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She has had a genuine love of dogs all her life. Now, that love is leading a Bingham High School student to follow her dreams to compete professionally in the sport of Dog Sledding, also known as Dog Mushing.

On this episode of the Supercast, we meet 17-year-old Mary Christensen and her dogs and find out what goes into getting the dogs to work as a team, racing to the top in competitive Dog Sledding.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello, and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. She's had a genuine love of dogs all her life. Now, that love is leading a Bingham High School student to follow her dreams to compete professionally in the sport of Dog Sledding, also known as Dog Mushing. On this episode of the Supercast, we meet 17 year old Mary Christensen and her dogs, and find out what goes into getting these dogs to work as a team, racing to the top in competitive Dog Sledding.
We're here with Mary Christensen in her backyard in South Jordan, Utah. And Mary's gonna tell us why we're in her backyard. Mary, you're a student at Bingham. What's your hobby that brings us here today?

Mary:
You know the thing that keeps me going is dog sledding. That's my thing. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Dog Sledding. Now in my mind driving over here, I'm thinking she's a musher. Is that a term? Is that a thing?

Mary:
That is the right term, yeah. The term comes from the word to go, ‘marche’, which is a French word that is traditionally used with mules. We don't really use that word anymore, but the term musher still applies.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you pronounce it a little more, you know, with a little more French flare than I did. Tell me again how you pronounce it.

Mary:
A musher.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, so you are a musher, let's go back to the start. We got the dogs in the background and I wanna meet them in a second, but tell me, how did you get started with this? How did this pop into your mind that this is what you wanted to do?

Mary:
Yeah, I mean, you know, it all started when I was six years old. I've always loved animals, but I watched this movie called Iron Will. It's an old Disney movie from when I was six. And I just became enchanted with this idea of being out in the snow with dogs. My mom, you know, didn't wanna crush my little girl dreams. And she was like, “oh, you know, that's such a cute idea. Let me learn all about it.” But you know, we live in Utah and we didn't really think that was an actual thing to do. But for my 12th birthday, excuse me, my parents found a kennel that did dog sledding up next to Park City. And they got me like a kennel tour and I went up there, fell in love with it. They kind of thought it might turn me off a little bit. You know, they're like, “okay, it's been six years. Maybe we can end this a little bit.” And I just, even more, I went to summer camp and now I can't be done with it. I just keep going.

Anthony Godfrey:
So they were thinking maybe we can scare her straight if she sees what it really involves and she'll move on.

Mary:

Yeah, exactly. Especially that summer camp. They're like, “oh yeah, a week with dogs, with strangers, no way she's gonna make it.” And I came back with like the biggest grin on my face. My dad's like “you are covered head to toe and mud, and I've never seen you so happy.”

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what it means to be a musher. Do you compete? Do you go to competitions? What does that look like? 

Mary:
So, I mean, there's just different levels of it. I kind of started out more of a recreational musher, which is just, I had two dogs. Well, I mean, obviously I had one first, just kept growing from there, and I just took 'em out like on a little scooter and I'd be like “woo dog sledding!”. And then as I got more dogs, became more advanced, I just became more of a competitive musher. So I still do a lot of recreational mushing, but now I do a lot more races. And then there's like the touring side of dog sledding, which I do sometimes. I go and help out at my kennel, but I don't know, tours are not the most appealing aspect of dog sledding. So I consider myself competitive.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's talk about all three aspects of that. You talked about recreational dog sledding. What does recreational dog sledding look like for you? Is that something you're able to do frequently and where do you go? And what's that like?
Mary:
So recreational is just like a really kind of like, not slowed down, but I mean, you just have a couple dogs. People use it with all sorts of dogs. I mean, they've got hounds out there. They've got Australian shepherds, they've got everything. There doesn't really need to be a set breed for recreational. And there's different parts of it where you can do like the cart aspect, the sled aspect, or even like a skiing aspect. There's all these different parts that can make up recreational mushing. But yeah, for me, when I do like recreational, it all kind of feeds into my training schedule. But that's kind of just when I wanna take a break and I don't really push the dogs super hard, just go for like a quick seven mile run. They just kind of go as fast as they want or as slow as they want. It's just kind of a training thing for them. We go up to some slow roads up in Park City, Peoa, Oakley, that kind of place.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it's good for the dogs, it sounds like too. To just kind of get a break and just go out and run for fun at whatever pace they want, rather than going through a particular training routine.

Mary:
Yeah, they’re definitely, definitely not as on point when we do a little fun run, but they love it. I mean, when they come back their spirits are just so much happier. I don't know. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, good. Now you told me about skiing behind them, sledding behind them and carting behind them. Tell me how all those three differ. I have a guess, but tell me what that means.

Mary:
Yeah, so I mean the traditional one, traditional dog sledding, and really like the only term for it is when you have a sled and then in the summer you use a cart. That's kind of a big old rickety thing. It's like a tricycle, but it's a little more bent up.

Anthony Godfrey:

So is it a tricycle with skis on it? 

Mary:
No it just has big wheels, rubber wheels. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So the sled is like a sled, it has skis under it. The cart has wheels and are you able to do that in the summer? Is that what you said?

Mary:
Yeah. So the cart you use during the summer and fall and spring. Usually you try to stay more in the summer because in spring and fall it gets muddy, you wanna use a four wheeler. Sleds are only available when it's snowing. So yeah, a cart's a good alternative when you don't have snow.

Anthony Godfrey:
And the skis does that mean you just slap on some skis and let them pull you along? Cross country skiing at its best?

Mary:
Yeah. I admire everyone who does, it's called skijoring, and I cannot do it. I tried it once and kept face planting. I mean, those dogs are just fast, you have no control. But some people just live for it and there's like really competitive skijoring. So skijoring is more put in like the mushing category where dog sledding is just like on the sledding.

Anthony Godfrey:
How far do you travel to compete?

Mary:
It just depends. There's like a Colorado circuit. That's really, really nice. There's like a professional world like sled dog organization, I guess, racing organization. So if you wanna start going professional, you get your professional points from the Colorado circuit or there's like the Indiana circuit, just that kind of places. But I usually go up to Colorado sometimes, but Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, and there's one in Utah. That's kind of just where I center.

Anthony Godfrey:
And so do you have a trailer that you load the dogs and the sleds into? Tell me how that works.

Mary:
Yeah, so I have my dog trailer. It's just like a huge wooden box on a big trailer, kind of like a flat trailer. And it's just screwed in and each has boxes in all of them, and then it's got like air holes and everything and they can touch each other through the top of it. They just go in there and it's really dark and really warm and they just love being in there. My sled just slides right on top and you just strap it on and you're good to go.

Anthony Godfrey:
You've got it down, it sounds like. 

Mary:
Yeah, a lot of taking off my sled for sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
So how many in a year would you say?

Mary:
I mean, it varies. I I don't race on Sunday, which is kind of hard because Saturday, Sundays are really easy because they're always two days, at least. So that's like a really easy weekend. So last year I did three. This year I'm only planning two. But yeah, it just varies. I mean, sometimes worlds are in question, sometimes Colorado circuit works out, sometimes it doesn't. So it really just depends. There's not an average I'd say. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Where does it go from here? Do you continue what you've been doing or is there another level you're aspiring to? What's next?

Mary:
I just wanna grow my kennel. I'm probably good with the dogs I have right now until I graduate high school. I mean, I spend hours out here with them every day. I don't know if I could throw another dog on top of that. I mean, I'm trying to get on the journey to World Championships, which is in Canada one year and New Jersey the next. And so that's kind of, my hope is to get up to there.

Anthony Godfrey:
Canada, New Jersey. That's where it alternates.

Mary:
Yeah. It switches off. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Interesting. Now you also talked about touring. Talk to me about that.

Mary:
Yeah. So touring is a lot of where dog sledding money comes from, just because, I mean, you look at it and you're like, wow. You know, dog sledding people aren't like bidding on that. There's not really like a huge market for that, but so touring is really where it comes from. There used to be a really, really, I mean, there still is a problem with ethical touring. But actually, just recently in Park City and like Summit County the kennel I work at got a bill passed that makes sure that everyone's at the same standard. So Utah is actually like just excelling with our standards right now. But yeah, so, I mean, that's just something that everyone really has to do. You can't be a musher really without touring. I mean, I can, because you know, my parents are awesome and they're like, oh yeah, we'll pay for your food. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So the touring is when you take other people on a ride?

Mary:
Right. So it's like my kennel up in Park City that we do it at. We have like our touring dogs and our racing dogs and our racing dogs are, they kinda look like these guys over here that are just super fit and thin. And then the touring dogs are more like Husky looking dogs and they're just, they're just troopers. They'll take you around on a three mile loop and they're really strong. A lot of people will really like it and it's a really good experience for a lot of people.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. That sounds fun. 

Stay with us. When we come back, Mary Christensen will introduce us to some of her sled dogs and tell us what it takes to take care of the pack.

Break:
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Anthony Godfrey:
In the background we've heard a number of dogs, Blue in particular, who has been pining for some attention. I think. You talked about the hours that you spend with dogs every day. Tell me about what it involves just day to day care and training of the dog. 

Mary:
I'd say, if I was just to go the most basic I can, I've got my dogs down well enough that I can do a complete dog job in like 30 minutes. But usually I spend an hour, hour and a half out here at least. You clean up all the poop, that's the main job. I'm a professional poop scooper. You clean out bowls, you give them more water, you exercise 'em, fill up straw, give them food, just let them play. Sometimes I have to get between their arguments and just help them figure it out. There's really never a boring day with the dogs.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a lot of responsibility because they rely on you every day for all of that. And that's a long list.

Mary:
Yeah. I mean, that's why my parents were really smart in doing this by not just throwing me into the mix. I started with one dog and it was my little puppy and they're like, okay, if you can do this then we'll move up a little bit. So I started with my one dog and once they saw that I was just really in it and I just really wanted to have him grow, I got my second dog and then my third dog and fourth and fifth, and just grew from there. So it doesn't really seem like a responsibility to me anymore. It just seems like, kind of like a privilege to have this.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's exciting. Well, and Blue is really upset that I'm not interviewing him right now. 

Mary:
Oh, he's a diva, that's for sure. He thinks he's all that.

Anthony Godfrey:
I could see that. So let's have you introduce us to the dogs. Maybe I'll have you go in with the dogs and kind of introduce them to us right here by the fence.

Mary:
Yeah. We’ve got three of the dogs out here and then two are put away right now. So I've got my Siberian Husky right here, his name’s Blue. He's the power of the team, but he gets distracted like none other. All the dogs just play into each other and you have to really balance their personalities. And then this one right here is Shelby. She's my newest one. I got her this summer, more like early spring I guess. She's a little older but she kind of has helped teach some of my younger dogs what dog sledding is. She's a Seppala Siberian Sleddog and she's the queen bee. I mean, she just sits on her house and all the dogs respect her. And then this one, who is loud when I'm around, this is Sage. She's really, really tiny and she has the tiniest little voice, I think. But yeah, she's a Seppala Siberian Sleddog too. And she is just a little wiry thing and she’s just, she's crazy. I don't know how to describe her. They all just have the most like intricate personalities that is really kind of a hard balance, trying to figure out where they all fit. Then she has a brother, Tuck, who is put away right now because he didn't really feel like coming out. But yeah, it's just, it's kind of like a puzzle piece. That's each one you have to fit together and find where they like to be, who they like to be hanging out with, what they like to do, what they don't like to do and that kind of stuff.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about where you get these dogs. Are they all pups? It sounds like Blue, you got as an adult. So tell me about how they came into your life.

Mary:
Yeah. Okay. So my first dog I got her when she's a little puppy. I bought her off KSL. That's where all the good dogs come from, I'm convinced. But I bought her from a family that she was too excited for, and I was like, I want an excited dog. I want a dog that's ready to go. And so that's where I got her. And then my next dog, Molly, was abandoned at my kennel and I just clicked with her and I just said, let me take her home. And that was that. She’s just been with me forever. And then Blue, he's had kind of the hardest story of all. When he was a puppy he was really severely malnourished and abused. A neighbor actually came and took him to the pound, which he was then adopted by a really nice family that just couldn't really care for him the way that he needed. So I was like, “oh, sweet’. And it actually was just crazy, the story of getting him because I was planning on getting a completely different dog. Then that night I just felt like that dog wasn't right. And I just texted this random number out of the blue that said he was gone, he was sold. And I was like, I don't know, like this dog just really feels right and I went and met him and he was crazy and it just felt right. But he's the one that I'm probably most proud of because he's come super far. Then Tuck and Sage, I actually bought from a really good friend of mine named Allan Berge in Wyoming and he raises Seppalas, he races 'em. I met him at a race and he usually sells each of his puppies for $600 and he sold both of them to me for $500. So I was really happy about that, because he just likes helping people who are kind of up and coming. Then Shelby, she was another dog that was surrendered at my kennel. And I was like, you know what? I've always wanted a more white dog and she's more white than the other ones. And so I took her home and she's just the best fit.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's great to hear you talk about your dogs with such passion and love and obviously a deep connection to every single one of them. How long have you been away from them since you got 'em?

Mary:
It's really hard for me to be away from 'em like when we go on trips and stuff. I usually try to bring up to my kennel, but I sometimes have a lot of siblings that I have watch 'em. I'm sure they hate watching 'em cause I'm like, ‘you have to do this and this and this’ and it's in this exact order and I call 'em four times a day. ‘Have you done 'em yet? Have you done them yet? Do they look happy?’ You know? And I have them FaceTime and send pictures cause I just like really worry. My family when we’re on the trip, they're like, ‘no Mary. It's okay. Like they're just dogs.’ But it's hard for me to get away. And I don't really let anyone else go in or even take care of 'em cuz even if I'm like on my deathbed, I'm like, ‘no, you don't understand. I have to feed them.’ 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's a lot for you to balance. You're a junior at Bingham right now. Is that right? That's a lot of work to be a high school junior and take care of these dogs and to keep this hobby up. But obviously it's a passion for you. So when you talk to people about this, do people at school know about this first of all? And how do they react when they find out that you're a musher? 

Mary:
There's a lot of different reactions. At school I don't really ever hear my name. I just hear Mar-dog. That's kind of my nickname. It's on my SBO jacket. I mean it's got everything. Everyone just calls me Mar-dog. So usually that's kind of a dead giveaway. But when I tell people who really don't have any idea it's either usually like, ‘oh, I don't believe you, like that's a lie’ or they just wanna see pictures. And I'm like, oh, don't worry, I have millions.

Anthony Godfrey:
They wanna see the receipts.

Mary:
Yeah, exactly. People are like, no you don't, I actually do. But yeah. I try to bring it up kind of naturally, because it's a little overwhelming when I'm like, guess what guys, I can talk about this for three hours. Let me tell you about each one of my dogs.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I am a dog person. We have three dogs at my house right now, but nothing like you do. Nothing like the work that you put in and I admire it. Now Mar-dog. Thank you for letting us talk with you. And boy, it's great to meet you and the dogs and I'm just so impressed with your level of dedication and the passion that you bring. These dogs are lucky to be in your life.

Mary:
Thank you. That means a lot to me. 

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. Well, take care and best of luck this year.

Mary:
Yeah. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

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It is a challenge facing many parents these days. How to keep kids safe on social media. On this episode of the Supercast, we have a candid conversation with one school psychologist who is working hard to educate parents and others about protecting kids and building trust when it comes to the safe and smart use of social media.


“Internet Safety for Our Children” Class
Thursday, Jan. 13, 7 – 8:30 p.m. | Rivers Edge School, 319 West 11000 South, South Jordan
Call to Register 801-565-7442


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello, and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It is a challenge facing many families these days, how to keep kids safe on social media. On this episode of the Supercast, we have a candid conversation with one school psychologist who's working hard to educate families and others about protecting kids and building trust when it comes to the safe and smart use of social media.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Dustin Fullmer, school psychologist at Copper Hills High School, and also an instructor at the Jordan Family Ed Center, where Thursday, January 13th, from 7:00-8:30 PM, he's offering an internet safety class, a class that he offers every quarter. Dustin, thanks for talking with us.

Dustin Fullmer:
Thanks for having me here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Dustin, tell us, everyone's talking about social media right now. I think some really difficult things have been happening as a result of social media and it's increased stress across the board. No matter what your age. Tell me what you are talking about right now with social media. What are some of the things for us to be watching for and for parents and others to think about?

Dustin Fullmer:
Yeah, definitely. So social media is one of those things that's been a double edged sword in our society. Where it's great for connectivity. It's great for being able to keep in touch with people you love and hold dear to yourself and maybe don't see every day. But then yes, it's also leading to a lot of issues that we see constantly. Including things that we've seen this year, even in the schools with those different TikTok challenges of ransacking the school. Here at Copper Hills, where I'm a school psychologist, we even had a bathroom closed for almost two months, just because we had those issues with those challenges. And so I do in my class talk specifically about those types of things. By watching out for those different challenges, making sure that the things that your kids are accessing are positive and uplifting and not bringing them down or challenging them to do dangerous or just criminal kind of things. As well as just making sure that they understand the complexities of the internet because as we have more accessibility to it all, I think kids are losing touch a little bit with just what it is that is happening on there.

For example, some of the topics I cover in this class; I cover things such as you're not as anonymous as you think you are online. It's really easy to know exactly who it is that's posting things. Even if your username is something vague, it has nothing to do with your name. It's very easy to know who you are. That the internet also has the best memory out there. That things that are deleted and don't really stay deleted, that's stored somewhere out there. And so it's just good for kids to know these types of things and for parents to know that as well, to teach their kids about it. So that way maybe we make better decisions down the road.

Anthony Godfrey:
I have a 12 year old and I do try to have some controls in place, but I also worry that there are some things that I'm not doing that maybe I should be doing. What are some things that you advise parents to watch for when they want to be involved with social media and their child's interaction with others through social media?

Dustin Fullmer:
So the number one thing I try to promote with parents and their kids when it comes to internet access, social media is open communication. If we start the whole process of I'm gonna let you have X, Y, or Z account on this type of social media platform, then we need to have an understanding from the very get go that, you know, I'm allowed access to it. I need to be able to see what you're seeing, see what you're posting, see what you're involved with. Just to make sure that we're keeping those kinds of tabs. Allowing that little bit of trust to begin with and having that open communication of I'm going to let you have this, but you also need to know that there are things that I expect from you. Because when it comes to internet blockers and safety protocols and parental controls, kids are smart. And no matter how much you think you have things locked down, if a kid wants to be involved in something, they'll probably find a way around all those blockers. And so it's more about establishing expectations early, as far as what you expect from them and what they can expect from you if they don't follow up with that.

Anthony Godfrey:
So in other words, it's not necessarily enough to just rely on being able to block kids from accessing social media entirely, which is the case with my 12 year old. He gets some interaction in very limited ways, but like you're saying, it's difficult to really lock everything down entirely. And so talking about how to engage productively or appropriately is an important component to creating an approach.

Dustin Fullmer:
Yeah, definitely. And going back to the whole idea of the parental controls, like there are great resources in place. The people that made all the technology that we use today, they understand the risks of using those things, as well as just the kinds of negative side effects that can come if we use it too much. And so they put in all these great controls. iPhones, for example, just Apple products in general, they've put into place that screen time setting, which can limit time specifically on different apps on your phone. It can also limit from certain time periods. Like let's say that you have a problem with a kid staying on their phone all night, not getting enough sleep. You can say in that screen time, you can set settings to where, you know, it can completely shut down their phone except for emergency phone calls throughout the night. But all in place can still cause problems if kids just are intent on getting access to things, unless you have established more of an open communication and open expectation kind of environment with them, like you said.

Anthony Godfrey:
One screen time feature that I'm very aware of is when I get a notice every week, about how much I've been spending on my phone as well. It can be a little surprising just how much time it takes up. What are some of the things that you would say to students about positive ways to engage in social media?

Dustin Fullmer:
And there are lots of ways. A couple years ago before where I started this class, I kind of got the inspiration from the push that was labeled #savethekids. I'm forgetting his name right now. I can look it up in a minute, but it was basically this whole movement of using social media for positivity. Where he was giving challenges to the students to, you know, post something real about your life. Because a lot of the time, you know, I have students come into my office all the time that they feel like they're not having as good of a life or not living up to the same kind of expectations or great adventures that their peers are doing because that's all they see on social media. Anyone that posts, they're typically gonna post all the fun stuff, they're not gonna post the things that went wrong over the weekend. They're gonna post the pictures of delicious food. They're gonna leave out the dishes that are piled up in the sink. They're gonna post the picture of them on the beach, but not mention how they also got stung by a jellyfish. So it is just kind of helping them be real. And if it can even just start with that one student saying, you know what, I had a hard day today, but I'm pushing through it and posting something like that on whatever social media platform they prefer. And just starting to be real and be supportive of others as well. And so it starts with one person and then it catches on. One good deed always motivates another one. And it's just about as long as you can be that person to start the domino effect of positivity in your little sphere of the social media world, then get it started.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back more about keeping kids safe on social media.

Break:
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Anthony Godfrey:
How do you advise students to deal with negativity and destructive things that they might find on social media?

Dustin Fullmer:

So that's kind of a two part thing. I would encourage students that if they are finding that kind of stuff to number one, try to report it on the social media platform that they're seeing it on. But sometimes that stuff may not be able to be resolved on the platform itself, just depending on whether or not those that control it, see the things that are being posted as destructive or negative. But something else that when I'm encouraging the open conversation between student and parent is I also encourage a judgment free zone with that kind of stuff. Because there's all sorts of things, whether it be negative stuff on social media or other harmful things that we can find just on the internet, whether it be pornography or just really negative blogs, different anonymous types of chat rooms, anything like that, can definitely be rather negative and deterring to different people. And when it comes down to when that stuff happens, it needs to be a judgment free conversation. When we find out or when we approach somebody about that kind of stuff and they react with, “oh, that's so horrible. I can't believe you did that.”, we learn that we don't want to talk to that person again about it. And so it is from both directions where we want to be open with people around us. Like I am seeing this. And then if we're the ones receiving that someone come approaching us saying, ‘Hey, I'm seeing this not so great stuff’, then we need to approach it with “Okay. How did it happen? How can I help you? How can I help you find more positive things? Or what do we need to do to avoid the negative? Or what do we need to do to make sure that doesn't happen again?” And that judgment free kind of response will elicit more open conversation from both sides.

Anthony Godfrey:
What advice do you give when students encounter cyber bullying?

Dustin Fullmer:
So that is a hard one. That's something that kids these days have to face that we didn't have to face back when we were in school. Because you know, to sound all a little bit older than the kids these days, I get to say, you know, back in my day, if bullying was happening to me, then I got to go home and it stayed at school. But some of these kids have to endure not only it happening potentially in the school, but when they go home, it follows them. Depending on what social media platforms they're on and who they're connected with. We do see those cases here in the high school. What I urge kids to do is if they, especially if they know that it's another student at the school they attend, then bring it to the school's attention. Bring it to the administration, bring it to our student resource officer, depending on the severity, because we have ways of finding out like, you know, what's being posted, who's posting it and we can resolve it in house. And if it's someone that's not necessarily in the school, then still, if it's severe enough, then you know, try to take those preventative measures of blocking those people that you're receiving that negativity from. But also make sure to let people know. Don't just try to handle it on your own. You know, you can definitely feel like sometimes you might be burning others or you might feel like others might think it's not that big of a deal if you bring their attention to the cyber bullying you're experiencing. But it's important to let others know, that way it can be resolved and or avoided.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let's talk about some of the positive things that can happen as a result of social media. You mentioned, save the children, the hashtag focused on posting. What are some other positive things about social media that can be emphasized perhaps if students are engaging on social media.

Dustin Fullmer:
So there are plenty of different pages that you can follow, whether it be TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, et cetera, whatever it is that you feel that you like. There are lots of positive pages, accounts, et cetera, that you can follow for daily motivation, for daily meditation, for just daily mental health tips. You just have to look for it. So that there's plenty of things out there that can just help boost yourself if you wanna have those things be a positive light in your day. And then also you can be that for other people too. You can post different things that are real to who you are and make sure that people see you for who you are. And also just maybe if you see somebody post a picture, give 'em a compliment. If you see somebody like posting something about how they did something, like it, post a comment saying good job, and move on. The thing that we seem to think a lot these days is that everyone wants to hear our opinion. And that's where a lot of the negative things come from social media. If we can turn that around and just share positive comments, positive opinions, that's where we can start spreading a little bit more of the positivity and just good that we all have.

Anthony Godfrey:
And that is an opportunity that sometimes is overlooked that we can actively look for ways to reinforce folks, and you mentioned it earlier as well. We can reinforce each other and, and provide positive comments. I read something once where the suggestion was, don't just give a thumbs up, challenge yourself to always comment if you interact with a post. And what I found is that with the people that I do care about that I'm connected to on social media, my level of interaction was deeper and more satisfying because I was actually posting positivity instead of just doing the quick thumbs up.

Dustin Fullmer:
Yeah, and it's important too, because one of the things that's happened, especially these last few years is that, you know, we've been a lot more isolated where we're not necessarily seeing people in person as much as we would like to. And so it seems like really convenient that we have all the social media to stay connected. But like you said, if all our connection is, is giving that occasional thumbs up, heart, whatever it may be, then how much are we actually connecting with people? If we take that extra step to really reach out to them with words, then we can do a lot more connecting.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the questions that you commonly hear asked in your internet safety class?

Dustin Fullmer:
Mostly just what can I do to help my kid that's already struggling improve with their internet usage. A lot of the time I get a lot of feedback from parents saying that kids are on their different technological devices, internet, social media, way too much. And it's distracting them from school work or real work, or just interacting with people around them. Honestly, my response is kind of similar to what I've said a lot of already, of just having those real conversations with them about, you know, what is happening there. And even if it helps, you know, letting them know like the psychological and physical effects that can happen, if that's all you're doing is being on devices, because there are some real effects. Studies have shown that if we're too addicted, to throw that word in, to technology, social media, our devices, then we can start seeing real signs of depression, high anxiety, and also physical symptoms like obesity and lethargic mood and having a lack of energy as well. So it's about helping them realize what kind of effects it can have on them as well as just kind of having the conversation of what is too much and what is expected of them just to kind of exist in their life. And what it is that they need to be doing to be successful and continue moving forward.

Anthony Godfrey:
You mentioned earlier the social media challenges that are particularly destructive and dangerous. What advice do you give around those trends?

Dustin Fullmer:
A reminder that a moment of clout on a social media platform is not worth a permanent record. When it comes to especially some of the more destructive challenges that were happening towards the beginning of the school year, if those were to rear their ugly heads again, what a lot of people don't realize is that depending on what it is exactly that you're doing to public property or whatever, you may end up having a criminal record. And that's true for a lot of different things that can happen on social media. A lot of people, whether they be kids or older, feel this real sense of anonymity behind the screen, where they can get away with these different things. But when it comes down to it, it's rather easy to know exactly who you are and what you did. And it's not worth that moment of clout on a social media platform for that permanent record that can really affect your future.

Anthony Godfrey:
So maybe a good rule of thumb is to think, would I do this in person? And if not, let's not do it online.

Dustin Fullmer:
Yeah, definitely because a lot of us know that person, or maybe some of us know that person, that is a real delight in person when we talk to them and we're face to face, they're just a real pleasant, just human being to be around. But maybe then we see some comments that they post on social media and we're like, wow, that is a lot of anger, or that's a lot of strong opinions that this individual has. And you just wonder, you know, what's the disconnect there. And that's something to remember, like you said, if you're in person, would you do this, the exact same thing, if you were actually face to face with this person, would you say these things.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much for your time. Tell everyone again when the class is offered and how they can get signed up for it.

Dustin Fullmer:
Definitely. So the next class is this Thursday, January 13th, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. It is at the Jordan Family Education Center. You can sign up just by giving them a phone call and saying that you'd like to go to the Timely Topics for Internet Safety. And we'll definitely have some space for you there to have a more open discussion about maybe what you need help with as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
We'll have that phone number in the show notes so folks can call that and get signed up if they'd like to, for Thursday, January 13th. There'll also be another offering later in the year. Thank you very, very much for everything you're doing to help support students and families, and for taking time with us today. Dustin.

Dustin Fullmer:
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to do it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

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It is an alternative school where you will find some incredibly talented teachers and students. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside Valley High School where a different approach to learning is changing lives and leading to student success in ways some never imagined.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It's an alternative high school where you will find some incredibly talented teachers and students doing amazing things. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside Valley High School, where a different approach to learning is changing lives and leading students to success in ways some never imagined.

We are here with two students from Valley High School to hear directly from them what it's like to be here, but first let's let them introduce themselves.

Axinia:
I'm Axinia, I'm the student body representative.

Kylee:
I'm Kylee. I'm also on the school leadership team.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. I know you also go by Z. So I'm gonna go with that. Z, let's start out with just talking about why you've chosen to be at Valley.

Axinia:
So I chose to be at Valley because at my boundary school, when I moved states, because I lived in Arizona and then I moved to Utah, they didn't transfer all of my transcripts, so I was missing credits. But previously to that, I had had major back surgery and I had an infection that was like killing me because it got into my spine and my hardware. So from that I had like 72 absences, just that. And then I was missing more credits on top of that. I decided to go to Valley the next year, just so I could get caught up with my grades and stuff like that. And I also know Valley was a really good school because my sister had previously come here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Kylee, tell me why you've chosen to be at Valley.

Kylee:
Similar to Z, I had a lot of like health issues and things like that. And at my boundary school, they were not very accommodating. They didn't really like, excuse the absences. I tried to work with the teachers and the teachers wouldn't really work with me as well. So I actually got a couple different people that recommended that I go to Valley. So I decided why not give it a shot? And so I came and I love it here. I was really scared at first, because Valley has like a lot of bad stereotypes, but I found like none of those to be true.

Anthony Godfrey:
You talked about some of the stereotypes about Valley High School. I'm sure that you've both heard those. What are some of the misconceptions about Valley?

Axinia:
That like it's only a school for like delinquent or drug addicts or like drug dealers. And it's like, there's those at every school, not just Valley. Valley is just a school where they still don't put up with it, but they just want you to get your work done so you can graduate. They want you to graduate. They're not gonna tell you no, or put you down or anything. They're gonna let you know that that's probably not the best choice, but they're gonna continue to push you to do good.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the expectations remain high, but there's an approach that helps you overcome maybe the things that you're dealing with. 

Axinia:
Like they also make it seem like it's all the students and it's not. A lot of the students here don't even associate with that. 

Kylee:
I think the major thing that I got before coming to Valley is like, that's the school for the bad kids. What's wrong with you? Why are you going to Valley? Kind of thing. So that kind of freaked me out a little bit that I was gonna be put in that stereotype. But after being at Valley, I found that like, none of the kids are bad kids. Like everyone here is really genuine. 

Anthony Godfrey:
How do you feel students treat each other here at Valley? You've described that a little bit, but tell me about that. Does that feel different maybe than what you've experienced elsewhere?

Axinia:
Like you still get students that argue with each other and they still have problems with each other, but they're willing to work past those to get things done in school. But also like even outside of class, like they'll even work on it to try to become closer. At Valley there's no one who's really gonna argue with people or hate on people. You can go really talk to anybody and be their friend pretty much.

Kylee:
One thing, at my boundary school, there was a person who, we were having a class discussion, they told me to shut up and the teacher did nothing about it. I haven't had that happen to me here, but I know that if someone were to talk bad about me or something like that in class, I feel like the teacher would stand up for me and be like, you can't say that. That's not okay. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about what classes are like at Valley. How are they different maybe from classes that you've experienced throughout your time in school? 

Axinia:
Classes are different here because they're smaller and you get a lot more one on one time with the teachers. I feel like the teachers are a lot more patient with you, but also like if you need more time to do your work, the teachers will be willing to work with you and give you that extra time. 

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you Kylee? 

Kylee:
I like that the class length is shorter. Because for someone like me who has like anxiety and ADHD, when you sit in the same spot, in the same classroom, just with nothing really to do except for busy work, you get really anxious. And it like, kind of builds in your stomach. Whereas in Valley it's like, even if I'm having a hard day and I don't wanna go to school, I'm like, it's just a couple hours. Like, it's not like I'm gonna be there all day.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say to students who are considering Valley, but aren't sure?

Axinia:
I would want them to know that Valley, even though it has that bad stigma towards it, that Valley is a really great school. They're very welcoming and it can be overwhelming at first. But at the end of the day you're gonna realize that you're welcome and that this is like a family and not just a school. 

Kylee:
I've actually had a couple friends that I've recommended come to Valley, that I know struggle with similar things like me. And some of them have. I love Valley so much. So anyone who would be considering coming to Valley, I would say just do it. If it's not the right fit, then you can try something else. Valley has been life changing for so many people. Like it really was such a big deal for me. I went from being a student that had failed pretty much every class to a student with all A's, and doing things like speaking on a podcast and things like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
There's a level of rigor in the classes. They expect a lot of you and I maybe that's a misperception sometimes too. They expect a lot out of you. I don't think you can hide Valley, speak to that for me.

Axinia:
Like the teachers obviously want you to do your work. They expect it from you just because Valley is like your second chance a lot of the times, not every time. But you know, like they just want you to do good. Valley wants the best for you. The teachers want what's best for you. They want you to get on track to be able to graduate or even possibly graduate early. But at the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. So they're not gonna force a student to do their work if they're really not that interested. 

Kylee:
Things that I've heard in class sometimes. If a student's not participating in class a lot of the time it's “if you don't wanna be here, then don't be, cause there's a lot of people who need the opportunity to come to Valley. And so if you don't wanna be here, then you should give your spot to someone who does.”

Anthony Godfrey:
I think that makes sense and what you said earlier is ‘try it and if it works for you, great, if it doesn't, then you can try something else.’ But that's why it's an alternative high school. It's an alternative, it's a choice. It's something that you can try and I worry that some students may not feel successful or not feel connected to their school experience and wonder whether there's any way they ever could be. And Valley is a place where they just might be.

Kylee:
It definitely, for me has been. 

Axinia:
Valley understands that like life can get in the way. Like last year for me during fourth quarter, my mom passed away and I came in and talked to the counselors and stuff like that. They told me that they would freeze my grades so that I could take time to do what I needed to do. They're very understanding and very compassionate for students. All students need to do to get that is to be very communicative with the teachers and the staff here so that they know what's going on. Students don't need to be scared to go talk to them because it's not like they're gonna go tell everyone your business. 

Kylee:
That being said, I think that it goes like to a deeper level. You have a deeper connection with the teachers and the admin here. You feel like you can actually talk to them and be open with them and communicate with them, which is a big thing about Valley. The students have a lot of responsibility. It's not just have your parents call in sick. You need to do it yourself and get your things done. I feel like it prepares me for the real world more.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are your plans after Valley? What's next?

Kylee:
So I'm graduating at the end of third quarter. After I graduate, I'll be going to culinary school, Job Corps. I am really excited. After about a year of that, I'll go to advanced culinary school, be able to cater on cruise ships and do things like that in California.

Anthony Godfrey:
I hope that I can be on a cruise sometime in the future where your food is served. I have no doubt you'll be doing it. It's just whether I get to cruise or not. How about you Z?

Axinia:
My plans after school. Well, I'm supposed to graduate second quarter, but I'm gonna stay and finish the whole year because why not? But I also, after this, I'm gonna go to SLCC for two years and I'm gonna get my associates for geology and then I'm gonna transfer to university and try to get my masters. And then after that I wanna go back and get my associates and my masters for physics so that I can be a geophysicist.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sounds fantastic. I love to hear your plans and I love that Valley is a launch to your being able to achieve those.

Kylee:
I never thought I would graduate at my boundary school. And that is something that makes me feel so successful because it's completely turned my life around. Now I'm graduating early and I didn't think I'd graduate in the first place. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic. 

Axinia:
Valley has definitely given us hope. Like last year I had been like uprooted from my house twice. So I was basically wondering where I was gonna live. And then the second time, you know, after that, my mom had passed away shortly. So last year I just had little to no hope, but Valley, Valley is definitely one thing that kept me going, because it's like, if I can just get there to graduate, I can continue on and do something else after school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, you both have bright futures ahead and I congratulate you on all the progress that you've made. Make the most of Valley while you're here. Enjoy it. And best of luck in your future endeavors.

Kylee:
Thank you. 

Axinia:
Thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back Valley High's principal joins us to explain why a different approach to learning is making such a big difference in so many lives.

Break:
Do you simply love learning online? We can't wait to have you join the amazing teachers in our brand new Jordan Virtual Learning Academy. In Jordan Virtual Learning Academy schools, we offer innovative, fun, and flexible online learning with daily real-time instruction from teachers. Enrollment is currently open for all K-12 students in Utah. Start on the path to personalized virtual learning success now at connect.jordandistrict.org. That's connect.jordandistrict.org.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here at Valley High School with Principal Jacinto Peterson to talk about Valley.

Principal Peterson:
Thank you for coming, for being here. Valley's the greatest place on planet earth.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is the greatest place on planet earth. And I'll tell you, I'm just gonna start with how proud I am of the work that happens here. We ran into the governor's education advisor and I got the chance to talk to her while she was here, just about what a great school Valley is. I'm just so impressed over the years with all of the great things that are done for kids and the attitude about helping kids, no matter what their circumstances are.

Principal Peterson:
Honestly, all these kids are untapped jewels, so we just want to keep 'em on the right line. Since 1975, this place has been sending out productive citizens in society. So we want to keep on that same journey. I stand on the shoulders of giants each and every day of all the folks, Clyde, Sharon, and Todd, and all the rest of the folks who've made great contributions here in this building.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let me ask you a question related to that. You've been principal for how long now?

Principal Peterson:
Two years, which has been all of the pandemic. So since pandemic I've been in place.

Anthony Godfrey:
As you think about that, that's the same for me. Just about my whole time as superintendent has been changed by the pandemic and impacted by it. As you became principal, you acknowledge you're standing on the shoulders of giants. What was your vision for Valley moving forward?

Principal Peterson:
The most important thing for me is to help everyone become happy in life. Ultimately that's my mission. That is my aspiration, helping everyone become happy. That's a very awkward statement, but it is linked to education. It is linked to fulfilling their own personal goals and aspirations. So happiness, teamwork, collaboration, and all those things combined to get you towards that finish line. So you can be a pilot and not a co-pilot.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about Valley. There are lots of people who may not understand it. Give me the overview. I know that because I've worked with Valley for decades. What is the purpose of Valley and what sets Valley apart from other schools?

Principal Peterson:
First of all, always recognize that Valley is an alternative high school and what that means to lots of people may be different. The reason why we call this alternative is because we are gonna try some tactics and some strategies that a traditional boundary school may not employ. So with that, we have teachers that are willing to be flexible. We have a staff, the folks in the front office are willing to be flexible and come up with the resources and strategies to best help kids. So our whole philosophy is helping kids reach their full potential.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are a couple things that are unique about Valley that I'd like you to describe. I know that the Friday experiences to help students earn credit, that's always intrigued me. Tell me, tell us more about that.

Principal Peterson:
That was put into place to extend kids' understanding of their own community. We get to go to a lot of activities. Tracy Aviary, Timpanogos Caves, and to realize that there are a lot of great resources right in their neighborhoods that are educational in purpose. So as part of remediation, those Friday activities occur on a given Friday. There is a topic of discussion, but is aligned with going somewhere, getting out of the school and making the world your educational classroom.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, speaking of the Friday experience, that's possible because Valley has a Monday through Thursday schedule. Talk about the schedule, the four day schedule and the times that students can choose to attend. For me, that's just another level of flexibility that helps students fit school into their lives no matter what's going on.

Principal Peterson:
Our schedule currently looks like a Monday through Thursday schedule. It is between the hours of 9:00-1:30, session one, and then 2:30-6:30, session two. Those wonderful schedules are put into place because we are an alternative school. Many of our students also have jobs. So that gives them the opportunity to attend work, learn some life and social skills, come to school, grab their academics as well as learn some life and social skills. So we are flexible on that. We have that middle section, we call that power hour. That's the time for remediation. Time to check in with your teachers, time to make up missing topics or missing actual days. So if your attendance is bad, that's an opportunity for you to come in and get that one-on-one attention with a teacher.

Anthony Godfrey:
And for those who are thinking as they listen to this, they might want to work at Valley. It's a Monday through Thursday schedule helping kids who are ready to connect to adults and get some help in their lives. 

Principal Peterson:
Yes, indeed. It's a misnomer to think that our kids are not going to college. We have 10% of our kids or more that are college ready. The rest of our kids will be going to trade schools and also making great contributions. Salt Lake Community College is one of our great partnerships. We probably interact with them about probably 40 times in a given year. We have all the trades schools that come through thanks to Cathrin Wischmann. We have career days, which is, one in the fall, one in the spring. So we have a lot of positive programming that takes place here at Valley.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're also equipped to take care of a wide variety of student needs. Washing machine, dryer, staff that may be helping in ways that other schools aren't able to. Tell me about some of the additional help and support that's given to students based on their life circumstances. 

Principal Peterson:
Well, our job is to try to eliminate boundaries for kids. So one of the places that we have is our daycare center for any teen parents that may have a child and wants to further their education. We have a daycare center, which we charge students about $50 per quarter, and their child can remain in that daycare center all day long. They will get fed. They will be taken care of by the finest daycare providers on planet earth. In addition to that, for anyone that might be running to some fun financial stress, we have a washing machine and a dryer. We also have a homeless liaison that steps in. We have teachers who are willing to spend their own money to buy packets for kids. Our main office staff has been known to buy things for kids. And so our hopes and goal as a collective endeavor is to just help kids be successful in life. Sometimes that remains just for us having a regular conversation with them about these are some circumstances that we had to endure as a young person. So just passing on the wisdom, being the guru of such when we're just having a conversation with kids.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what it feels like to work at Valley for you.

Principal Peterson:
For me, for a young man who grew up in a single wide trailer, this is my population of kids. These are the kids that have always been brilliant. They've had some setbacks in life. And so ultimately our goal as a staff is to remind them that they have grit and they are resilient. These are the finest young people I've had the opportunity to work with. They have this thing called ‘I don't quit’ in them. So for me, even when the cards are stacked against them, they still grind it out.

Anthony Godfrey:
If someone is listening and thinking, maybe this is a match for someone that I know. My child or a friend's child, or a niece or a nephew. Describe for me, and this is gonna be hard because this is the right place for such a wide range of people. Describe the students at Valley. Who is the Valley student and who's the student that Valley is geared for.

Principal Peterson:
I would say any kid that has had some setbacks. A kid who needs to regenerate who they are, some kids who may need a couple wins under their belt. If you're asking that question, it's probably your neighbor. It's probably your own personal kid. Kids who are really smart, can't live in that huge school environment where there's 3000 kids. They have anxiety, they need a smaller learning environment. Kids who had brushes with drugs and alcohol, who for some reason have continued to battle through those things. Kids who really just have lost some hope and our job is to restore hope and that we are going to hold them accountable for things in life and ask of them to reach their full potential. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're very fortunate to have you here Jacinto. I know how much you care about every employee and particularly every student here and you are the person to be carrying the torch. So thank you for all you do to help these students.

Principal Peterson:
And thank you kindly Dr. Godfrey as well as all the supporters of Valley High. If you ever want to find out what is being cooked at Valley High, please come by and we'll let you look in the pot. Take care.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

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Are you looking for a new career in the New Year? We may have exactly what you’re looking for. On this episode of the Supercast, we explore the job opportunities available right now in Jordan School District for those looking for full or part-time employment.

They are jobs that offer competitive pay and benefits working with some of the best people around.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello, and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Are you looking for a new career in the new year? We may have exactly what you're searching for. On this episode of the Supercast, we explore the job opportunities available right now in Jordan School District for those looking for full or part-time employment. They are jobs that offer competitive pay and benefits working with some of the best people around.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Brent Burge, Human Resources Administrator and Amanda Bollinger, Assistant Director of Special Education to talk about job opportunities for the new year. We have many of them, and there really are some jobs that folks may not be thinking about that are opportunities. Part-Time, full-time, benefited, non benefited positions, and we have a lot of openings and a lot of great opportunities to become a part of Jordan School District. So let's start with Mr. Burge. Can you tell us some of the different job families that we have in the district focusing on our education support professionals. Now that's the term nationally, ESP or education support professional. And really, we can't do that essential work in the classroom without them. There are lots of job families that encompass this group. So tell us, a few of those and some of the opportunities there.

Brent Burge:
Absolutely. We have a great group of people, a lot of different openings. We can start with our transportation group, whether it's bus attendants, or bus drivers. We have our custodial group, which keeps the buildings clean. We have our administrative assistant group full-time and part-time. We have our facilities group, which takes care of all of the buildings and a whole host of others.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's start with transportation. There are bus attendants, bus drivers, and we need bus drivers more than almost any other position.

Brent Burge:
That's one of our biggest needs. Yes, you're correct. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about what it looks like for someone who thinks, “Hey, maybe I'd like to be a bus driver.” What's the process like, what is the training like and what types of routes and responsibilities may be assigned to them?

Brent Burge:
Absolutely. So our transportation group, in order to be a bus driver, you have to have a CDL with a passenger and bus endorsement. Luckily our district provides that training so that employees can come in, get the training needed and start driving immediately.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you don't need a CDL, you don't need experience. You can get that commercial driver license with training, right from the district and get started.

Brent Burge:
Correct. We will provide all the training needed.

Anthony Godfrey:
And there are full-time and part-time positions available, correct?

Brent Burge:
Correct. We're currently looking for full-time and part-time, we have a lot of substitute positions. As you know, bus drivers may call in sick. We need people to cover those routes as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
We did another Supercast months ago with bus drivers. And what's exciting is that you can interact with kids every day. You're the first person that they see as they head to school. When you get to see kids before and after their school day, you really get to build a relationship there.

Brent Burge:
You do. You have a great experience and you've gotta get those kids to school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Amanda, there are a lot of special education buses that we run in the district and those involve having assistants on the bus. Tell us about that role and about the special role that bus drivers for our special schools and for our special education students may be involved in.

Amanda Bollinger:
Yes, I'd love to. So we do have bus attendants that help with some of our special education students going to our special schools and some of our regular schools. Really they help provide extra support for those students to make sure their needs are being met, that they're secure and safe on the bus. So that bus drivers can then safely drive students to the schools. So they're really important. And we do provide additional training for those para educator support on the bus as well. So they do get training and they don't have to have any experience being on a bus. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Perfect. Now we talked about transportation. Let's talk about custodial, keeping the building running, keeping it clean, overseeing a staff of people who help with that as well. Tell us about some of the openings available there. 

Brent Burge:
So we have both full-time and part-time. As you know, most of the buildings need to be cleaned after the students leave. And so the majority of the positions are afternoon shifts. We do have part-time and full-time, we do have some full-time positions during the day as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
What time of day do those jobs usually start? The afternoon jobs. It'll depend on high school, middle, elementary, but what's the range?

Brent Burge:
Each School is different as far as their needs. Most of the part-time start probably around two or three o'clock in the afternoon. And then finish up about 10 or 10 30.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you know, if anyone's going to school, going into education, thinking about being a teacher or doing anything else in the district, or really any job in the state. When you're working full-time after hours as a custodian, you can be going to school and you can be earning years of service so that retirement comes a little faster or it's a little sweeter when it does come, because you've earned those years toward the final calculation of your retirement benefit. I know a few people who've done that and whatever job you take, if you do that, while you're in school, you just get a little bit of a jump on everyone else. build

Brent Burge:
Build up that seniority.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back more information on the jobs in Jordan School District.

Break:
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Anthony Godfrey:
Now the category of, or job family rather, is the classroom assistant. We have a lot of openings for classroom assistants in special education. So Amanda, tell us about some of those opportunities.

Amanda Bollinger:
Yes we do. Right now, we currently have about 40 positions open at various schools from our special schools, elementary, middle and high school. And there's opportunities in Resource classrooms where those paraeducators may work one on one or in small groups with students with disabilities. They may also push into classrooms with those students. And then our special classes are going to vary depending on the level from elementary, middle, and high school. But a lot of those paraeducators that are working in those classrooms are vital to providing services for our students. They get to really make a difference for those students in making progress in their education. 

Anybody that's interested in being a paraprofessional in a classroom, doesn't have to have specific training. They just have to have a high school diploma, and we actually do provide training on what that's like to be in the classroom on basic behavior training, basic instruction.

The nice thing about those positions are that if anyone's interested in becoming a teacher, it's a great way to start to get more experience in a classroom, get more experience in a school. That's actually how I started my career, is as a paraeducator. That's when I really fell in love with special ed. One of the great things too, our state actually has a scholarship program called the Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship program. So for anybody that's working at least 10 hours as a paraeducator and they have less than 60 credit hours in college, they have the opportunity to get up to $5,000 towards their tuition paid every year they can apply for that scholarship. So it's a great opportunity for anybody that's interested in becoming a teacher or just trying to figure out if that's something that they're interested in doing, to be a teacher.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great option, and it's a great sampler. You get in as an assistant and then you know what that classroom environment is like, and you get to observe the teacher, develop those relationships with students. And like you said, you get to see the results of working one on one with students and helping them make progress while earning money toward advancing your own education and being able to be a teacher. I know a number of teachers who've gone through that path and it's really exciting. 

We have a lot of flexible positions and Nutrition Services offers some positions that are shorter just in the middle of the day. So if you only have time in the middle of the day and you want to work six to 10 hours, there are options for that.

Brent Burge:
Absolutely. We have Nutrition Cafeteria Assistants. Those are mainly employees who collect money or work with children, not necessarily preparing food. A lot of positions are available for two hours a day.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there are a variety of positions. Now we also have openings where you can work full-time in Nutrition Services. 

Brent Burge:
Correct. We have a lot of positions, probably 10 or so right now. Six hour positions, those are benefited. You'll earn retirement and those kinds of things as you're working six hours a day.

Anthony Godfrey:
So really whatever level of commitment you're interested in, we have something available. 

Brent Burge:
Absolutely. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now I'm gonna throw something out there right now. We have substitute positions available, always. And there's a high degree of flexibility that comes with being a substitute. You can also work as, like I said, as much or as little as you want. I think on any given day, there's going to be an opportunity for any substitute who wants to work. You can choose the level, you can choose the school, you can choose how frequently you work. We've been offering some bonuses that have made national news, actually. If you work a certain number of days and we're actually going to extend that into January, you heard it here first, but that's gonna be available each month for the remainder of the school year, at least. So that anyone who meets a certain threshold, works a certain number of days during the month will receive that bonus. It's just so important for us to provide continuity for students and substitutes allow for teachers to get that time away that they need because of illness, or just needing to take some time off for family or for whatever reason. So it helps everybody and they’re a really vital part of our operation. So anyone interested in that just, you know, you need a little bit of extra money here and there. That's a great way to have control over when you come and when you work. Anything else you'd add about the special education opportunities in the district?

Amanda Bollinger:
Yeah, I would just say, you know, it really makes such a difference for our students to have the support that they need to be successful in the classroom. Working in special education is so rewarding to see the growth of these students and you get it to build those relationships, like you mentioned. More so than maybe some of the other positions, and really get to see students hit their goals and become more independent and to just really make a difference. Not just in a student's lives, but just in our community as well. 

Anthony Godfrey:
What I've experienced is when people jump in and they try it, they may not know what to expect, but they get addicted pretty fast to those relationships and the ability to make a difference in someone's life.

Amanda Bollinger:
Yeah, and then when those kids are so excited to see you on a daily basis, it is very rewarding to wake up and go to work every day.

Anthony Godfrey:
No question. Mr. Burge, anything else about just the jobs in Jordan District in general?

Brent Burge:
If you have ever been interested, give us a try. Try it out. We'd love to have you. This is a great place to work. It's a great family environment.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell us where everyone would go to find out about job opportunities and where they can get started.

Brent Burge:
Okay, you can go to our district website at www.jordandistrict.org, and there's an employment link, or you can go to our HR page, which is employment.jordandistrict.org. There are links in there that can take you and you can apply for the different types of jobs you're interested in. Job descriptions are available as well as the salaries.

Anthony Godfrey:
If anyone would just prefer a phone call, just to call and say, “Hey, I'm looking at something somewhere in this area, and what types of things do you have available?” Where would they call?

Brent Burge:
Call (801) 567-8150 and we'll be glad to assist you with whatever questions you might have.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Thank you very much for your time. Hopefully we get to add lots of new members to the Jordan District family. 

Amanda Bollinger:
Yeah, we hope so. We hope to see you next year. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's right. 

Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

Share the Supercast!

It is music that will warm your heart and make you smile. On this episode of the Supercast, we share sweet sounds of the season performed by Jordan School District students.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a safe, prosperous New Year!


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Their music will
warm your heart and make you smile. On this episode of the Supercast we share sweet sounds of the
season performed by some very talented Jordan School District students. First let's hear from the
Bingham High Madrigals.

Bingham High Madrigals singing:
Deck the Halls

Anthony Godfrey:
And now a performance from the students at Majestic Elementary Arts Academy.

Majestic Elementary Arts Academy students singing:
Jingle Bells

Anthony Godfrey:
And now performances by the Copper Mountain Orchestra.

Orchestra playing:
Carol of the Bells
Feliz Navidad

Anthony Godfrey:
Now let's enjoy the sounds of the Mountain Ridge Madrigals.

Mountain Ridge Madrigals singing:
Somewhere in My Memory

Merry Christmas!

Anthony Godfrey:
Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a safe, prosperous new year. Thanks for joining us on the Supercast.
Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

Share the Supercast!