A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:
Nearly 15 years ago, former Weber School District teacher and current school board member, Mitzi Kawaguchi, gave me a children’s book entitled, I’m In Charge of Celebrations, by Byrd Baylor. Byrd’s book captures unique experiences that produced private celebrations. I love the book! These quiet, personal celebrations are simple, yet profound. This spring, I have enjoyed similar notable celebrations while visiting classrooms. For instance, Mrs. Salcido invited me to meet with the entire 6th grade at Burch Creek Elementary School and talk about leadership. I was captivated by these exceptional young people! We discussed powerful leadership lessons as taught by great men and women in our nation’s past and the students shared their insights while making modern-day connections. I celebrated inside as these marvelous 6th grade students demonstrated their tremendous potential to lead in our world—a vital need.
Mr. Fendrick asked if I would spend 90 minutes in his A.P. Literature class at Weber Innovation High School and teach a poetry lesson. Using a strategy known as “Expanded Reading,” we delved deeply into Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” Although written nearly 200 years ago, these impressive students not only discovered relevant insights but were inspired by Tennyson’s thirst for adventure – “I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees.” I stood in awe and silently celebrated as they revealed their dreams and contemplated the contribution each wished to make in their future. Tennyson captured these extraordinary students perfectly—“How dull it is to pause, to make an end; To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! As tho’ to breathe were life!”
A visit to H. Guy Child to celebrate 5-year-old Enashele Campbell’s winning submission for the National PTA Reflections theme of “Look Within,” will never be forgotten. Enashele’s submission was selected above every other one in the country and will become the 2019-20 theme for the entire United States! Enashele received a cash award and will be recognized at the upcoming National PTA Convention.
Mr. Hadley invited me to speak with the Bonneville faculty as they celebrated their school year, as well as their annual theme, “Be Someone’s Miracle.” The teachers’ focus has been on establishing meaningful relationships with students in ways that would inspire them to achieve their dreams and ambitions. I sat with these outstanding teachers as they shared story after story of young people who had fought through personal adversity with the reassurance of a trusted teacher at their side. No doubt, lives were changed in ways that reach far beyond grades or test scores. I was so appreciative of each teacher and celebrated their influence on students’ lives.
I celebrate with Mrs. Olson from West Haven Elementary who sent a personalized, encouraging note to every student prior to SAGE testing. The note communicated to each child that while the SAGE tests will measure something about the child, it could not measure everything. Lovingly, Mrs. Olson wrote, “The people who create and score these tests do not know each of you the way I do.” Then, she described what makes each child unique. One mother wrote to me, “It brought tears to my eyes. She goes above and beyond to make sure her students know how amazing they are. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate her dedication and love for her students.”
These celebrations just skim the surface. I know that every member of our Weber School District family has enjoyed similar celebrations. I invite you to quietly reflect on these singular experiences and know of the powerful influence for good that you are in the lives of children. For that, and on behalf of the board of education, I acknowledge and celebrate each of you!