Superintendent Messages

Superintendent Messages (62)

Thursday, 02 August 2012 17:56

August Superintendency Message

Jeff Stephens, New Superintendent of Weber School DistrictChoice in education is a widely popular concept in our society today. As we prepare to begin another school year, I am proud to be a part of a district that offers so many different choices for students and families. Weber School District provides a robust array of opportunities for students to enrich their educational experience. While it is impossible to list every academic or extracurricular opportunity available to students, I want to underscore a few. I encourage students to consider their personal interests and take advantage of the many options available in Weber School District.

  1. Concurrent Enrollment and Advanced Placement – Last year, 2,114 Weber School District students completed 18,151 college credits in concurrent enrollment courses. These credits count toward both high school and college graduation. Additionally, 862 high school students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Of those students, 569 students passed the required AP test, which is a 66% pass rate—well above the global pass rate of 60%--thereby earning college credit. 
  2. On-Line Courses – There are 436 students who are enrolled in an on-line course sponsored by our district. Students not only have increased flexibility in taking these on-line courses, but they also have access to a teacher if they need support in completing the course. 
  3. Dual Immersion – We have 472 children in four elementary schools (Freedom, Bates, Majestic, and Uintah) who are engaged in a dual immersion language program. Freedom and Majestic offer a Spanish dual immersion experience, while students at Uintah and Bates may learn Chinese. 
  4. Full-Day Kindergarten – Incoming kindergarten children who attend one of our six Title I elementary schools have the option to attend full-day kindergarten. More than 375 children currently attend full-day kindergarten. 
  5. Gifted and Talented Programs - 50 elementary children are enrolled in gifted and talented magnet programs at Pioneer and Roosevelt Elementary Schools. Students from around the district can apply to attend these 5th & 6th grade magnet programs. In addition, 692 students participated in PAL (Program for Accelerated Learners) camps this summer. These camps emphasized skill development in science, math, writing, leadership, theater, and the arts. 
  6. Athletics – Thousands of secondary school students participate in extracurricular athletics. Teams are available in football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, track and field, soccer, wrestling, drill team, and cheerleading. Many more students participate in “Club” sports (e.g., hockey, rodeo, lacrosse, etc.). 
  7. Theater – Each of our junior high schools and high schools offer opportunities for students to participate in drama. These are outstanding programs that introduce students into theater production and the plays are performed for the public. Hundreds of students’ educational experience is enriched through their participation in the arts.
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 07:43

May Superintendency Message

Jeff Stephens, New Superintendent of Weber School DistrictAs we come to the conclusion of another school year, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to each of you for your tremendous efforts, which have contributed to a successful year. Every time I visit schools, I am overwhelmed by the remarkable dedication and professionalism of all Weber School District employees. Each of you makes a difference in the quality of educational experience that children have in our schools. Thank you!

I enjoy the poem by Marge Piercy called, “To Be of Use.” The poet begins with these lines:

“The people I love best jump into work head first…”

The poem goes on to describe people working together collaboratively who “harness themselves” to a task and then pull with “massive patience.” I love that phrase—massive patience. And, I know that sometimes our work requires just that—massive patience! Your efforts with young people who are learning to make good decisions and maturing in their personal development can be challenging at times. But, these same young people look to you as role models and examples. You are a stabilizing and anchoring influence in their lives. Think of the deep respect you have for memorable teachers in your past. That is precisely how our students feel about you!

Piercy’s poem concludes with a statement that people cry out to be engaged in “work that is real.” Without doubt, our work is real. You impact real lives in a very real way. As you conclude this school year and prepare for a summer break, please know how much you’re appreciated. With Highest Regards,


Friday, 30 March 2012 17:56

April Superintendency Message

Jeff Stephens, New Superintendent of Weber School DistrictRecently, the Weber Board of Education officially announced their intent to hold a bond election on June 26, 2012. Following months of study, the board has determined to bond for $65 million dollars. Most importantly, these bonds can be issued without increasing tax rates. Being able to bond without increasing property tax rates represents wise and prudent fiscal management on the part of our board of education. Successful passage of the bond election will address growth in student population as well as several aging facilities. The average age of the schools recommended for replacement is 68 years. The following projects have been identified by the board:

  1. Replacement of West Weber Elementary School (Built in 1928);
  2. Replacement of Wahlquist Junior High School (Built in 1942);
  3. Replacement of North Park Elementary School (Built in 1959);
  4. 10-Classroom Addition at Rocky Mountain Junior High School;
  5. Replacement/Consolidation of Club Heights (1942) and Marlon Hills (1961);
  6. Remodel of gym, cafeteria, and auditorium at North Ogden Junior High;
  7. Address growth in the north and west through either a new elementary school or additions on existing schools.

We recognize that the above list does not include all the needs in our district. A bond that addressed all the needs in our district would require a significant tax increase. It is important to note, however, that when major construction projects are being addressed with bond money, it frees up local capital dollars to address other needs throughout the district. Hence, every school and community benefits from a successful bond election.

This list of projects represents an aggressive construction plan. Because construction costs and interest rates are currently very low, the school board has concluded that this is an optimum time to address our growth and aging facilities. These are projects that will need to be addressed at some point. Delaying replacement and construction would likely result in a significant increase in overall cost.

During the months of April and May, I will be visiting each faculty to discuss the bond and answer any questions from our employees. Thank you for your remarkable support and extraordinary professionalism!

Monday, 05 March 2012 09:17

March Superintendency Message


Our schools have great leadership, highly qualified teachers, exceptional, supportive staffs and motivated students. We are well-organized and operate with great efficiency under normal conditions; occasionally however, a situation may arise that causes a school to face unusual demands, this may be due to the death of a student, faculty member or another unexpected and unpredictable event.  During such an emergency, our schools must maintain day to day operations as well as try and meet the needs of those affected by the crisis.

In our schools, a crisis can impact many or a few individuals, including not only students, but faculty as well. Depending upon the nature and impact of the crisis, Weber School District has in place a team of individuals under the direction of Bob Wood, Student Service’s Director and Sara Allen, Student Services Coordinator, that respond to help the schools when requested by the principal. The team is comprised of counselors from different school levels, Student Services Coordinators and the Student Services Director

The District Crisis Team is available to each school, if it is determined that the event will have a significant impact on the students and/or faculty. A phone call from the school principal, to the Director of Elementary or Secondary Education, is all it takes to start the process. From there, they contact the Director of Student Services who activates the team. Help from the district team will vary, depending upon the needs of the school; how many people are impacted; when and where the incident occurred; and if it involves a death or serious injury. 

In the day-to-day operations of a school, the administration and counseling staff will handle many smaller crisis situations. The district crisis team’s job is to help the principal and counselors when they may be in a position where they don’t have enough resources on hand. The team is there for support and to coordinate any additional services as requested. This may include communicating to parents of distraught students; organizing a place for impacted students to meet for additional support; and a sympathetic ear for affected faculty members. The team’s primary purpose is to help when help is needed and remain at the school as long as necessary.

After the crisis situation, the team coordinates with the school principal and school counselors to make certain their needs have also been met. Our Crisis Team is one of the best in the State and is called upon frequently to train other teams within the region. We are grateful to have such a well-qualified and professional team. 

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 10:33

February Superintendency Message

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. will require at least an associate’s degree or a post-secondary vocational certificate. In the near future, employers will be hiring individuals with technology education training more than any other group. Higher level knowledge and skills are not only requisite for traditional college bound students but also for those students who are entering the career fields of technology. Weber School District (WSD) is meeting this demand by offering secondary students the opportunities to learn from well-qualified instructors to help prepare them for future employment in the real world of technology application.

WSD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) offers a multitude of educational opportunities, courses, internships, and student organizations to better prepare students with 21st Century knowledge and skills. Many of the high school CTE courses in WSD offer Concurrent Enrollment (CE) credit through many of Utah’s colleges and universities.

Worked Based Learning (WBL) opportunities are provided to qualified 12th grade students. Through this program, apprenticeships and internships are available at participating local businesses, medical facilities, schools and government entities.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) gives students hands-on pre-engineering courses and provides a rigorous curriculum of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). PLTW is a national program that is offered in all 50 states. Recently, WSD’s PLTW program housed at Two Rivers High School, received the “Model School Award for Leadership” in STEM education. Only 16 of the participating 4,200 schools received this distinguished honor.

Secondary schools in WSD can become actively involved in a variety of CTE classes ranging from business, health sciences, technology, robotics, computer technology, and digital electronics to manufacturing, construction, automotives, welding, architecture and engineering ….. and everything in between. Through the CTE programs, students can also engage themselves in several different student organizations to help enhance their interest and abilities in CTE.

As a district, we are very fortunate to have such dedicated, professional CTE leaders and instructors who enhance and multiply the learning opportunities of our students. We are also deeply appreciative of the army of local business, medical, school and government leaders who have partnered with us to help students better prepare themselves for future educational and career opportunities.

Lex Puffer

Monday, 02 January 2012 10:33

January Superintendency Message

Recently, I finished re-reading Notebooks of the Mind, a fascinating book that explores how creative people think and examines the human mind working at its highest potential.  In particular, one phrase caught my attention--"the legacy of distant teachers."  The author, Vera John-Steiner, described the critical role that teachers play in shaping lives.  I began reflecting upon the "legacy of distant teachers" who have impacted me.  The list of memorable teachers was long; however, I do want to briefly mention one very special teacher—Janice Cashmore-Allen.

I opened the newspaper on New Year's Day to learn of Janice’s passing.  I student taught with Janice 28 years ago at South Ogden Junior High School.  Janice was a master teacher and the consummate professional.  She was my friend and mentor and will be greatly missed.  When I consider "the legacy of distant teachers" in my life, Janice is at the top of the list.  Although no longer with us, Janice’s influence on my life continues.  Therein is the legacy of a teacher!

Since becoming superintendent, I have been in dozens of classrooms throughout our district and observed numerous master teachers.  Weber School District is fortunate to have dedicated, caring teachers and professionals who shape and impact children's lives.  One paradox of teaching is that although typically occurring in large-group settings, the effects are always individual.  Great teachers possess the capacity to connect with each student.  These connections are held not in teachers' methods but in their hearts.  Although the rewards of teaching are not always tangible, be assured that you will be among "the legacy of distant teachers" as your students reflect on those who have influenced them.  I thank each of you for your great efforts!

Monday, 12 December 2011 10:07

December Superintendency Message

lindacarverI have had the pleasure on numerous occasions to speak to University students within their educational departments throughout the State of Utah.  Without exception, the overriding concern they share is the availability of employment opportunities.  Many, many times I have been asked if we ever hire new teachers.   It has been interesting to watch their reactions when I inform them that we have hired well over one hundred new teachers for the past three years. They then mention they have heard rumors that we have imposed a hiring freeze.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is accurate that prior to these years, we have hired slightly more teachers, but the demand for new teachers is still great.  This past year we also hired over one hundred classified employees.

"Weber School District is committed to provide educational experiences which motivate each student to become a lifelong learner, attain academic and personal potential, and enter the workforce with the necessary skills." This mission statement is our number one priority but it is noteworthy that in addition to providing academic excellence,  we are also the second largest employer in Weber County, the first being the IRS.  We have over thirty-three hundred caring employees that contribute a great deal to the community and economy of Weber County.

Thanks to all.

Thursday, 06 October 2011 12:40

October Superintendency Message

Lex Puffer, Asst. Superintendent of Weber School DistrictIn the new Common Core State Standards Initiative, college and career-readiness standards have been incorporated into the K-12 standards which will enable educators to better prepare students for the 21st century. The Utah State Board of Education gave permission for school districts to take time to implement training of the core to educators. The WSD Board of Education granted a full school day for the purpose of training, planning, collaboration and application of the new core. On September 30, elementary and secondary educators gathered together in several different locations across the district for general and subject-specific training and teacher development. The focus of the day was centered on speaking, listening, writing and comprehension of informational text across all curricular areas. Teachers have indicated that the Common Core training day was valuable and impactful. We are currently in the process of gathering more data from educators to help determine the level of effectiveness of the training and how to improve similar trainings in the future. We appreciate the members of the WSD Board of Education for their support in allowing educators this valuable opportunity for planning and preparation, collaboration with colleagues and opportunities for growth and learning.

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