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It is one of the highest and most prestigious honors given each year recognizing school districts who are transforming education through the use of cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence in the classroom. Competing against school districts from all corners of the world, Jordan School District was a top 2024 winner in the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Awards.

On this episode of the Supercast, we talk to members of the Digital Learning team helping Jordan be a changemaker, shaping the future of education with the proactive and innovative use of technology.


Audio Transcription

Transcription coming soon.

It’s called the Mustang Battalion at Herriman High School and it is the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps or JROTC program in Jordan School District.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet students involved in the program and find out how it is teaching them valuable leadership skills which will last a lifetime. Also, find out what the JROTC program IS and what it IS NOT, as they celebrate their first full year at Herriman High.

Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It's called the Mustang Battalion at Herriman High School, and it is the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, program in Jordan School District. 

On this episode of the Supercast, meet some of the students involved in the program, and hear how it is teaching them valuable leadership skills that will last a lifetime. Listen and find out what the JROTC program is and what it is not, as they celebrate their first full year at Herriman High.

[Music]

We're here with Sergeant Wilson at Herriman High School. You've completed one year of teaching JROTC here at Herriman High. How does it feel to be at the end of year one?

Sergeant Wilson:
It's exciting that we've made it this far. You know, it's been up and down. A lot of work getting into starting the program. We're excited for what's going to happen next year as the cadets grow and we get more cadets. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about your experience first of all and what led you here to help start this JROTC at Herriman High. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Well, this is my 11th year that I've taught Junior ROTC and going through the program and teaching and seeing the changes that it instills in students, no matter what they're doing, and the fact that they just come up and say thank you, I made it because of this class. I have a lot of passion for this program. When the principal had talked to me about starting the program here, I wanted to make sure that it started off strong because it's such a good program. If I could put an ROTC program in every high school, I would put one in every high school. 

Anthony Godfrey:
When we first met about probably a year ago to talk about the possibility of bringing the program here, you told me about some of the things students can learn from this program. There may be the impression that this is only preparation for people who are then going to enlist in the military, but there are a lot of important life lessons and qualities that students can learn as part of a JROTC program. 

Sergeant Wilson:
When I talk to parents, a lot of parents look at it and they simplify it as it's a life skills class. As we look at the different things that youth, young people that are getting ready to go out into the world need, a lot of it is just they need confidence. Confidence in themselves, the understanding of how things work, the fact that they can make change, they can make changes in their communities. And so we give them through trial and error and step by step, not only the ability to do that and the understanding of how it works, but the confidence to do that. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, giving them a sense of efficacy. I talk about that a lot, that when you work hard, when you learn things that you didn't know before and you put them in action, you can change the world and you can make an impact on the people around you. For those who are unfamiliar with an ROTC program, what type of experiences can a student expect to have in a class over the course of the first year as a cadet? 

Sergeant Wilson:
As a cadet, the first year they're going to learn a lot about themselves. Who are they? Because if you don't know who you are, it's hard for you to be an effective leader and lead others. As a leader, you need to know and understand the subordinates, the ones that work for you and you can't do that effectively if you don't know who you are.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the activities that they would expect to be involved in?

Sergeant Wilson:
Oh, that's a long list. We learn a little bit about discipline because we have uniforms and stuff that they wear and a lot of it is attention to detail. What the uniform is supposed to look like so that when you go out and present the colors at a ceremony or something, you look nice, dressed, and professional. So we learn about that. We learn a lot about Teen CERT disaster medical, what to do in a disaster. This is a lot of hands-on. We learn a little bit about physical fitness. We learn how to plan a schedule. What does my schedule look like? We look at time wasters. We look at how to better organize and you basically plan your year. That's one of the fun things about ROTC is it's a program that's run by students. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you have cadets that come from across Jordan School District and from outside of Jordan School District as well. Tell me about this first batch of students that you've been working with here. 

Sergeant Wilson:
It's an amazing group. We have a senior that is graduating out of Bingham High School this year. I have a senior out of Copper Hills and I have a senior here out of Herriman High School that are some of my main key students when they came in. They just started taking responsibilities for stuff which is one of the fun things about the program. I have two students that have come from the Granite District to come over and be part of this program and looking at next year I have students that are coming from just about every school here in the Jordan District, every high school. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're going to take the listeners inside the activation ceremony. Explain what the activation ceremony is all about. This was your first to be involved in right? 

Sergeant Wilson:
This was our first. So each year we have an end-of-year ceremony that kind of is a culmination of everything that they've learned in that year. This year being an activation ceremony the cadets have learned the basics of being in the program and what it's going to take. They met those requirements to do that presentation and they actually received their flag and so they were presented with the flag saying we are an official ROTC program and you've met the requirements. So next year what's going to happen is we're going to have a change of command ceremony. And every year after this it'll be a change of command where the outgoing commander will pass on the flag to the incoming commander. 

Ceremony MC:
Ladies and gentlemen the Executive Officer of Salt Lake City Recruiting Battalion and Regional Representative for Training and Doctrine Command, Major Lucas. 

Major Lucas:
Yeah, I just want to take a few moments here. I'll make it short because I know how hard it is to hold those rifles and flags for a long period of time. I've been in there with generals are speaking but yeah JROTC I'm excited to be here. JROTC is a great program. It really teaches leadership and patriotism in our youth. It’s so desperately needed.

Ceremony MC:
Ladies and gentlemen please rise and pay the proper respect as the colors pass through the gym. 

Ladies and gentlemen approaching the PA stand is Cadet Captian Diekmann, the Commander of the Herriman Mustang Battalion. The Colorguard led by Cadet Sergeant Jacob, comprised of cadets from Copper Hills, Herriman, and Bingham High Schools.

Ladies and gentlemen, Cadets of the Mustang Battalion.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about the patriotic element of being in a JROTC program. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Well, we just had the end of school they finished up their service learning project which they set up for the community to come out and see and have little lessons on flag etiquette. We went through all the parts of flag etiquette, displaying the flag, how to show respect to the flag, and even retiring flags and what meets the criteria of needing to be retired as a flag. They like to go out and be part of parades. Veterans Day parades, Memorial ceremonies. They also got to participate in a memorial dedication of a monument in Draper for Gold Star families and so they really get to get out and be part of these different patriotic groups. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. So it's a connection to the community and a connection to their country. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much for coming to Herriman High School and making this possible. Your bringing your experience has really helped propel this program forward very rapidly and I know it's going to continue to grow. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us when we come back more with the JROTC program at Herriman High School.

Break:
Does your student want to become a veterinarian, commercial pilot, programmer? Maybe they want to make a difference as a dental assistant. These are just some of the programs offered as part of Career and Technical Education, CTE in Jordan School District. CTE provides the technical skills needed to prepare students for future employment or for a successful transition to post-secondary education. Career and Technical Education provides work-based learning opportunities. We partner with industry experts to offer apprenticeships and internships with students working in the real world at real jobs while going to school. The CTE experience starts in our elementary schools with the Kids' Marketplace and grows through middle and high school. To explore all CTE has to offer in Jordan School District visit cte.jordandistrict.org today and let's get your child started on the pathway to a profession.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right we're now talking with the commander of Herriman High School's JROTC program. Please introduce yourself. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Hi, I'm Miriam Dieckmann, the commander in charge of everything.

Anthony Godfrey:
In charge of everything. Tell me what everything entails. Tell me some of the things you've been able to do as commander here. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Well, I get to oversee the teams. So like we split up who's in charge of what team and who kind of makes sure things are running smoothly, but we kind of do that together. Then we make sure events are going well. So like we had two big projects, one that Sergeant Wilson mentioned, the service learning project where we retired a bunch of flags. And then we had a different project where we uploaded and made marching videos so our cadets could have reference material to practice. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the other cadets in the class. What is it like being a part of a class like this and forming these friendships? 

Miriam Diekmann:
So a lot of it you have to put in a lot of hard work, but the friendships and family you make is very rewarding. So some people won't do their jobs and other people will have to fill in but it's kind of worth it sometimes because at the end of the day, you're all friends and so you kind of like forgive each other.

Anthony Godfrey:
It was fun to be part of the activation ceremony with you. You walked me through it in advance, helped me rehearse and we got to unveil the flag. Tell me about that. Are you excited about how it turned out? 

Miriam Diekmann:
No one had seen the flag except Sergeant Wilson so I got to be part of unveiling that. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the activation ceremony. How did that feel for you? 

Miriam Diekmann:
I was kind of really nervous because I was like “Well, I'm already kind of like a commander but now we're having a ceremony to like make it official”. And so I felt kind of weird because it was like a lot of spotlights on me. But it was fun. And like the flag, like seeing it for the first time, I was like “Oh my goodness, like we finally have our flag like showing that we're a battalion”. It was really exciting to see it and we were all very impatient for the past week knowing that it was sitting in the classroom and then not being able to see it. We were very impatient. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're saying Sergeant Wilson can keep a secret? 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That doesn't surprise me. The flag’s here in the corner of the classroom. It looks fantastic. It's a great design and it's something to be proud of to be here on the ground floor. What's next for you? What do you want to do from here? What has this class inspired you to do beyond high school? 

Miriam Diekmann:
So I'm contemplating joining the National Guard and from there, I don't know what I want to do. Part of me wants to go to medical school but I don't know so we'll see. I feel a copycat to my best friend who's doing the same thing but I don't know.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there's a lot of options that seem possible after being in JROTC. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So if someone is listening, what would you tell them if they're thinking maybe I should try? This it's a lot of work. I'd have to go to another school maybe for part of the day what would your advice be to them?

Miriam Diekmann:
Do it. My advice would be to do it. Because at the end of the day if you don't like it then you don't like it and you don't have to do it, but you're never going to know unless you try so you might as well do it. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And it sounds like from your experience and from what Sergeant Wilson described there are a lot of things that you'll learn and a lot of experiences you'll have that you don't expect. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now are you a senior or junior? 

Miriam Diekmann:
I'm a sophomore. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You're a sophomore. Well, Commander you do not seem like a sophomore and you've got plenty of time to figure out what comes after high school but you're taking more JROTC next year I'm guessing. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yes for the next two. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Awesome. Well, that's great . Thank you very much for talking with us and good luck with everything going forward.

Miriam Diekmann:
Thank you. We're now talking with First Sergeant Morris. Introduce yourself, please.

First Sergeant Morris:
Yeah, I'm Cadet First Sergeant Morris. This is my second year with JROTC and I'm the senior ranking NCL here. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So you attended Taylorsville last year I assume and then you've been here for the second year. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Yeah, so I go to school at Hunter High School and then I attended JROTC at Taylorsville last year and then I transferred here to Herriman this year. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You're following Sergeant Wilson here.

First Sergeant Morris:
Yes, I am. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I don't blame you for that one bit so we're glad to have you here at Herriman. Tell me about your experience in JROTC these last two years. 

First Sergeant Morris:
It's been lots of fun. I've learned a lot here about leadership, and a lot of life skills, and just bonding and being able to make friends and to have like another family. 

Anthony Godfrey:
It sounds like you've learned to rely on other people. How does it feel to really feel a part of this and feel connected to these folks? 

First Sergeant Morris:
It feels great because I know that I always have people to back me up and people that I can rely on to help me with what needs to get done. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about some of the disaster preparedness or other skills that you've learned. Do you feel better prepared if things go wrong?

First Sergeant Morris:
We spent an entire quarter learning about disaster preparedness. It's called Teen CERT so it's Community Emergency Response Team. So if there's any event where first responders are overwhelmed your CERT people will go and assist them. So in a large disaster such as an earthquake here in Utah, CERT. members would go out and do search and rescue and they will help treat the wounded and set up areas for people to recover. Without people doing CERT we wouldn't be able to effectively recover from a disaster.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sounds like there are some essential skills involved. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, you're obviously learning some great lessons here and doing a great job. Congratulations on the work you've done to this point and good luck going forward. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with Corporal Londelius. You graduated this year. Tell me about your experience in JROTC.

Corporal Londelius:
I don't know. I really loved the program and it really gave me the opportunity to like tap into the leadership skills that I didn't know I had. I really enjoyed this program because it kind of forced me out of that safety bubble I've created over the years. And it's forced me to be able to communicate with people and reach out to my cadets to make sure they're up to date with the information we have. It's allowed me to become more confident in myself in a sense. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. That will serve you well throughout your life. 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
It sounds like you have learned a sense of responsibility or deepened sense of responsibility. Corporal Londelius:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about how that feels. You talked about making sure that things are going well for others around you.

Corporal Londelius:
Yeah. So since I was a squad leader for a little bit, I was in charge of a group of cadets and I had to make sure their grades were in check, not just mine. So I had to reach out and make sure they're doing the assignments that need to be done. It kind of forced me to not really focus on myself but my team and see how we progress as a team rather than how good I'm doing. Because now I kind of look at everything like, okay, how is this going to affect someone else though? How is this going to help them and myself at the same time? 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a tremendous skill, a great perspective to have. What are your plans now post-graduation? 

Corporal Londelius:
So I'm planning in a few months to serve an LDS mission and then once I come back from that, I will be enlisting into the Marines.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you know where you're going yet?

Corporal Londelius:
I do not. I have not turned in any papers yet but I am getting close. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And then when you return, you want to enlist in the Marines.

Corporal Londelius:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Is that something you had thought about doing before joining JROTC? 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes, I've been planning to join at least the military for a while now and I just recently found out that Herriman finally has had a JROTC program. So I was like, “Okay, I'll sign up for that” and it's kind of sad because it's my first and last year that I was able to do JROTC but it's like bittersweet. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm sorry we didn't get it here earlier for you but I'm glad we got you on the tail end of your time in high school. So did this deepen your desire to be part of the military going forward? 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes, having been in color guard and being the color guard commander when we went to do like our first color guard, I kind of got a little emotional because seeing how the people were reacting to us presenting the flags and all that, it just kind of set me more in stone that, “Okay, I do want to serve my country. This is something I want to do in the long run.”

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I think you have great things ahead that's really exciting. What do you want to try to do in the Marines? Is there a particular focus for you? 

Corporal Londelius:
I am focusing on going into the aviation field of the Marines but I'm not sure how that will go with my eyesight and all but as long as I'm able to serve in the Marines and serve my country on time with pretty much anything I get put into. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. Well, best of luck with everything going forward.

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

[Music]

Some say he is one of the coolest teachers on campus and his lessons push students to achieve their highest potential in the gym and in life.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to Ridge View Elementary School to find out why Physical Education teacher Taylor Wright seems to have "the right stuff" when it comes to getting students excited, engaged, and going out of their comfort zones to do their very best.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Some say he is one of the coolest teachers on campus and his lessons push students to achieve their highest potential in the gym and in life.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to Ridge View Elementary School to find out why physical education teacher Taylor Wright seems to really have “the right stuff” when it comes to getting students excited, engaged, and out of their comfort zones to do their very best.

[Music]

Taylor Wright:
Alright now do big waves, big waves, big waves, big waves. It's a workout, it's a workout. Stop, just look, look. Alright, we're going to go up when I say “up”. Okay, I'm going to say put the hands up and we're going to go up.

Anthony Godfrey:
We are on the back field of Ridgeview Elementary School with Taylor Wright, physical education teacher extraordinaire. Thanks for spending time with us today.

Taylor Wright:
Thank you sir, thank you. It's an honor to be here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the activity that we just witnessed. That was a total blast just to watch those first graders having so much fun with you out here.

Taylor Wright:
Yes, sir, the parachute, we've been doing it all day and I've done it with most of the young kids. Sometimes things get off the rotation schedule and so forth, but the kids love this and the game that we play at the end that the kids love as well. It's awesome, it teaches them to work together and it also teaches them to– it's a good workout, it's actually a good workout.

Anthony Godfrey:
What I thought was really cool about it is they're having so much fun they forget that they are actually exercising. I need to figure out how to do that for myself to forget that I'm exercising. You made it so much fun for them, so engaging and interactive, they're talking with each other, they're having a great time and they're getting a break from being in the classroom which I think prepares them to be even more effective as they're learning at their desk.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir, yes sir. As you know there's a lot of studies that show that a certain amount of movement every day is good for your brain. This one is stuff that hopefully they'll never forget. Like you said, when you walked in you knew that you remember the parachute.

Anthony Godfrey:
I remember the parachute.

Taylor Wright:
I remember the parachute, and I try to do stuff that they'll remember. And that this would be hard to do with your family, but I always try to do stuff that if I was a student in my class I would enjoy and I would look back fondly upon and actually could do with my own family. So that's what I try to think about.

Anthony Godfrey:
I have to say that you have taken the parachute experience to the next level. I think all we did is we lifted the parachute, climbed under it and then tucked it under and sat down on it.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
But you had this game where they're running around trading places and it's a rainbow parachute, very large.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Listeners can probably picture their handles on the outside so each student has a handle and they're by a color.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
So then you call out blue and everybody lifts the parachute and the blues run around and trade places.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
And then they get their spot and they race around the outside sometimes like a duck, duck, goose almost.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
And it's so engaging and they're just having a great time every second. You seem to be having a great time every second as well.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir. This is– and I've told you this. I don't like missing school. I never miss because I love the kids. I mean it's such an awesome atmosphere here. Ms. Doleac, everybody. I needed help filling some balls with air earlier, which I was using all day, and our maintenance guy Scott went out of his way to help me. It's just such a– it's just– I can't explain and I've told you this. I get emotional talking about it. It's just such an unbelievable place to work and it's very person-centered, very student-centered and it's real you know and it makes my life. I mean honestly, Ms. Meredith our principal will tell you like I get sad when we have long times off. You know I really enjoy being here.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that and it's obvious in the way that you interact with the students and I've talked with you over the years. You've come up to me and talked about how much you love what you do and it's really exciting to see it firsthand for the first time.

Taylor Wright:
I feel like every day I have to up my game. If I had we had fun last time I don't want it to be lower so I want to keep it going.

Anthony Godfrey:
You do have a lot, you have about 30 feedback machines right over there that will tell you whether it's working or not immediately.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir. Immediately.

Antony Godfrey:
Well, it certainly is working today. And every video I've seen, every time I've interacted, it's obvious to me how much you care about the kids and providing them with an unforgettable experience. Now you have not always taught elementary you taught secondary before.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about that experience compared with this one.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir. So I started my career as a high school teacher. I got into football coaching. I coached at several colleges and then I got back into teaching in middle school and things. And then you know, this is the best. This is the best job I've ever had. I worked off the field at the University of Wyoming. I worked at Central Missouri. I taught high school like you said for three years and I had wonderful relationships. I still have students or players I coached reach out to me years later. I started teaching back in 2009. So all those things I love I'm thankful for that. But this is the best teaching job I've ever had. To teach elementary school kids is the absolute mecca of this for me. I mean I get to– Ms. Meredith will tell you I go in there at lunch every day and talk to– I literally just enjoy interacting with them. You know, making jokes, messing with them, just having that feedback. All these kids know me really well.

The relationships you can build with students at any level are great and they're different. Secondary kids are more able to understand things and that nature but here you can if someone’s sad and I talk to him, it can help their day. I mean yeah, and I do try to teach them that. I tell you what, our school is so great. I mean I was teaching a class earlier and I remember it was a kindergarten class and so we were doing an activity and I was like “okay guys it's going to be difficult.” It was this parachute activity. I was like “I wonder if you can do it?” And someone yelled out “I can do hard things” or “we can do hard things” and I love that.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that.

Taylor Wright:
So I try to you know teach them that. Like the process of doing something is to just be the best version of yourself and then do it that way and not even worry about like you know if we win or lose. We just focus in the moment and do our best. And I'm telling you like it's been the greatest job I've ever had.

Taylor Wright:
Well, you are a huge positive impact on these students and you have the advantage of getting to know every student every school.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
And this is a huge school.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're well over a thousand students–

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
–for those who are listening here at Ridge View. And we are splitting the school next year to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade going to another building and we'll still have K-3 here and you'll be here at Ridge View continuing these great activities.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir. I'll be here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, what do you hope that students take away from their time in PE classes with you?

Taylor Wright:
You know the thing I try to hope is that they take– there's a saying Maya Angelou and other people say it “No one remembers what you said or did that they remember how you made them feel.” So I hope they remember someone who had a positive attitude. Who always came ready to be a beacon of good energy. I think the kids know because I'm always playing like every game I have, I'm participating with the kids. I mean that sounds crazy but literally, I'll either referee or I'll play part of the game and I hope that they just know that like you know this is how you live. You live by just enjoying yourself and also just participating. Being an active participant in what you're doing. Just put all your energy in what you're doing at that given moment. Nothing else matters. You're living in the present and that's where the juice of life is I think. And I hope that the kids know that and I think a lot of them kind of a little bit do.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. Absolutely. You are tapping into that feeling in elementary students where they're making the most of the moment and putting their whole selves into what they do.

I had to step away for a phone call for a second.

Taylor Wright:
Yes sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Important decision. Talking with a couple of people. We came to the decision and I walked right back to the joy. I wanted to get off that phone call as fast as I could to get it back to that group of kids interacting with you and having a great time.

Now you have a lot of space here. You've also got a big hill. Have you been able to use the hill to your advantage?

Taylor Wright:
You know what? So the recess usually stays on this here. We do play a game on this hill right here. So this is what we'll play a game where I'll tell a story. The kids, little kids love things like that even more than this. A lot of times they'll like stories and things that you make up. Yeah. And so we play a game called a bull a burst. I'll tell a story and it usually involves them and it will usually involve somehow that they're a name. Which is what they really care about. And as I'm telling it, it'll be like, okay, I took Miss Hatch’s first-grade class outside. We were outside. We heard something. We heard a boom. And I looked to my left. I looked to my right and it was a bullet burst. And then the kids have to run up the hill, touch the fence, yell, whoo, and then come back and sit down. And of course, you don't want to be the last one to get down. So we actually do play the hill here and the kids love it. And games like that, the kids will request that a lot. So yes, sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
I can only imagine how fast they are running and how hard they are trying not to be the last one to run and sit down.

Taylor Wright:
Yes. One, two, three. Up. All right. Down, down, down, down. Sit on it. Sit on it. You got to sit on it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back more with Taylor Wright and his students.

Break:
Are you looking for a job right now? Looking to work in a fun and supportive environment with great pay and a rewarding career? Jordan School District is hiring. We're currently filling full and part-time positions. You can work and make a difference in young lives and education as a classroom assistant or a substitute teacher. Apply to work in one of our school cafeterias where our lunch staff serves up big smiles with great food every day. We're also looking to hire custodians and bus drivers. In Jordan School District we like to say people come for the job and enjoy the adventure. Apply today at employment.jordandistrict.org

Anthony Godfrey:
My level of exercise is generally walking from the car to a conference room but I believe that you are getting quite a bit of exercise just as a part of your day. Tell me about how you feel at the end of the day.

Taylor Hatch:
Everyone knows me and you know I work with folks with special needs when I'm not teaching. So a lot of times I'll leave and go there and I'm telling you I always feel like I had a HIIT exercise high intensity because I do this all day. And this is actually light. But I love it. It helps me and the kids. Like I said, if you're willing to play with the kids and actually get out there and do that, it amps everything up. The kids really enjoy that. And I love that. I wouldn't want to. What you do, your organization, your ability to lead, the tone that you set is world-class. I like getting out here and doing this kind of stuff. You know, you have a much bigger-picture perspective. And if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here. And your vision and leadership is unparalleled.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with some of the first-grade students in Coach Wright's class. Tell me your name and tell me what you love most about Coach Wright's class.

Motlee:
My name is Motlee and what I like about most of Coach Wright's class is that he makes up fun games.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's one of the best games that you play in his class?

Motlee:
Every one. Everything

Anthony Godfrey:
All of them were fun?

Motlee:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. How about you?

Giselle:
My name's Giselle and I love Shark Attack.

Anthony Godfrey:
Shark Attack. How does Shark Attack work?

Giselle:
Well, you have to have a stick and you have to tag somebody and then they have to sit down and whoever gets a ball, then they have to stand up.

Anthony Godfrey:
That sounds fun. How about you?

Aaron:
My name's Aaron and I love trying to jump the rope.

Anthony Godfrey:
Jump the rope? How does that work?

Aaron:
You have to jump like a rope.

Anthony Godfrey:
You hold it in each hand and flip it around and you jump when it hits the ground? How many times can you do it in a row?

Aaron:
Twenty.

Anthony Godfrey:
Twenty? That's pretty awesome.

Penelope:
My name's Penelope and my favorite thing to play with Coach Wright is bullet burst.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what's bullet burst? Is that the one with the story?

Penelope:
Yeah, with the story and when he says bullet first we go up there and see who’s the first one to get down the hill.

Anthony Godfrey:
What is it like having Coach Wright for a teacher? What's he like?

Penelope:
Great.

Anthony Godfrey:
Giselle, what's Coach Wright like?

Giselle:
He is mostly fun and nice.

Anthony Godfrey:
Aaron, what's Coach Wright like?

Aaron:
He's fun. He's really nice and he's the best teacher.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the stories that he uses in class.

Aaron:
Like when we're playing the game bullet burst, he says sometimes he uses our names. He like tells a little funny jokes and when he says, when he's at the end he just yells bullet burst.

Anthony Godfrey:
And then you run as fast as you can.

Aaron:
Yeah, and me see who can get down the fastest.

Anthony Godfrey:
You guys think you can outrun him?

Students:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, you can, huh?

Students:
Mm-hmm.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, you guys are pretty fast.

Students:
I've done it before.

Me too.

I did a Fun Run with our teacher. I did the most laps in the whole class.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, how many laps was that?

Student:
Ten.

Anthony Godfrey:
You did ten laps?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
The most of your class, huh?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you beat Coach Wright?

Student:
He didn't do it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, he didn't do that one?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Student:
He didn't do the Fun Run.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for talking with me guys.

Students:
Yeah.

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

[Music]

They used their considerable talents to create a virtual reality game which is now receiving some amazing accolades.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet the Digital Media students at JATC North who designed a three-dimensional virtual reality game that’s garnering a lot of attention. Find out how their game transports people into a different world using the illusion of being there.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They used their considerable talents to create a virtual reality game, which is now receiving some amazing accolades.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet the Digital Media students at JATC North who designed a three-dimensional virtual reality game that's garnering a lot of attention. Find out how their game transports people into a different world using the illusion of being there.

[Music]

We are at JATC North to learn more about the Digital Media program. We're here with the instructor and some students who have won State and are headed to Nationals. So first introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about the course you teach.

Lisa Wadzeck:
Hi, my name is Lisa Wadzeck. I teach Digital Media at the JATC. Basically, it's a place where you can come and be creative and research all the careers that revolve around being creative and working in technology, such as animation and video game production.

Anthony Godfrey:
And it's that combination, creativity and technology. There's a wide range of opportunity within that combination. We spoke briefly on a previous podcast and we've been wanting to come back for a while now. And this award-winning group is the best excuse ever to come back and talk with you more about what happens in the class. But for those who may not have heard before, tell me a little bit about the range of student interests that you meet in this class and the range of students who might be interested in taking a course like this.

Lisa Wadzeck:
We have everyone that just loves to draw and hasn't really thought about what careers might be related to that and can research where they can go with graphic design and illustration and magazine layout, those types of things, to students who've had programming but want to see how to apply that to making video games and creating their own assets to make the video games. We have several students interested in audio production and video production. We've got 2D and 3D animations. We have several students who are interested in making their own films, writing their own music and score for films or just music for bands in general, photography.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there are all kinds of outlets for creativity in the class.

Lisa Wadzeck:
Absolutely.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about the competition and project that we're going to explore today.

Lisa Wadzeck:
So one thing that's really neat, and I am so proud of my students for, is because this is a new technology, I do not have any training in this. We've had to dive in together and when I say together, mostly the students have researched how to make this work. My program does have some game design background but making that work on a VR is a different approach with the types of code and things that you need to use. So they've had to go out and research what works best to make the mechanics and the activities that they want to experience.

But ultimately they took a theme from the Technology Student Association they gave that was encouraging students to be more healthy and physically active. They completely planned this original game of what is the experience going to be like. What is it going to look like? What do we need to model? What do we need to code? And then also come up with their own plan of deadlines and responsibilities and work together in a team of six to create a single project. Which in K-12 education most people think group projects are kind of hard because there are a lot of issues that kind of come with that. But in the creative industry that is absolutely what you're doing. You are working as a team. So we try to do as many things that encourage building those skills as a team and these guys just rocked it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. So what's the name of the competition or the category in which they–

Lisa Wadzeck:
It's VR experience through the Technology Student Association and I believe the name of their game is Bouldering.

Anthony Godfrey:
Bouldering. Alright, let's find out about Bouldering. Introduce yourself, tell me your name, the school that you're from, and what it was that led you to take this class.

London Baker:
My name is London Baker, I'm from Copper Hills and I think what led me to take this class was probably the graphic design part of it. There was a, at my middle school they talked about JATC and the Digital Media program and all of the examples they gave was people working on the Cintiq tablets and drawing and I was like I want to do that. Sounds awesome.

Anthony Godfrey:
Good. That's helpful for me to know that because I always want as many students as possible to know about the amazing opportunities here, and you say Digital Media and I worry that they don't realize just how many opportunities are embedded in that. So I'm glad to know that those middle school visits really help and I'm glad you're here. How about for you, introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about why you're here.

Marissa Pierce:
I'm Marissa Pierce and I'm from the West Jordan High School. I heard about JATC somewhere along the lines of last year, I don't know where. But I figured that I wouldn't have anything to do since I did a lot of my classes already so I chose to go and try to be a part of JATC and it worked. I liked the Cintiqs and the pictures of the website so I would go into Digital Media two weeks after joining JATC like being there.

Anthony Godfrey:
And where are the Cintiqs? What is that exactly?

Marissa Pierce:
They are those fancy things. Oh, so that's the device, that's the computer that you're using to create on. I'm looking forward to seeing how that works. Okay, introduce yourself.

Josh Copp:
I'm Josh Copp, I'm from West Jordan High School. I came to JATC mostly for the animation stuff. I wanted to try it out, that was what I wanted to do and I've really been into it. I had some experience with the 3D modeling program Maya before and I've really expanded upon that, and I've also done some 2D animation. And I've just, I've really enjoyed my time just learning other things other than animation as well here.

Anthony Godfrey:
What was your exposure to Maya before being in this program?

Josh Copp:
I took a private class outside of school. That's how I was first introduced.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. I don't have any idea what Maya is but I'm glad that it was a gateway to getting you here.

Josh Copp:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you?

Noah Campbell:
I am Noah Campbell, I am a senior from Bingham High School and this is my second year at JATC. Last year I was able to do the programming portion and I was able to participate in the video game design and go to the competition that we took first in this year. And then I really enjoyed being able to work on video games last year and I was like, I kind of really like all this computer stuff so I decided to use my creativity side and join this class after doing the programming. I decided last year before doing the programming that I would do programming first, get all those skills down, and then I'd be able to come into this class, have a little bit more fun, and be creative about it and we've been able to work on this awesome project.

Anthony Godfrey:
Add creativity to the programming and technological side.

Noah Campbell:
Add the creativity side and combine them to make cool projects.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. Well, tell me a little bit about the project, Bouldering.

Noah Campbell:
So what we have over here next to this computer, this is the main computer that I've been working on. We're using Unity to make the video game and kind of organize everything. We have a lot of different softwares like Maya that they've been using. Maya is a modeling software and that's where we make all these models. So if you see, this is one of our main maps right here and it's kind of like this mystical mushroom island that you can kind of see.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you use Maya, the modeling in Maya to create those mushrooms.

Noah Campbell;
To make these and then we transfer them over and we're able to upload them onto here and then I can go through here. I can work with lighting, I can work with making it look visually well and then more so putting in the game mechanics and the physical actual things of the VR right here.

Anthony Godfrey:
So when you're participating in this game or playing this game, is it educational at the same time that it is entertaining? What exactly is the point of the game?

Noah Campbell:
So like Ms. Wadzeck said earlier, the main point of the competition and the op-ed that they gave us was creating it for physical activity to encourage it for younger kids. So we talked as a team and we decided we need to make it so it's kid-friendly and then we need to make it so somehow physical activity gets in there. And the first thing, well one of the first things that came to our mind was climbing. We thought climbing, like rock climbing, playing on playgrounds, all sorts of stuff, that's a really good way to get in physical activity and using a VR, being able to climb in VR would be awesome. That's where we got our name Bouldering from, from the actual physical activity you would find outside jumping around on rocks and actually climbing.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it'll be virtual climbing. Is there any virtual falling involved?

Noah Campbell:
So in regards to falling, and this was actually something that was brought up, because you can actually fall in some areas on this. And we don't want to scare the kids that are playing. This is meant to encourage education. So we were able to come up with this really cool animation that we're working to implement. And basically, when the character falls, let's say you climb up to a really high height on one of the levels and you just fall, he's going to pull out this umbrella and then he's going to glide down on this umbrella and it's just going to kind of reset him at the beginning of the level.

Anthony Godfrey:
I like that.

Noah Campbell:
So it's not violent, it's not scary, it doesn't cause any problems with you wearing the VR and making you sick and stuff like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about what happens next. You took State, London tell me a little bit about the state competition and going to Nationals.

London Baker:
Well, the state competition was kind of stressful.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what did that involve, what did that look like that day?

London Baker:
So we just had to turn in all of our planning stuff. And it was like there were two rounds of competition where we would turn in our planning stuff and then we would go to a second round. Then they would actually play our games and talk to us about it and then they would do the final judging and see who won.

Anthony Godfrey:
So multiple people played your game and you were waiting for them to judge other people and all of that. So it's a little bit difficult. There's that anticipation that keeps building as you wait for them to come and work on your game in particular.

London Baker:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, things turned out. So now when is Nationals and where are you headed?

Josh Copp:
It's June 25th and it's taking place in Orlando, Florida. I'm also currently working on some new music for the game and sound effects just to add a little bit more polish to the game. For another level we're designing it's like a medieval castle-like level and I'm designing some houses for this village outside of the castle. I'll probably also put in some other items and help around by actually implementing things you can climb in the level and you know make it a game instead of just a pretty scene.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, instead of just an environment that you enter. So there's the game component of it.

Stay with us. When we come back, I try out the award-winning game created by the Digital Media students at JATC North.

Break:
Does your student want to become a veterinarian, commercial pilot, programmer? Maybe they want to make a difference as a dental assistant. These are just some of the programs offered as part of Career and Technical Education, CTE in Jordan School District. CTE provides the technical skills needed to prepare students for future employment or for a successful transition to post-secondary education. Career and Technical Education provides work-based learning opportunities. We partner with industry experts to offer apprenticeships and internships with students working in the real world at real jobs while going to school. The CTE experience starts in our elementary schools with the Kids' Marketplace and grows through middle and high school. To explore all CTE has to offer in Jordan School District visit cte.jordandistrict.org today and let's get your child started on the pathway to a profession.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you give me the VR experience of Bouldering?

Noah Campbell:
Yes, I can.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Do I sit here?

Noah Campbell:
You can actually, we can go stand right over here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah, that's right. It's VR. So I'm just going to hook up on the headset. See I was going to sit down at the computer that tells you how advanced my video game skills are.

Noah Campbell:
So this is an Oculus 3 and so this is one of the newer ones. I think it's the most recent one.

Anthony Godfey:
I did not use an Oculus 3 when I was in my high school computer class just, you know, to clarify.

Noah Campbell:
It's really cool that they added this competition because, well, last year was the first time they added it and so there was a lot of new stuff that was kind of made. I'm drawing the areas right now so you don't run into anybody.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, you're turning around in a circle with the Switch controllers in your hand. Okay. Or the equivalent. Or the Wii. They're like Wii controllers. Yeah.

Josh Copp:
Yeah, you got it.

Anthony Godfrey:
At least I'm not referencing Pong in the Atari 2600, you know, which I still have at home by the way, if you want to see any antiques. I do have those.

Noah Campbell:
So it might be a little tight.

Anthony Godfrey:
Should I put these on?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah, you have to put them on.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is going to be tight. I have a little bit of a...

Noah Campbell:
You’ll hold on to these and those will go back and forth and this will go up and down.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow. You guys created all of this?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's pretty amazing. It looks like a pretty fun play place. There's a sandbox. This is very soothing actually.

Noah Campbell:
So right now you're inside of the playground which is kind of our tutorial map and that's kind of the way, and that's our very, very, very small first level.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Noah Campbell:
So that's what's going to kind of teach people like hey this is how you're supposed to like do this, this is how you're supposed to climb. And so you can use the joysticks on your controllers and those will help you look around and move around and stuff like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, so I have a controller in my left and in my right hand and I'm just using the little joystick. Do you still call it a joystick?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah, you would call it a joystick. Or Joy-Con.

Anthony Godfrey:
Joy-Con. Okay, I'm walking up to the stairs. It's very colorful. I have to describe the scene so there's a big playset kind of like you'd find in a public playground except it's super huge. It's more awesome than any of the ones you'd see in reality. Pink clouds and green grass and a little sandbox and it's all fenced in with a nice white picket fence. I kind of want to go up the blue stairs into the playset. Can I do that?

Noah Campbell:
You can. So if you just walk up to the stairs you'll just automatically move up them.

Anthony Godfrey:
I walk up. Oh, I'm kind of tall. Do I need to duck down to get in?

Noah Campbell:
Yep. So this is one of our things—

Anthony Godfrey:
So I duck down. Alright.

Noah Campbell:
This is one of the things that have been added for the physical activity.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow.

Noah Campbell:
So it actually requires you to do like actual movements and stuff like that. Like ducking and moving your hands to actually reach them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Very cool. So I'm going to grab and hold down this button. It's giving me, so I'm now inside the playset and it's giving me instructions on what to do. So let me just say right now that it actually feels like I'm going to walk off the edge of the earth because of the way you have designed this. I'm like, okay, don't fall into the big white nothingness. That's what I start my day with every day. “Don't fall into the big white nothingness.” How do I get back in? I feel like I'm going the wrong way.

Noah Campbell:
Actually, the only way to get back in is to fall off. Just kind of like you would fall in a role game. That will reset you at the beginning.

Anthony Godfrey:
So I have to learn how to fall like I was saying earlier. Okay. Do I just keep walking into the void?

Noah Campbell:
Just keep walking and then you'll drop down from the island and...

Anthony Godfrey:
Honestly, it feels really weird to drop down, to walk out into this void. It's telling me not to. Okay. I think I'm going to stop because otherwise, I'm going to hurt myself or someone near me.

Noah Campbell:
I can take those controllers.

Anthony Godfrey:
The music is really cool too. It's like it has a retro feel but kind of a reassuring feel also which I know is what you're going for. Wow. That is really cool. That is impressive stuff you guys. That was very immersive.

London Baker:
Once you get past the tutorial level, we have the Mushroom Mountain level which has a lot more different climbing things. In that level we have monkey bars and rope, but in the Mushroom Mountain level we also have things like ladders and you can climb into the mushrooms. And there's another level where there's a mountain but then you have to climb like upside down. It's really scary.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you just get me into that general experience?

Noah Campbell:
I can run to that really quickly. Get to you there.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just run to it really quickly. If you wait for me to be able to find my way, it might take a minute. Talk about what led you to take this class. Now that you've experienced it and you've had this level of success, what do you want to do next?

Josh Copp:
I'm going to keep going to school, college and what not and I'm going to try to get a bachelor's degree in animation. I'm just hoping that I can keep on animating whether that be 2D or 3D.

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. How about you London?

London Baker:
I signed up for Digital Media next year so I'm going to be doing it again. I wanted to do it again because I really like this class and I feel like I've learned a lot and doing it again I'll be able to learn a lot more.

Marissa Pierce:
I think I'm going to keep going to college and then figure things out from there. For sure after taking this class I have figured out what I like to do. So fortunately I'm not planning to be a doctor because I didn't want to. I'm just going to stick to 3D modeling assets, possibly animation, something to do with art, like drawing, but mostly just 3D modeling.

Anthony Godfrey:
So this is something you want to do as a career?

Marissa Pierce:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wonderful. How about you Noah?

Noah Campbell:
Sorry.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm asking this question while Noah is getting me to the magic mushroom.

Noah Campbell:
I’m almost there, I'm on the zip line right now.

Anthony Godfrey:
You need to focus. I don't want you to fall.

Noah Campbell:
You're good. So the reason, what I plan to do after this, I've always been interested in video games. I would love to work in the video game design industry and create entertainment for people. One of the cool things about video games is when you're working in it you're not just working on one specific thing like drawing and stuff like that. You're working on all these different things. Music production, you're working with a team, you're making 3D models, you're making levels, you're designing everything, you got to write documents. And it's a lot of different skills all kind of combined into one. Lots of programming skills, so there's a lot of different stuff that's pretty cool with it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Awesome.

Noah Campbell:
That's kind of my plan after I graduate this year.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let me try it out here.

Noah Campbell:
This is the beginning of the mushroom level. You should be able to see it. And then there's your controller so you can move using the joysticks. Don't fall off the ledge. This one's way different than where you were.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow, this is cool. Is that kind of a purple ocean beyond the mushrooms?

Noah Campbell:
Yes, it is.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. It's kind of an Alice in Wonderland feel. I'm walking up to the big mushroom. Oh, there we go. I got it over the hump. Now I want to climb up. So do I have to put my hands up to climb?

Noah Campbell:
Yep. And you'll just grab on it. You'll have the big mushroom probably right up there. And there's another like a little ladder. And that's just kind of a fun little one leading to a fairy house.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm not going to make you all wait while I try to climb the ladder. But this looks fantastic. I like the lanterns hanging up throughout, you know? Kind of gives it a mystical feel. Well, this is super cool. I love this level. This looks really… Oh, and I love the prisms or the kind of geodes that are out there. It looks like this could go on forever. And I like the plants that are coming up with the little kind of tendrils. Reality is not going to be quite the same now that I've been in virtual reality.

Well, congratulations on your success. I wish you the best in June at the competition. And thanks for spending time with me. This is really awesome.

Noah Campbell:
Thank you. Our goal is to take 1st and represent Jordan and JATC.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, good luck to you. Thanks very much. I like your chances.

London Baker:
Thank you.

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

[Music]

It is a beloved tradition at Bluffdale Elementary School now in its tenth year.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside an educational celebration called Brasilandia. Hear how the event helps students use and develop new skills in the Portuguese language and how it enhances their love of the Portuguese DLI program at the school. It is a traditional taste of Brazilian culture and food that everyone has definitely grown to love over the past decade.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It is a beloved tradition at Bluffdale Elementary School, now in its tenth year.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside an educational celebration called Brasilandia. Hear how this event helps students use and develop new skills in Portuguese, and it provides a sample of Brazilian culture and food that everyone has grown to love over the past many years.

[Music]

We're here with Edson and Jessica at Bluffdale Elementary School. Edson was the teacher of the year for Bluffdale Elementary, and Jessica is the first teacher of the year for DLI District-wide. So congratulations to you both, and thank you for inviting us here today for the festival. Tell us a little bit about what the Portuguese Dual Language Immersion Festival is all about today.

Edson Rabelo:
Thank you so much for coming today. This Brasilandia started more than eight years ago with the former DLI teachers in our school. They had this whole idea to have the students engaged in activities that are usually played in Brazil and in some other Portuguese-speaking countries. After some years, we decided to have six graders managing and being the leaders in this group. So now they are the leaders engaging the leaders' students to speak even more Portuguese.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic. Tell me a little bit about the activities that are planned for today.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
So they have ten activities, ten stations all over here in the field, and then the DLI teachers organized the kids in ten groups. So they rotate in these ten activities. We have Peteca, we have Pular Córda, Bambolê, Futebol, the authentic soccer, the Brazilian soccer, and we have the Jogo do Balde and other activities that are typical from Brazil.

Then after they play here for about an hour or so, they go back to their classrooms to taste some of the authentic Brazilian food, to have a small taste of what it tastes like. And then they enjoy with their classmates in the classroom and dance to some songs from Brazil as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're going to appeal to all of the senses today?

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tasting and listening and all kinds of things.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Tasting, listening, dancing, speaking, yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
So tell me about some of the activities going on. Let's talk about probably the most traditional activity, one that listeners might be least familiar with.

Edson Rabelo:
So we have Peteca. It's something similar to badminton. But it's usually in Brazil, since it's connected to some indigenous culture origins, so they keep playing like in a group or in two people, and then they keep throwing that to one another. So usually when we see the Peteca, we can see some feathers on the top.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, very colorful feathers. Is that a weight on the bottom of it?

Edson Rabelo:
Yeah, that is a weight on the bottom. Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And so you're throwing it to someone while they are hula hooping?

Edson Rabelo:
Oh, that's the kids. They are like really creative. So they are like using the hula hoop to play in a different way.

Anthony Godfrey:
OK.

Edson Rabelo:
So we just hold one side and then we just...

Anthony Godfrey:
So you hold it just under the feathers. Am I doing this right, guys?

Students:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. And then you hit it?

Students:
Yeah, you just can’t let it hit the ground.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're hitting it to each other. Oh, it's like hacky– Hey!

Edson Rabelo:
There you go! Good job, good job.

Anthony Godfrey:
I got three in a row. That felt OK. So it's like hacky sack with your hand and it has feathers on top of it.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, kind of like that?

Student:
Yeah, pretty much.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you guys were adding hula hoop to it as well?

Student:
So you can like hula hoop like this, and then you could try to like hit it into the hula hoop.

Anthony Godfrey:
OK.

Edson Rabelo:
They are creative.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, yes. All right. I made it. I did not see this and think, you know what, I need to find a way to make this more challenging. But you did and somehow... OK, let's try this. Somehow it's a whole new game. Oh, hey, two in a row. All right. I'm stopping there because I'm ahead. All right. That was fun. Thank you, guys. This looks... Well, the kids are having a blast, that's for sure.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
And soccer, of course, is a very important sport in Brazil.

Edson Rabelo:
It is. It's huge in Brazil.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah, it's very traditional. We play here like in twos. So we have like this small set of goals so they can play and take turns. Like groups of five or six students can play easily in this setup. And of course, this is very popular. They love this station here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. These kids are good.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
I love the connections that they make, like the American football, the Brazilian soccer. So it's nice to play both.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, that's wonderful.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you told me about the sixth graders running things. How did the event change once you put the sixth graders in charge?

Edson Rabelo:
So it changed because I could observe the students more engaged to participate. And they were like, “Oh, we are the leaders now”. We are like on the top of the elementary grades here.

So we are engaging these little kids to speak the Portuguese language that they have been studying since first grade. They are the ones organizing like the posters. They drew, they colored the posters. So they did everything like the games that we were organizing. They were like setting up yesterday in my classroom like, “Okay, teacher, we have enough games here. So we have we need some more here.” So today, this morning they were carrying everything outside. So they were leading everything.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic.

Edson Rabelo:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's another layer to the experience they're having and the opportunity for leadership.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes. You know, speaking in Portuguese. That's what we do. They know that when they talk to the teacher, it needs to be in Portuguese. So that's the situation like the talk and questions and everything needs to be in Portuguese.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really cool.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah.

Edson Rabelo:
So important.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you teach first graders.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Right.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you teach them right from the start.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
We were talking earlier about how they will listen and listen and then suddenly bam, the words start coming out of their mouths.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Right.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about watching that evolution where someone comes in and doesn't speak any Portuguese perhaps and then by the end of the year. Talk to me about that transformation.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah. It's amazing to see the growth. And in settings like this where they are open, they are free to use and to put in practice everything that they learned. It's so amazing to see how they can create because in the classroom we see a lot of growth, but they are comfortable with the setting. They are comfortable with the materials. They know their routine.

But here is a completely new situation. It's a real-life situation for them. So they come with language. They have to come with everything that they learn and put in practice and solve their problems here. Communicate what they want to communicate in the games and talk to their friends here. So it's kind of a huge jump when you see what they are doing in class. They can do their math, they can do their science, they can use their sentences. But they also can communicate and solve problems here in a real-life situation.

Anthony Godfrey:
A real-world application for what they are learning.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's really cool. And what I understand is that there is a high retention rate. Once someone comes into the program, students tend to stay in the dual language Portuguese program here at Bluffdale.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
That's correct. Yeah. They feel that they belong to this program, to this community, and they create strong connections with friends and with the teachers. And I like that as they go from grade to grade, they know that this event is coming up and they are getting ready. They are familiar with changing some of the games throughout the year so they can experience different games, not all the same. And the sixth graders, of course, they get ready for middle school. They can work on their leadership, on their protagonism to get ready for middle school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, how did we get so fortunate to have you in Bluffdale, Utah, teaching Portuguese in a dual language immersion program? What brought you to Bluffdale Elementary?

Edson Rabelo:
So Jessica and I, we are from the same state in Brazil, Paraná. So we were living in different cities, but we connected here. So that's where we are learning together. We had this agreement between Utah and the state of Paraná. So both the Utah Board of Education and the Board of Education from Paraná, they have this agreement where they can bring some teachers to teach here in Utah and have this experience. So we can come and stay for three years or we can stay longer. So that's what we decided, to stay longer because we love doing what we do here.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm so glad you decided to stay longer. I'm so glad you decided to come here. It's no wonder you are both award-winning teachers. Thank you for providing these incredible experiences throughout the year for these students.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here, to be able to do our job, like work as a teacher, as we were doing in Brazil, but in a different country. Being able to work with our own language, it means a lot to us. We feel very fortunate.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a huge positive impact for these students. So thank you very much.

Edson Rabelo:
Thank you so much for coming.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you so much.

[Music]

Stay with us. When we come back more with Bluffdale Elementary School and their Dual Language Immersion Program.

[Music]

Break:
In Jordan School District, we like to support students in and outside the classroom along with their families. That's where the Jordan Family Education Center comes in, offering support services and a wide variety of classes for students and their families, free of charge. You can take a class called Blues Busters for children feeling sad or worried. Just Breathe is a class that helps students reduce stress. Or how about a class that supports parents in helping their children make and keep good friends. There are also support groups and free counseling, all provided by Jordan School District school psychologists, counselors, and school psychology interns. To find out how you can benefit from free family support services offered by the Jordan Family Education Center, call 801-565-7442 or visit guidance.jordandistrict.org.

[Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with a few students in the program here at Bluffdale Elementary. Tell me your name, what grade you're in, and what you love most about the DLI program.

Welling;
My name is Welling. I'm in third grade, and the thing that I like most about the DLI program is that I get to learn another language. Lots of my relatives went to Brazil for their mission and so I got to speak with them.

James:
My name is James. I'm in third grade, and my favorite thing about the DLI program is I can know lots of different things in different languages, including math and reading. So that I can talk when I go to Brazil if I go.

Frankie:
Hi, my name is Frankie, and I'm in third grade. My favorite thing about the DLI is that you can have your own secret language around your family if they don't know Portuguese. And you don't, like, whenever you're mad at somebody, you're like, "Ugh!" and you can only say it in Portuguese, and they won't understand it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow, okay.

Piper:
My name is Piper, and I'm in third grade, and I just love how I get to learn about the Brazil culture, and that's why I love the DLI a lot.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, I don't speak any Portuguese at all. Tell me a favorite word, or tell me a sentence in Portuguese.

Welling:
“Olá”.

Anthony Godfrey:
What does that mean?

Welling:
“Hello”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. How about you? Can you teach me a word or a phrase?

James:
“Eu amo matemática”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is that "I love math"?

James:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, very nice. Okay, say it again.

James:
“Eu amo matemática”.

Anthony Godfrey:
“Eu amo matemática”. Okay.

Frankie:
I like this word, and it's, I don't remember what it's called in English, but it's “paralelepípedo”.

Anthony Godfrey:
“Paralelepípedo”.

Frankie:
“Paralelepípedo”.

Anthony Godfrey:
I can't say it like you do. What does it mean?

Frankie:
It means cobblestone.

Anthony Godfrey;
Cobblestone.

Frankie:
I don't know why I like it.

Anthony Godfrey:
That is a cool word. That is a cool word.

Frankie:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you?

Piper:
“Eu amo português” which is "I love Portuguese."

Anthony Godfrey:
"I love Portuguese." Fantastic. So, are you guys excited about learning Portuguese all the way through middle school and into high school?

Students:
Yeah.

Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
And do your friends speak Portuguese outside of school? Do you speak Portuguese with people who are in the program?

Frankie:
I speak it with my dad. That's it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, you speak with your dad? So your dad speaks it? Is there anyone at home or any friends you speak with?

Piper:
I could speak it with my brother that also goes here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, yeah? Oh, good.

James:
I speak it with my two brothers that do the DLI, my dad and most of my friends.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you said you talked to family members that have gone on missions that now speak Portuguese?

Welling:
Mm-hmm. And also I talk to my friends at soccer because they're in second grade in the DLI.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say about the teachers in DLI?

Welling:
Super nice, and they helped me a lot.

James:
They helped me learn the Portuguese language, and they were really nice when doing it. They didn't, like, yell at me if I got something wrong.

Frankie:
What I've noticed myself doing is that I've been improving on Portuguese and on math. And what I love about my teachers is that if I do something wrong, they'll help me through it. And even if I don't understand it, they'll still help me. And then eventually I'll start to understand and learn how to do it.

Piper:
What I loved about my teachers is how they helped me know that mistakes are proving that you're trying to do something.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. It sounds like you're all learning a ton. Tell me, how do you say goodbye and thank you?

James:
“Tchau, obrigado”

Anthony Godfrey:
“Tchau, obrigado”

Students:
“Tchau”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much. Thanks for talking with me. “Tchau”.

Students:
“Tchau”.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with a couple of parents who have two students in the program. Introduce yourselves and tell me about your experience.

Andrew Bateman:
So, Andrew Bateman, my wife, Luci Bateman. I served my mission in Brazil, speak Portuguese. My wife's from Brazil. So, Portuguese has been a big part of our life.

Luci Bateman:
And it used to be our secret language at home.

Andrew Bateman:
It was.

Luci Bateman:
Where we could, you know, talk about what presents we were going to get them for Christmas and their birthdays until they became fluent because of this incredible program. So, our two oldest go to Bluffdale Elementary School. One's in third and one's in first grade. And we have our third daughter starting kindergarten. We want all of our kids to go through the program because the teachers are phenomenal. I love that each of them are from a different part of Brazil. So, my kids get all of the different accents. And that's how you know they're truly fluent.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, the different accents.

Luci Bateman:
They understand all and they're so different from the northern part of Brazil, southern part of Brazil, central. The way they pronounce things is completely different. And my kids can understand them all. I still have grandmas that live in Brazil and my kids will FaceTime them and just fluently speak Portuguese to them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow.

Luci Bateman:
And what we love also about the program is not just the language exposure, but also the cultural exposure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, to be able to understand different accents–

Andrew Bateman:
Yeah, it’s cool.

Anthony Godfrey:
Not just the language, but different variations of the language is pretty amazing. That is a deep level of understanding. And your grandmas must love talking with these kids.

Luci Bateman:
Oh, they love it. And then we had, we went to a Festa Junina, it's like this big party that happens all over the country in the month of June, on Friday at the high school in Riverton.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah.

Luci Bateman:
And my daughters were dancing, you know, dances from the northern part of Brazil that I never learned as a kid growing up because–

Andrew Bateman:
In Brazil.

Luci Bateman:
I’m from Rio. Yeah. And I graduated high school in Brazil, but it was like Rio and Sao Paulo. So they're learning about regions that I didn't even learn as a kid. And we sent videos to my family and they were so excited and so proud. Anyway, so we just got our passports because our kids- renewed their passports- because our kids are dying to go to Brazil now and order the food by themselves and talk to other kids in Portuguese. Because last time we went to a country, we went to Portugal, a country that speaks Portuguese, they didn't know the language yet. So now they're dying to go.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. When they go to Brazil, it'll feel like it's a country built just for them.

Andrew Bateman:
Yeah, they will.

Luci Bateman:
Exactly, and they'll feel like they're part of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much for talking with me.

Andrew Bateman:
You bet.

Anthony Godfrey:
And hopefully, lots of parents can hear this and sign up for the program as well. Even if you don't have a connection to Brazil or the Portuguese language, this is a deeply enriching program for students. And like you said, fantastic teachers top to bottom.

Andrew Bateman:
They're amazing. Just to be able to speak another language is huge.

Luci Bateman:
And there's a huge Brazilian community in Utah. There's lots of Brazilian restaurants and stores. And to be able to connect with more people and talk to more people that don't just speak English is already such a gift.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks very much for your time.

Andrew Bateman:
You bet.

Luci Bateman:
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.

(upbeat music)