be prepared in the simulations.

“This definitely taught me a lot. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s also a lot of fun,” Sendizik said. “It’s like the real world. You have be ready for everything.  You have to know what you are walking into.”
The 2019 Apex Awards, the highest awards given by the Canyons Board of Education and Administration, were presented to 17 educators, administrators, community supporters, leaders, and public education advocates on Tuesday, Sept, 10, 2019.  

The honorees, accompanied by friends and family, as well as District officials, mayors, state legislators, and other dignitaries, were feted an a by-invitation-only banquet and ceremony at Corner Canyon High, one of the first new-building projects undertaken by Canyons after the public approved a $250 million tax-rate-neutral bond in 2010 to address building needs.   

The four winners of the 2019 Legacy Award, which is CSD’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement award, were not only instrumental in the development of the District’s ambitious construction schedule, including the construction of CCHS, but also the establishment of CSD’s current vision, mission and academic and financial plans and frameworks. 

As they were announced as the Legacy Award winners, the nearly 400 attendees of the ceremony gave a standing ovation to Tracy Scott Cowdell, Sherril H. Taylor, Kim Murphy Horiuchi and Ellen Wallace.

The four were serving as members of the then-Jordan School District's Board of Education when the people in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create the first new school district to be created in Utah in nearly a century. 

As a result, Cowdell, Taylor, Horiuchi and Wallace served in their duly elected posts on the Jordan Board of Education while also laying the groundwork for the operations and mission of the school district that would eventually come to be known as Canyons, which has quickly become one of the largest and most innovative school districts in Utah.

Faced with a looming July 1, 2009 launch date, the group did double-duty and worked tirelessly, both individually and in concert with municipal leaders and community partners, to build up Canyons from an simple idea to full realization. With professionalism, courage and smarts, and against political challenges, they set the course and established a vision for CSD. Simply put, they made history. Canyons would not exist — or at the least be so successful in so many ways — if it weren’t for their commitment to building a rock-strong foundation for the District.

Cowdell and Taylor also served as the Board’s first-ever Board of Education President and Vice President. Taylor also served as CSD’s second Board President. While Cowdell and Taylor led the Board, CSD rebuilt or started construction or renovation work on 16 schools.

At the 10th annual event, which also served as the District’s Decade of Distinction Gala, Canyons Board of Education President Nancy Tingey congratulated the all the winners for their contributions to Canyons, both while in its infancy and today.  The 2019 Teacher of the Year from all CSD schools also were recognized for their contributions to the success of CSD. 

“Eleven years ago, we started this historic journey of working together to build a world-class school district for our community,”  Tingey said. “This year’s winners of the Apex Awards certainly have helped Canyons District on our journey, and we are grateful they are part of the Canyons District family. Their commitment to the success of our schools, whether from the very beginning of Canyons District or in recent years, is very much appreciated and has made a difference.” 

She also recognized those who attended the events held in 2009 to celebrate the start of Canyons District, including banquets, sign-changing parties and bus parades.  

“Many of you here tonight were instrumental in the creation of Canyons District, and celebrated with us at our Kick Off Banquet the night before we officially became the 41st school district in Utah on July 1, 2009," she said. “This celebration tonight, a decade later, is a continuation of the traditions of community engagement that were established at the founding of the District and is our way of extending our heartfelt appreciation for that tireless dedication.”

Other 2019 Apex Award winners include: 

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  • David Morrill was well on his way to becoming a physicist and working for the government, right up until his senior year of college, when he was asked to step in and teach a freshman physics lab and found his true calling: teaching.

    Now, after teaching at Jordan High for 30 years, Morrill has been named of one of five Utah finalists to receive a 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and math teachers in grades K-12. Up to 108 of the awards are bestowed every year as a way to recognize teachers who develop and implement exemplary programs that enhance student learning, according to the Utah State Board of Education, which announced the finalists on Tuesday, Aug. 27. 

    “It’s a great honor to be considered for this, and I think it shows we have great teachers,” Morrill said. “I feel a little inadequate because I believe there are a lot of teachers at Jordan who are so good at what they do and I just am really impressed with the quality of teachers I get to interact with.”download

    Morrill says he has always been fascinated with the laws of physics. Every day, he demonstrates principles of physics in action, and discusses with his students how their predictions of what may occur are often misguided. The concepts of projectile motion, inertia and mass often surprise his students, he says. But he loves nothing more than to discuss mathematical relationships, circumference, diameter and Pi with his class.

    “I have found I really, really enjoy teaching,” Morrill says. “I know that every day there is somebody’s life that I do touch and change, and 99 times out of 100 I never know who that is because they don’t come and tell me. But I do know it’s going on, and I have found that is the reason I really enjoy teaching, because I do have an effect on student’s lives every single day.”

    A national selection committee is set to review the finalists for the Presidential Award, and it is expected the winners will be announced in the summer or fall of 2020. Of the five finalists representing Utah, two will be chosen for the award and receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip to Washington D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

    This isn't the first recognition that Morrill has received for his extraordinary teaching abilities. Below is a video spotlighting his receipt of a Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education.

    Set — and make — goals! 

    That’s the message Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC players sent on Monday, Aug. 19 when they visited elementary and middle schools to welcome students back to school after a long summer break.  

    For three years, the professional soccer players who take to the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium, located in Canyons District boundaries, have criss-crossed Canyons on the first day of school, giving high-fives and fist-bumps to students as they make their way into school for the first day of the school year. 

    The visits also served as invitations to come see the players at upcoming games. The early fall games usually draw teachers, school staff, students and parents who are both celebrating the start of the school year and stretching summer fun into fall.  And attending students can cheer for the players they met on the first day of school. 

    Thanks to the generosity of the Real Salt Lake organization, Canyons families, including employees, can attend Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Real Monarchs games at discounted prices. To take advantage of this back-to-school promotion, go to www.rsl.com/promo, enter the promo code, “CSD,” and select the game you’d like to attend.
    • Real Salt Lake — Buy one, get one free for the Wednesday, Sept. 11. game vs. the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. (Please note that the tickets will show up under the promo code as half-priced). 
    • Utah Royals FC — One free ticket per student, with each additional ticket costing $10 for the Friday, Sept. 6 game vs. the Portland Thorns at 7:30 p.m.
    • Real Monarchs — One free ticket, with each additional ticket costing $8 for the Friday, Aug. 30 game vs. OKC Energy at 8 p.m.
    The robust cheers heard throughout the Salt Lake Valley on Monday, Aug. 19 were likely from the back-to-school celebrations held at Canyons District schools.   

    Per an 11-year tradition, principals rolled out red carpets to welcome students to the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers, principals, and parents, as well as Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe and members of the Canyons Board of Education, lined up to snap photos, cheer and give high-fives and fist bumps to the students headed into school for the first time of the school year.

    Adding to the festivities were players from Real Salt Lake and Royals FC, the professional soccer players who compete at Rio Tinto Stadium, located within the Canyons District boundaries.  The players, who encouraged all the students to set their sights on reaching their goals, were accompanied by Leo the Lion, who attracted a crowd wherever he went.  

    Elementary and middle school students also received a free pencil for their backpacks.  Another tool Canyons District is providing students is “social-emotional” training to make good decision, manage emotions and solve problems. After all, children can’t learn at high levels if they feel insecure, anxious, stressed or scared. 

    BJ Weller, Canyons’ Responsive Services Director, appeared on ABC4 and KUTV on the first day of school to talk about how the District is helping children develop the confidence and character traits needed for success in life and school. This includes things like teaching students who to set and achieve goals, make and keep friends, and make responsible decisions.   

    “We’re still teaching math, science, reading and writing … but we’re now cognizant of how, say the simple act of reading, can teach children empathy by exposing them to different perspectives or persisting with a math problem can teach perseverance,” he says.  “As a parent, you may hear your teacher refer to this as social-emotional learning. But it’s really best described as life skills, which, research suggests can significantly increase a student’s chances of graduating from high school and college.”

    In Canyons District, the Board of Education has invested in the hiring and training of psychologists, social workers and counselors for every school. These professionals are there as a resource for families and to help maintain environments where children feel connected and safe to raise their hands, try hard things, and reach out to new friends. Also, starting this fall, and over the next few years, Canyons schools will be rolling out a new, social-emotional learning curriculum to help teachers and staff speak the same language when talking about things like problem-solving, focusing in class, and working as teams.

    “Again, much of this is just part of everyday learning. For example, while reading a book in kindergarten about a boy who loses his dog, the teacher might prompt students to talk about how the boy feels or discuss steps he might take to begin searching for his pet. A failed science experiment can serve as an important lesson about it’s OK when things don’t work as planned, it’s part of the learning process. It’s kind of a new way of thinking about book smarts.”

    Parents can support, Weller says, by modeling a positive attitude about education and showing interest in their child’s classes, teachers and friends.
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