Superintendent Messages

Superintendent Messages (77)

Tuesday, 01 October 2019 13:14

October 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Lori Rasmussen:

An Ordinary Day 

As we have been out reading in our schools, one couldn't help but notice the many dedicated people who work diligently to provide our students with a remarkable school experience. One wouldn't have to look far to see boundless amounts of work and service being rendered. In an ordinary day you might witness a maintenance worker repairing a drinking fountain, a custodian mowing the lawn, buses picking up and delivering our precious students,  and a student resource officer ensuring the safety of our students. As you walk into the school, the tremendous smell of lunch being prepared would waft through the air. One could hear the sounds of learning throughout the halls. One might hear a teacher's voice delivering a thoughtful lesson, students collaborating, a parent volunteer tutoring a child with reading, or the silence of students working on a project using their chromebooks. Add to this, the sight of a secretary comforting a student who doesn't feel well and a principal greeting students warmly in the hall. What a wonderful, ordinary day! As I reflected on the many visits to schools it occurred to me the enormity of daily effort  that goes into providing students with a quality education. You've heard the quote "It takes a village to raise a child." This African proverb  means that an entire community of people must interact with children in order for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Our community epitomizes this concept. Weber District is honored to be part of a community where the whole child is valued. Where every Weber School District employee strives to ensure all students are safe, challenged, supported, and engaged. The fine efforts of employees, parents, and community members to move good forward in our district provides an extraordinary education for our students. Thanks to all! 

Speaking of a village. . . here are some numbers behind the story-

  • Weber School District was formally established in 1905
  • Weber School District is the 7th largest district out of 41 district's in the state
  • We currently have 45 schools
  • There are 33,000 K-12 students in Weber School District
  • There are 400 Preschool students
  • There are over 3600 employees
  • We serve over 18,300 meals daily
  • Buses pick up students at 6,693 bus stops daily
Sunday, 01 September 2019 22:01

September 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Art Hansen:

Last year, my first-grade granddaughter came home from school with a powerful message shared with her class by an inspired teacher. She told me, "Grandpa, you've gotta' dream big!" When I asked her what that meant; she told me that we can do great things if we dream big. I asked her what great things she would like to accomplish, and she shared with me several occupations she wanted to do and a dream to one day compete in the Olympics.  

I loved the sparkle in her eyes as she envisioned a future from the perspective of a six-year-old. Although it is likely that her dreams will change over time, I was encouraged that a person whom she respected encouraged her to think about what her future may hold, that the sky's the limit, and that she will have the chance to explore opportunities to discover her talents.  

It is my hope that every one of us can remember those in our lives who have encouraged us to try something we never would have dared attempt without their encouraging words -- the confidence they showed in us that enabled us to accomplish something we wouldn't have otherwise tried or dreamed we could do.    

That is why I love the education profession. It is filled with caring adults who want to give back and make a difference in the lives of their students. They all have a story of why they chose education as their career path. Most of those stories involve an influential teacher or staff member who had an impact on their lives. We have multiple opportunities every day to recognize the good in our students, to plant seeds that encourage the exploration of knowledge and opportunities that will guide their future.  

The words we use around all children are powerful…both for the positive or the negative. Let's work to sow the seeds of encouragement, sharing confidence-building messages. By helping our children develop skills and talents and by recognizing and reinforcing positive behaviors, every adult has the power to make a difference in the life of a child.  

Thursday, 01 August 2019 15:31

August 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

Some parents shared with me a note they discovered from their 7-year-old son who was obviously doing some personal goal-setting prior to the start of school. This little boy had carefully written the following:

  • Goof ball switch – off!
  • Be nice to new friends.
  • Don't cry (unless you're hurt).
  • Be super awesome.
  • Have fun!

Now that's a bold set of goals! Back to school is a phrase that suggests shopping for clothes, buying supplies and making new friends. For many, the anticipation of attending a new school, meeting your teacher for the first time or taking a new class can generate not only excitement, but apprehension as well. Certainly, going back to school is reason for celebration because with it comes an opportunity to learn and grow.

One of my favorite Weber District 'beginning of school' traditions is visiting each elementary classroom with members of the district leadership team and reading to children, as well as distributing Superintendent's Summer Reading Awards to those students who have read 10 books or 1,000 pages during the summer. Typically, we give out about 5,000 awards each fall. The book that I'll read in classrooms this fall is What Do You Do With A Chance? By Kobi Yamada. This is the story of some remarkable chances and a child who doesn't know quite what to do with them. However, the more chances come around the more the child's fascination grows. And then, one day, a little courage makes all the difference!

I love the question posed in the title of the book—What do you do with a chance?  As we begin a new school year there are so many chances and opportunities that are within our grasp. For students, the chance to learn, to make new friends and to achieve personal goals. Parents can volunteer their time, participate on a community council and support their child's learning at home. Principals can connect to students, support teachers and school staff and advocate for their schools. For teachers, the opportunity to influence a child, to teach an important life lesson or to acquire a new teaching skill. As we start this new school year, each of us has extraordinary opportunities in front of us—chances to make a difference. The question is, 'What will we do with a chance?'

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:08

May 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

Teacher and Student Success

The 2019 Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 149, which created the Teacher and Student Success Program. Sponsored by Senator Ann Millner, the bill provides funds for local schools to support student performance and academic achievement. Money from a school's Teacher and Student Success Program can also be used for teacher professional development, school personnel stipends for taking on additional responsibility outside of a typical work assignment, or hiring of additional school employees, including counselors, social workers, mental health workers, tutors, media specialists, information technology specialists or behavior aides. Schools might opt to add technology or create before- and after-school programs (including summer school programs) that can increase student performance. Certainly, the money could be used for class size reduction efforts or the augmentation of existing programs. Funds cannot be used for district administration costs or capital expenditures.

While we don't yet have the exact figures for each school, it is anticipated that each school will receive approximately $100.00 per student. This is ongoing money, so the expectation is that schools will receive at least that amount every year. These funds, coupled with the annual trust lands money that flows to schools each year, make it possible to provide even greater levels of support to teachers and students—a truly remarkable thing! Principals will be asked to seek input from the school community council, teachers, parents and others in developing their school's Teacher and Student Success Plan. These plans will then be submitted to the local board of education for approval. As long as the school plan is aligned to the district TSSA framework, they will be approved by our local board.

This infusion of funding brings with it many exciting opportunities that will enable us to better support teachers and better serve students. We are most appreciative of Senator Millner's work and the entire Utah Legislature for their support of public education. I'm extremely optimistic thinking about what each school can accomplish with this new money. Although some questions remain during this first year of implementation, I have directed our principals to assertively move forward developing their Teacher and Student Success Plan. I encourage you to engage with your local principal in providing input for that plan.

Tuesday, 02 April 2019 09:32

April 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Lori Rasmussen:

There is a story of the daffodil principle. It is a story of one woman planting over five acres of daffodils. She began this adventure in 1958; she planted over 50,000 bulbs one at a time--with her own two hands. The result was a delightful field on a distant mountain top. The impact one person made was astounding. It looked as if a talented artist had taken her brush to the earth. What a difference she made to the landscape. People would come from miles around to visit this amazing sight!

We have heard many quotes about making a difference. One favorite is by Robert F. Kennedy,

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. . ."
― Robert F. Kennedy

As I visit schools, this is exactly what I see in our classrooms. A combination of the daffodil principle and numberless acts of courage. I see teachers, administrators, volunteers,and staff members working with our students one by one building their learning capacity and developing the best in our children. Making a difference over the course of their educational careers. Impacting "acres" of students, forever changing their lives, sending forth a tiny ripple of hope.

I recently spoke with a teacher and she shared her journey of this school year. She spoke about the progress made, the growth of her students and herself. It was a beautiful thing to see. We are fortunate to have such wonderful teachers, administrators, staff and parents in our district working to make a difference. Let's celebrate the beauty around us! There is no better day than today to start something beautiful in our lives. Let's take the first step toward a goal, celebrate the beauty that exists around us, and start a ripple of hope!

Thursday, 14 March 2019 10:11

March 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Kevin Sederholm:

I've had the opportunity to write a few of these superintendency messages now. I would like to take this last one to tell those that work in the Weber School District, thank you! I would also like to thank the many students and parents that have crossed my path and enriched my life. For 31 years I have marveled at the employees we have in this district from the teachers, administrators, parents, students and all classified staff. I've been fortunate to work with a wonderful school board made up of exceptional individuals who exhibit great care and love toward the children they serve. This has been another family for a long time.

Now that I'm at this point, there are many wonderful memories I've had such as teaching elementary students to read and write to playing basketball and 4 square with them out on the playground. To the many students that gave me a high five in the hall. To the many office staffs I have worked with that have become lifelong friends. I will always remember the big impact that a teacher will have on a student's life even after their schooling is over. I have been the beneficiary of some of those great teachers that worked in our district and so have my children. I will remember the many friendly bus drivers that greeted me each morning and always took such good care of their precious cargo. I will always remember coaches that taught not only the X's and O's but many life lessons as well.

I've had the opportunity to work with so many good parents that always provided the support that so many of our students needed as well as the countless hours that were volunteered on the school's behalf. I look back with fondness on the many positive notes and thoughts that were sent on my behalf as well as the many conversations where I received necessary feedback.

I've been asked, what is the most important thing I will take away from my career? That answer is easy, it's the relationships. So many people that have touched my life in a positive way. I've learned that public education isn't perfect and it takes a continuous effort on everyone's part to make it work. As the saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child". I feel I've been a part of a pretty good village.

Thank You Weber School District!

Sincerely,

Kevin Sederholm
Assistant Superintendent

Friday, 01 February 2019 14:00

February 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

"For Good"

While visiting Bonneville High School this past December, I happened to walk by the choir room. The sound coming from Mishy Kirby's Tapestry class was simply too inviting to pass up. I listened to remarkable young people rehearsing several songs for their upcoming holiday performances. The students even let me select a number and they performed it for me. Following that song, I stood beside this extraordinary teacher who has impacted so many students through the years and asked the class, "Do you know how lucky you are to be able to have this incredible woman as your teacher?" Their response was one of heart-felt warmth and gratitude. Then I said, "I am going to ask you to get together as a class for just a minute and select one song that you would like to sing that expresses just how you feel about her."

They quickly gathered into what looked like a friendly rugby scrum and within a matter of moments quickly dispersed to retrieve the sheet music in the back of the room. The song they selected—"For Good" from the hit Broadway musical Wicked. What followed is a moment I will forever cherish as these students, who deeply loved and admired their teacher, sang from the bottom of their hearts:

I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason;

Bringing something we must learn…. who help us most to grow if we let them,

And we help them in return.

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true,

But I know I'm who I am today because I knew you!

It was a memorable experience I shall never forget! And, for me it represented everything that's good about the relationship between a teacher and students. Students develop a trust, a respect and an appreciation for what a caring teacher does for them. Lives are changed for the better because kids know you!

I recognize that every adult who works in Weber School District has that same potential impact "for good" on students. While we may not have the opportunity to have our students sing to us expressing how they feel, I know that their gratitude is every bit as real. I appreciate each one of you for changing lives "for the better."

Tuesday, 01 January 2019 21:06

January 2019 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Lori Jo Rasmussen:

The new year is always a chance for new beginnings, setting goals, and looking ahead to the future. What an amazing opportunity we have this beautiful season!

Quite by accident, I started a tradition years ago. At the beginning of the year, I would clear out the clutter, go through closets, the toy box, etc. This was not an ambitious goal that I had set, but action spurred by pure necessity. Our house was small and with the addition of a few new Christmas toys, clothes, etc., it was necessary to make space. The feeling of accomplishment from this small task was always a bit of a pleasant surprise! Who would think that such a small task would provide clarity, organization, and focus.

I was talking with a friend about the upcoming decluttering of the house when she stated that she was going to declutter her life. Interested, I asked her to tell me more. She said she was going to declutter her home, much the way I had planned, but was also going to declutter her mind. She was going to let go of any negative thoughts or hurt that she had held onto over the years.  It makes sense. . .when all your available space is filled with clutter there is no room for anything new to come into your life! You tend to look back rather than forward in your life.

As we look forward to the new year, let's take this opportunity to help our students declutter their desks, rooms, backpacks, and especially rid their minds of negative thoughts. These kinds of thoughts can take up precious time and energy.

Every day. . . let alone every year, is an opportunity to change one’s life. We have the power to say "this is not how my story ends." We have the power to rewrite our destiny. When you sit down to reflect on last year’s successes and shortcomings, and you are ready to set a goal for the new year, include the opportunity for growth and positivity in your life. Remember to "Live for each moment! Today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope!"  I wish you all a hopeful, happy new year!

Monday, 03 December 2018 10:20

December 2018 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Kevin Sederholm:

Happy Holidays.

What a great time of year, the season of giving. One of the benefits of working in the District Office is to hear all of the marvelous acts of kindness and giving that go on throughout our educational community. Here are a couple of examples that have brightened my holiday season so far:

  1. The Christmas Tree Jubilee. I have written about this before but I never cease to be amazed at the giving of talents, time and money during this event. So many children from the Weber School District benefit from this event. Hats off to Emily Oyler and her incredible team from the Foundation and countless volunteers that make this event happen.
  1. Bethani Zimmerman is being recognized in the December Board Meeting for the District Volunteer Award. As a 5th and 6th grade student at Freedom Elementary, Bethani would give up her lunch and other recess times to go and volunteer at the Severe Unit at the school. Bethani helped children with various disabilities and behaviors, some of which were extreme. There were even instances that some of that behavior was directed at her. That never stopped Bethani from showing up each day to help these students.  Bethani’s example has inspired me and I’m sure others during this time of year.

There are many other examples of goodness in our community going on at this time. It’s what makes the holiday season so special. May you all have a wonderful Christmas Season.

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