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When architects of the new Midvale Middle suggested cloistering the library in a quiet corner of the building, the school’s Media Specialist said, “Sorry, but that just won’t do.” The library, she explained, should be at the center of the school. It should be an open, inviting space for students to hang out with friends, study, check email, or play an educational videogame. It should be a place to collaboratively explore, create, and even make noise — a place where students find common ground in common interests. The architects agreed, and the communal design ethic they embraced is evident throughout…
Honoring a proud tradition, Canyons District is bidding a fond farewell to retiring colleagues. Sixty-two employees are departing Canyons this year for their happily ever after. Some have devoted 40 years or more to Utah’s public school system, and many have worked for Canyons since the district’s inception in 2009. All of them have contributed to CSD’s success. “Whether you have worked in school classrooms, school front offices, school buses or school grounds, all of you have worked to help children, and help build a better tomorrow,” says Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor. “In all your duties, you’ve…
What if the Three Little Pigs were really the bad guys? What if the Fairy Godmother never showed up? Who would win in a dance battle, Cinderella or Snow White? There’s nothing quite like a fairytale to capture the imagination of a child. So, an invitation to re-write one seemed the most natural place for Sherise Longhurst’s students to start when tasked with composing their own opera. “The kids voted on the ideas they wanted to include in the opera, and then we wrote a plot outline. Then they split up into small groups, and every group wrote one of…
Joani Richardson is the kind of teacher who can breathe new life into words, pull magic from a page, and spark wonder in the eyes of eager-to-learn children. “I love to teach children to love to read,” says Richardson. “I have failed if I have not taught a child to love to read.” For her dedication to inspiring her first-grade students at Altara Elementary to learn and grow, Richardson, who is beloved by scores of students, parents and fellow educators, has received one of the most prestigious awards given to public-school educators in Utah.  On Friday, April 28, 2017, in…
Family is important to Vinnie Vala’au, though for most of his youth, the stable home life he yearned for, and wanted to provide his two younger siblings, remained just out of reach. “Growing up, I faced a lot of trials,” says the Alta High senior. But sometimes home is where you find it, and Vinnie found it in Sandy, Utah, miles from his Samoan homeland, and in the caring, supportive teachers and counselors at Alta High. “Their expectations were high for me, and I’m so grateful for that,” he says. Vinnie first enrolled at Alta two years ago as a…
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