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.

Thursday, 01 November 2018 09:51

November 2018 Superintendency Message

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

This fall marks a rather momentous time in our district's history. Four of our schools (Wahlquist, Orion, North Ogden Elementary and Lakeview Elementary) now have the technology to provide personalized instruction and learning for every student! Some school districts refer to this as a "one-to-one" computer initiative in schools. Each student in these four schools was issued a chromebook computer of their own. Just a few short years ago, a personalized instruction and learning model through technology in our district seemed out of reach. In fact, we were encouraging students to bring their own device in order to increase access to technology. However, due to investments from the legislature, as well as increased funding from School Trust Lands and community councils willing to dedicate some of that funding toward technology, achieving our goal of utilizing technology to personalize instruction and learning in our schools has become attainable.

The excitement is not that every student has their own computer. Rather, it is the enriched teaching and learning that occurs with this infusion of technology. For example, at Orion Junior High, language arts teacher Ashley Marks described a virtual field trip that her students experienced touring a plantation home and the Creole lifestyle around New Orleans prior to reading Lois Duncan's Locked in Time. "It has completely transformed my classroom from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional learning space," Ashley explained. LeAnn Jensen's 8th grade U.S. History class was in the hall where she had set up QR codes for her students to scan. Each QR code would link to a website, document or brief video on a Revolutionary War topic. Students worked in teams and were highly engaged as they learned of the Battle at Breed's Hill, the siege of Boston, and significant events at Lexington and Concord. LeAnn said, "I love that my classes are so interactive now."

At North Ogden Elementary, 5th grade teacher Jake Burnett explained his initial concern was the potential for decreased interaction with students due to increased computer time. He has witnessed just the opposite. Using Nearpod, Jake and his students explored Delicate Arch, observing first-hand the erosion of these monuments. In my visit to Jake's class, students were working in teams using the online review tool Quizlit. Students were highly engaged in what otherwise could have been a routine activity. Amy Filiaga's 4th grade class was augmenting language arts with ReadWorks. Amy had seen some bullying behavior and was counteracting with an on-line auxiliary text called, "Cool to Be Kind."

Wahlquist Ed Tech Coach Matt Winters described outstanding applications of technology by teachers including a virtual archeology dig in Jackie Acosta's history class, as well as the design of slope ramps in Brent Bourgeous' math class using Spheros. I loved hearing Melissa Judkins tell me about how students in her FACS class used Google Sites to create podcasts, video commercials or websites applying their knowledge of child development theory and essential elements of school readiness.

Mrs. Oliva's 4th grade class at Lakeview Elementary enthusiastically shared how they are using Zearn Math to build procedural fluency and accuracy. Then, I met a young boy who had just moved into our country several weeks earlier as a non-English speaker. He was rapidly acquiring vocabulary and language skills using Imagine Learning on his chrome book. When I asked how he was enjoying school, a bright smile lit up his face!

This model of utilizing technology to provide personalized instruction and learning is happening right now in Weber School District. Four additional schools will come on board in January, with even more schools in the near future. The potential for technology to revolutionize teaching and learning is only limited by the boundaries we establish. I applaud innovative, courageous teachers who are willing to think creatively as they discover ways to enhance learning for students. It truly is an historic time!

Monday, 01 October 2018 12:52

October 2018 Superintendency Message

A message from Assistant Superintendent Lori Jo Rasmussen:

I love this time of year! We are fortunate to live in Utah with its four distinct seasons. Fall brings with it colorful landscapes, crisp weather, football, and of course the harvest season. I love all fall has to offer, but the harvest season is dear to my heart because it has given me valuable insights in my life.

My grandpa and grandma were master gardeners. They came by this naturally. With a lot of hard work and determination, they achieved great success! Friends, family, and neighbors all benefitted from my grandpa and grandma’s garden. It was a simple garden by today’s standards, just a plot of fertile ground with immaculate dirt rows, but the harvest was incredible. I would watch amazed at how a little seed could produce the amazing fruits and vegetables we would enjoy!

I came to understand that a whole garden isn’t created overnight, and neither is any lofty goal or change you want to achieve or make in your life. When a seed is cared for with sunlight and water it starts to grow and develop into the magnificent wonder it was meant to be. It is much the same with any new endeavor or journey. When one pays attention to their dreams and aspirations, to the “seeds” planted in their lives, a beautiful transformation can take place. Each seed is the start of something new, something bigger than one can imagine.

Parents and educators plant seeds of hope and beginnings each and every day in their children’s and student’s lives. They nurture and care for them daily. Many times, the true fruits of their labor and the beautiful transformation take some time. It can be years later, when a child has reached adulthood or when a student has graduated, that the transformation has truly taken place. What a wonderful harvest!

There is no better time than the present to work towards the life you dream of for yourself, your students, or your family! There is a quote that speaks to this; “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is today.” Time to grab a shovel and get to work!

We thank our parents, educators, and families for the fine work, true dedication, and unwavering commitment to help our students grow!

Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap, but by the seeds that you plant!
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, 31 August 2018 13:58

September 2018 Superintendency Message

School has officially begun in the Weber School District. It's always fun to see the students, staff and parents again as we start a new year. There's always a lot of enthusiasm and excitement on the faces of those who enter our buildings.

Every year a group of district administrators accompanies the Superintendent to all of our elementary schools where we have the opportunity to share a book and read with each grade. This is a fun time for the administrators to get into schools and interact with the children and school staff.  

Two thoughts always come to my mind each year as we do this:

  1. What great students and staff we have in our schools. The students seem to come better prepared every year. This is a direct result of parental support. It's also a positive experience to see how the teachers and staff interact with the students and how well-behaved the students are as they gather together for us to read to them. This is a reflection on the teachers and staff that work so well with these students to help them not only with their academics but also with their social and management skills.
  2. As we read with these students, it also reminds me of the importance of helping with and reading to our children. No matter what grade we read to, the children love learning about new people, places and experiences. Two quotes that I think about when I get to read to children are:
  • "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." – Frederick Douglass
  • "The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." – Dr. Seuss

Reading is a fundamental process to our childrens' educational success. Spending time reading with a child is very rewarding not only for the child but also to the reader. Here's to great and productive year. Thanks to everyone for your support.

 

Kevin Sederholm

Assistant Superintendent

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 09:46

August 2018 Superintendency Message

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

Champion for Children

We begin each school year by welcoming dozens of new teachers to our district and into this great profession. This year, for example, more than 100 new teachers will begin their career in the Weber School District. We welcome these outstanding young educators and recognize the enthusiasm and innovation that they bring with them. As a principal, I was always eager when we hired new teachers because I knew that their excitement was contagious among students and staff alike.

New teachers help us remember why we entered the profession in the first place. Several of our new teachers recently shared their thoughts with me as they prepare for their first year in the classroom. Matt Brown, who will teach biology at Roy High School, talked about a former high school teacher and coach who spent time, effort and even money helping him to be the best that he could be on and off the field. Matt said, "He taught me lessons that I took with me into life that still impact me now nearly ten years later. He exemplified what it meant to be a role model and a teacher. He is the reason I became a teacher. "Matt then expressed that it is his goal to have the same influence for good on students in his school. He stated, "I feel teaching and coaching is the one way to impact and truly change lives and the trajectory of lives in a meaningful way."

Katie Arave, who will teach 4th grade at Farr West Elementary School, talked about the many reasons that she selected teaching as her chosen profession. "But the core reason," Katie articulated beautifully, "really comes down to the fact that I want to be a champion for children." Katie told me that what she most anticipates as she enters her first year as a teacher is building strong relationships with her students. "I am excited to make the connections that will gain the students' trust and respect," Katie expressed, "which in turn will lead to deep and amazing learning opportunities."  

Kelsie Garrard has been hired to teach 3rd grade at Roosevelt Elementary. Kelsie reflected, "Looking back in my life, the people that had the biggest positive impact on me were my dearest teachers. They taught me major life skills like hard work, optimism, integrity and how to build and keep healthy friendships." Kelsie is determined "to be the role model that my teachers were to me and pay it forward."  

Matt, Katie and Kelsie remind each of us why we work in Weber School District! Regardless of our role or position, we have the opportunity to touch lives for good. This will be an exceptional year because Weber School District has devoted, caring adults who are persistent in their efforts to help children. On behalf of the Weber School District Board of Education, we wish each of you an exceptional and successful school year.

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