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!
A message from Assistant Superintendent Kevin Sederholm:
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:
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.
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!
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
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:
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.
A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:
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.
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!