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Episode 1: A Chicken Named Waffle

What are students thinking about as we begin the 2019-20 school year in Jordan School District? Superintendent Anthony Godfrey visits a second-grade classroom at Terra Linda Elementary School to hear what young students are saying and his conversation with one student takes an interesting turn.

Then the Superintendent heads back to the studio where two West Jordan High School seniors share their thoughts about finding success this school year and how they believe parents can help.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. We're just starting out a new Jordan School District podcast that's designed to educate, inform, and hopefully entertain you. We're going to talk about a lot of different topics related to education, students, teachers, parents. Some of it will just be informative no matter who you are. So we hope you'll stay tuned and stay in touch with us and keep listening to the Supercast for today. We're going to start by a quick stop at Terra Linda Elementary school to see how the new school years going.

Student:
My name is Joshua Holmes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about second grade so far. How's it going?

Joshua:
It's going great. I love second grade and my most favorite thing is recess.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me how you like second grade so far.

Joshua:
I like it a lot because I really like doing math and learning. I love it because we get to do coloring and we get to do science.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Joshua:
I want to be a veterinarian and a dog wash.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Do you have a dog at home?

Joshua:
Yeah. Her name's Tina.

Superintendent:
Name is Tina. Wow. Do you have other dogs?

Joshua:
No. I have a bunny and chickens and a cat and fish.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. So your parents must love animals as well. Is that right?

Joshua:
We have six chickens. They're all named breakfast food.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So what are your chicken's name?

Joshua:
Waffle, Pancake, Bacon, Oatmeal and Mashed Potato

Superintendent:
There's Mashed Potato. In your family, is that a breakfast food?

Joshua:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Just another reason to want to visit your house. I can't think of anyone who would do a better job as a veterinarian than you, so congratulations. In second grade, I did not know what I wanted to do and I certainly didn't have the qualifications. You already have some good job knowledge. That's really exciting.  Mrs. Allah, thank you for letting me talk with your second grade students.

Now, you said that they all made an assumption about me when I walked in.

Mrs. Allah:
Every single one of them asked if you were the President of the United States. They were pretty excited at the idea that the President was coming.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much. Have a great year. Nice to see you.

We'll share more of my visit here at Terra Linda Elementary school later, but now, let's head back to the Supercast studio where I sit down with two students from West Jordan High School who have some great words of wisdom for students and parents alike. Here with us, we have two seniors looking at their senior year ahead of them. It's going to go fast ladies. I know old people are going to keep telling you that, like me, but we have Emily and Francesca in studio. Thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Introduce yourself here.

Student:
I am Emily Lavante. I'm going to be a senior at West Jordan High School. I am the Student Body President this year and I'm on dance company.

Student:
I'm Francesca Padovano. I'm also going to be a senior at West Jordan High School and like Emily, I really like to dance, but I'm not on dance company. I dance by myself, you know? I am also on student government and I'm the Communications Officer.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me, now that you're on the cusp of senior year, and it's already going fast and it's going to fade away quickly, as we say, those of us who went to high school in the 1900's. As you look back, what have you liked most about your school experience? Are there moments or people?

Student:
I think for me, what I've liked and what I'm excited for going into senior year is just really feeling so close to everyone in the grade. I had classes with these people sophomore year or these people junior year, and I went to this game and saw them there. And now it just feels like it's our third year together, we've known each other for so long. I don't know, those are my favorite memories, seeing someone that I had a class with in a different place in school and just forming all those relationships.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's great. That's great. Francesca.

Student:
It's very similar. It's just the high school experience is something so fun and something people only dream of that live in other countries. America's high school is really cool. So I really like going to all of the games, sports games, football, volleyball, basketball, everything is so fun. Just seeing everybody progress. As all the years go, to see what they go into and if they actually live out their dreams, or if they change courses, like some of us want to do.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. That's very interesting to me. That's great. So are there some things that I would have to agree when I look back, it's the same thing. It's the relationships and kind of the sense of community and belonging, that we were all in it together, like you said, and we change and we learn and we're all doing it together. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back, stick around. These ladies have more wisdom to share. So we'll be right back.

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Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome back. We're back with Emily and Francesca, seniors at West Jordan High School. And they've talked about some of their goals and the positive experiences they've had over the years. I want to ask you now, you've both made the most of high school. Francesca, you came in from another school, dove in, made friends, got involved and you're in student government. Emily, you're heavily involved with Dance Company and government, and you've been with a group of students for a long time, and you both have the goal of helping get people to activities and feel part of the community. What advice do you have for parents to help their children get involved? Maybe they're starting out as a sophomore at the school. Maybe they are coming from another school, maybe boundaries have changed. What advice do you have for them to have a positive experience? The social part of high school can produce a lot of anxiety.

Student:
Actually, my freshman year coming into high school, I went to Oquirrh Hills in Riverton. And so I didn't really know anyone going into my sophomore year. I think just joining student government right off the bat. It's joining anything that interests you and just even going to the audition, just to make those connections and get to know people, I think is so important. And I know it's easier said than done, but just to put yourself out there and don't be afraid of failing when you are trying out for something or trying to join a club. I just think it pays off so much and that helps make school a more comfortable and fun place to be.

I would say, be encouraging to your kids to find things that they're interested in and to be involved in a group at the school. That gives you more reason to be there and to build that community.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I like what you said. I do think sometimes we go into that and we're worried about not being good enough to even try out. I remember, we had a great runner in my high school and I thought that would be kind of cool. I would like to do that, but I assumed that everyone had to be great like him. I didn't know that as long as you were willing to get up early and run and you were crazy enough to keep doing it, they would let you be on the team. I wish I had known that looking back. So I think it's great advice to dive in and try out. There's a lot to do. And, with folks like you leading student government, there'll be more and more opportunities. So Francesca, how about you, what advice do you have for parents to help students feel a part of things at high school?

Student:
Well, like Emily said, a very important part is that parents need to encourage children to just go out there. A parent's opinion is very important to students, especially. There's this spot for everybody at our school, there's clubs for everything. And if you don't like one thing, great, find something else. But it's definitely just encouraging and being for the student. If they do end up going into that club or that team to support and go to all the events and just be happy for them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Great. So, kind of pave the way to be sure that they have the opportunity to go.

Student:
Yes.

Student:
I just love something that you said. That parents opinions do matter to kids. And I think that even my parents and I have talked about this before, that they've said with my two older brothers. They weren't really sure if going to his wrestling match, going to his band tournament, does it really matter? And it does. Even just being willing to make the time to drop your kid off at the school to go to odd jobs or to go to a football game. Just knowing what's going on. I know that teenagers can sometimes say, I don't want to talk about it. Don't wanna talk about my day because I've been that person. But just as much as they let you in, just take advantage of that because I'm so glad that my parents have stayed in the loop with everything that was going on at my school as they have. And they've definitely been the ones to encourage me to go to things sometimes I maybe didn't want to.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So in other words, even if the outer sign suggests that kids don't want parents involved deep down, they really do.

Student:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. That's great. That's great advice. So you talk to a lot of kids, you know a lot of kids, you hear the struggles and troubles, so what are some things, you know, we've all been through high school. Adults have all been through high school in one way or another. So sometimes we remember it and think that it's still the way that it was. What are some things that, just talking with your friends or your personal experiences, what are some things that you wish adults knew about high school that sometimes they don't seem to understand about what it's like? Not your own parents or teachers, but just the things that you hear?

You've already told us something really important, which is students care about parents being involved. It's important to them and they listened and it matters what they say.

Student:
Maybe it's just that there's so many opportunities out there that they should be aware of that maybe weren't there when they were in high school and that they should really look into what's out there at the school.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a great point because I remember touring a high school as a teacher and I've been teaching for a while. I'd been out of high school for a little bit, but I thought it wasn't that long. I still know what's going on in high school. And I went back and visited and I had no idea what was going on because things had changed so much in a positive way. So that's good advice. Just be aware that there may be some opportunities that you don't know about and to help connect your child to those opportunities. You need to investigate that and explore. Yeah, that's great.

Student:
I think this is actually something I was also talking about with my mom the other day, that when you look back on trials, challenges, things have been difficult in your life. It's so easy to say, why was that hard for me? That was like looking back on it because you've been through it, and so it doesn't seem so difficult now. And, I don't know for parents and teachers to just say, the things that they do know are still going on, the things that haven't changed, the stress over homework, worrying about your social circle, that it's not just a shallow superficial thing. I mean, high school is just a place where your school, your extracurriculars, everything is so concentrated. And when you're removed from that, I think it's easy to, I mean I shouldn't say it's easy, but from what I've heard from adults and teachers, is that they feel like it isn't as difficult as it actually is. So, just trying to realize that when you're not in that situation, you might not have the same perspective and to just really listen to what kids have to say.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That makes a lot of sense. And it's good advice overall, really listen to what people have to say.

Student:
And if we made it through, sometimes you can think, well, I made it through, so it can't be that bad. You'll get through it. And instead, like you said, it's great advice. Just listen really carefully.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're going to take another quick break. And then we'll be back with Emily and Francesca. They get to ask me some questions when we come back, so stick around, stay with us.

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Superintendent Godfrey:
And we're back with both seniors at West Jordan high school. I've been asking them a few questions. They've given some great advice and perspective about what high school in the 2019-20 school year is going to look like. Now it's their chance to ask questions of me. So a Francesca go ahead.

Student:
Okay. When technology nowadays is really advancing, I just wanted to know, how has that impacted students' achievement in the school district?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, I think that's a great question and it's a question we need to keep asking ourselves. Technology impacts it for the better, because we're able to use technology in ways that people can learn in completely new ways. On the negative side, technology distracts from spending time on homework or spending time learning or experiencing things. And so it's finding that balance and finding healthy, engaging ways to use technology, to learn in completely new ways, not just an electronic version of the old way. Emily.

Student:
I know for an elementary school, middle school and a high school, the budgets are obviously all different for those. But within that, do all the middle schools, all the high schools, do they have different budgets? And if so, how do you decide how resources and money are allocated to different areas?

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think a lot of people wonder that. including the principals who receive those budgets. You put money toward the things that you value, and there are some things that we have to do with certain pots of money. So some money is more restricted than other money. We allocate money to schools based on those rules. First, money from the state or from the federal government or from grants, and then as a district, we allocate money according to the number of students that you have. We try to give as much freedom to each school as we can so that they can accomplish the things that are important to them. But, school money comes from a lot of different sources and we try to really help principals make the most of that and they do a great job.

Student:
Right. Cool. Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alright, Francesca, did you have another?

Student:
Yes, I do have another question. So, every student at every school always has their own level of learning. I was just wondering what steps are being taken to ensure that every student is learning at their own pace.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That is something that we concern ourselves with all the time, because we want students, wherever they start to end the year with at least a year's progress. And so, there are a lot of different things that we do there. We work with teachers to help provide support so that they can structure class in a way that allows for what's called individualized or personalized learning. Then we also use technology, which you mentioned earlier, because that allows us to do some online courses or to do flipped classrooms where you're doing your learning at home. And then you do the work in the classroom, or even blended learning where you do work at your own pace and connect with the teacher on a regular basis. So we're trying lots of methods. That's the real trick to trying to make the most of education, is to personalize that for the individual. So we keep working on it.

Student:
Cool. Thank you.

Student:
So across the board, what would you say, just in general, how are high schools in the district excelling? And what's something that a lot of them are struggling with, like trends in both those areas?

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think high schools have done a great job of expanding the options for students. We have our tech centers, we have just a large variety. We've added sports, we've added clubs. So I think a lot has been added that way. We continue to improve in graduation rates. And so graduation goes up and up and ACT scores are going up and up. But I think the thing we always have to focus on, I'm going to go back to your question, Francesca. And that is, we just want to be sure that we're meeting the needs of the individual student. And it's hard to do that with class sizes so large and with our schools so large, but we have teachers dedicated to that. So that's the challenge, I think. And the other is social and emotional wellness, just making sure that everyone feels part of things and that they feel connected and they feel supported and that their self worth is there in place.

That's good for us to hear because that's our job. So yeah, I mean across the whole district, it's nice to know that that's something that we need to keep, like keep on going.

We're constantly thinking about that. And, like you said, it's students like you that make the big difference because you're able to connect and help people feel a part of things. So thank you for that.

Students:
Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I can't wait to see how the school year goes. I'm excited for you and thanks very much for spending some of your summer here in the studio.

All right. Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Supercase. We'll be back again. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. Now, Francesca, can you translate that to Spanish for us?

Student:
Si

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well said, thank you. See you next time.

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