Honoring a proud tradition, Canyons District is bidding a fond farewell to retiring colleagues. More than 30 employees have already made known their plans to make this school year their last—and whether they're withdrawing from active working life to travel or to be grandparents, we're confident the best is yet to come.

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.

Please join us at Open Houses to celebrate the careers of these amazing teachers, administrators and Education Support Professionals.  To be added to the list, email the name of the retiree and the date, time and place of the Open House to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  •  An Open House for Russ Best will be Thursday, Jan. 31, 2-4 p.m. in the East Conference Room at the East Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.
  • An Open House for Merlyn Rhoades will be Thursday, Jan. 312-4 p.m. in the Board Room at the East Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.
The famed Battle of the Ax, one of Utah’s longest-standing high school sports rivalries, is celebrating its 50th anniversary to coincide with the 50th year of Brighton High.

It was the 1969 opening of Brighton, in fact, that led to the creation of the Bengals’ annual wrestling competition against Hillcrest High. Brighton was built to accommodate growth in the southeastern portion of Salt Lake County, and stood to inherit some of Hillcrest's students. Bengal wrestling coach Don Neff and Hillcrest coach Tex Casto came up with the traveling trophy as a way to build school pride while preserving a united spirit of community through sportsmanship.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Brighton. It will be the last time that the competition will be held at the current Brighton campus—or the current Hillcrest campus, for that matter—because both schools are being completely rebuilt. Coaches Casto and Neff are expected to be honored at the event alongside former student wrestlers.

"In 50 years, a lot has changed. Computers fit in a pocket and phones no longer need a cord. Entertainment is on demand, and cars drive themselves," notes this Deseret News story about the competition's golden jubilee. "The one thing that has not changed is how two communities feel about a rivalry started 50 years ago by a couple of guys hoping to promote the sport of wrestling."

If you have a child who is receiving special education services in the Canyons School District, we want to know more about your experience.

As part of a routine survey performed every other year by the Utah State Board of Education, the District has scheduled a focus group to receive input from parents and guardians regarding their child’s education. We value your input, so please join us (see flyer below for details).

The State Board will be interested in hearing about your involvement in the IEP process, eligibility for services and transition services. You’ll also have an opportunity to provide other general feedback. Questions? Please contact 801-826-5191.

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We all grumble about our jobs from time to time, and teachers are no different. Those small and subtle messages, however, can quickly snowball to create an unflattering picture of teaching as a career choice—especially when uttered within earshot of impressionable young minds and compounded with news headlines about teacher shortages and walkouts.

But what if, instead of bemoaning the challenges of their chosen occupation, teachers consciously chose in their classrooms to talk about the autonomy they enjoy, the creativity involved in their jobs, and the meaningful difference they make? What if, as an experiment for a year, teachers wove messages into their lesson plans about the joys and rewards of working in education?

“Maybe it’s possible to flip the script, and counter negative talk about teaching with a groundswell of affirmative talk,” thought Canyons District recruiter Jo Jolley who set about doing just that through an ambassadorial program she created in partnership with the University of Utah’s Urban Institute for Teacher Education (UITE).

Here’s how it worked: Seven CSD teachers signed up to be ambassadors for which they received a small stipend from the U. Each was tasked with developing and testing strategies for elevating their profession, the end goal being to help build a healthy pipeline of future educators. The ambassadors were given free-license to come up with a campaign, program or messaging strategy that they felt would work best at their school, and their creativity was inspiring, says UITE Director Mary D. Burbank, Assistant Dean of the U.’s College of Education.

“Over the years, we’ve worked with area schools on dozens of programs to promote teaching and improve recruitment, but this is the first time we have asked teachers who are in the field to be ambassadors for their profession,” Burbank says. “Teachers are influential role models, and we know that daily exposure to positive role models factors heavily into people’s career choices. These ambassadors are exemplary educators who shine a positive light on their profession in ways that will perhaps change the perception of teaching and pique the interest of young people.”

Some of CSD’s ambassadors sponsored “Why I Teach” panel discussions. Others launched full-blown, college-level “Teaching 101” courses in CSD’s high schools. One such course at Hillcrest High, developed jointly with the U., attracted a large number of underrepresented minorities, a high-demand demographic for teacher-training programs looking to build a diverse, sustainable and high-quality teaching workforce.

But most of the ambassadors experimented with micro-messaging, those subtle—or not so subtle—messages that we convey about our values and expectations. Micro-messages can be found in a person’s tone of voice, a facial expression, or the utterance of a common phrase. They betray our beliefs and biases in ways we may not even be aware, but can also be used in constructive ways to drive cultural change.

recruitmentsidebar “We don’t have enough young people going into this profession, which probably has something to do with the way we portray our job on social media and in conversations,” said Denise Sidesinger, a science teacher at Albion Middle whose project entailed planting subliminal messages about teaching into classroom assignments and faculty meetings.

“I might tell my students, for example, that ‘I chose for us to do this experiment today, because as a teacher I have a lot of creative control,’” Sidesinger explained. “Or, if a student said something complimentary about a lesson or lecture, I would reply, ‘See, that’s why I like my job so much.’” She also devoted a column in the school newspaper to teacher testimonials, and wrote a letter to the editor titled, “We need loving teachers,” which was published in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Courtney Roberts, a social studies teacher at Hillcrest High, had t-shirts printed for her colleagues emblazoned with the words, “Ask me why I teach.” She then videotaped teachers’ responses and publicized them using posters with QR codes that linked back to the testimonials.

Butler Middle English teacher Anna McNamer provocatively titled her project, “Teaching: It’s Not for Everyone” out of a desire to provide students with a clear-eyed view of education. “Teacher retention is an issue I’m passionate about, and my professors were very honest with me about the realities of the job,” she says. “But for me, the joys of teaching far outweigh the challenges. It’s important for my students to hear that.”

McNamer created a bingo card with categories reflecting what most teachers say they value about teaching. During Teacher Appreciation Week and Career- and College-Readiness Week, she tasked students with obtaining signatures from faculty members whose feelings about teaching matched the categories. “The idea was to plant seeds in their mind about education as a career. It was really reinvigorating for me and many of my colleagues,” McNamer says. “It’s just been a great collaborative process.”

Other school districts along the Wasatch Front have expressed an interest in participating in the ambassador program, and the U. plans to expand and build upon it with a series of “Why I Teach” video testimonials.

“It’s a messaging issue. We’re simply trying to change the narrative a bit,” Burbank says. “Teachers don’t go into teaching to have a spotlight on them, and they don’t get the opportunity very often to showcase their work. But there are so many great things happening in schools, so many pockets of excellence. Why not celebrate the accomplishments of educators who tirelessly engage in the daily work of teaching?”

Four members of the Canyons Board of Education were sworn into office on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 after winning the majority of the votes in the November 2017 General Election. 

Also, in a historic decision, the newly empaneled Board voted to elect Nancy Tingey as the first female Board President in Canyons District history.

The atmosphere was celebratory Tuesday night as friends, families, supporters and Canyons District employees attended the first Board of Education meeting of 2019. They came to witness the re-elected and newly elected Board members take their Oaths of Office in the Board chambers of the Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East. A reception followed the swearing-in ceremony. 

The oaths, administered by Megan Allen, chief clerk of the Utah House of Representatives, were taken by Amber Shill, Clareen Arnold, Steve Wrigley, and Amanda Oaks.  Shill, Arnold and Wrigley were re-elected to their seats and Oaks replaces former President and inaugural CSD Board member Sherril H. Taylor, who did not run for re-election.

They join Board members Tingey, Chad Iverson and Mont Millerberg on the seven-member governing body of the 34,000-student school district. 

"The right to vote is a solemn responsibility," said Tingey in her opening remarks. "Tonight we honor and celebrate our newly elected members of the Board, as well as those who participated in the democratic process." 

After being sworn in, the newly elected members were invited to address the audience for a few minutes to thank friends and family members, outline their goals for their terms of office, and present philosophies about governance.

Shill, a Utah native with deep roots in civic engagement, was sworn into office to serve a second term representing District No. 2. Shill thanked her family for their support and said her priorities continue to be student achievement and transparency.

Wrigley took his oath to continue representing District No. 5 for a third term.  “I promise,” he said, “to continue to be your voice in education and to give my all in this public service.”

Arnold is starting her second term on the Board as the representative of District No. 4. A career educator of 30 years, she says she is humbled to represent a community that “cares about kids.”

Taking her oath for the first time, Oaks, an attorney and classically trained musician, said she believes collaborative partnerships between parents, educators, and administrators create stronger schools and communities.

The closing remarks were delivered by former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, a parent of a student at Corner Canyon High. He congratulated Canyons on its successful first decade and urged the Board to always hearken back to the reason the District was founded:  To be responsive to the needs and wants of the community and to encourage inspiring educational innovation and high student achievement.

See the District's Facebook page for a photo gallery of the ceremony and reception.
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