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It is the opportunity of a lifetime for teachers at Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School. They can’t wait to start teaching in their virtual classrooms this school year, leading the way as pioneers of sorts in personalized learning for students in Jordan School District.

On this episode of the Supercast, we talk with some of the Rocky Peak Elementary teachers who say they are ready to rock the new school year with amazing students and creative virtual classrooms where learning will be fun and engaging.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for teachers and students at Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School. They are thrilled to let the learning begin in their virtual classrooms this school year, leading the way in personalized learning for students in Jordan School District. On this episode of the Supercast, we talk with some of the Rocky Peak Elementary teachers who say they are ready to rock the school year with amazing students and creative virtual classrooms where learning will be fun and engaging.

We are here at Hidden Valley Middle School to talk with Ross Menlove and members of the faculty of Rocky Peak Elementary School, our virtual school, that launches in the fall. Ross, thanks for taking some time.

Ross Menlove:
It's a pleasure to be here with the Superintendent.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about some of the preparations that are happening for the fall. We're excited about not one, not two, but three new virtual schools launching, giving students some additional options that they haven't had in exactly this format before. What is some of the preparation that's been happening this summer?

Ross Menlove:
Some of the preparation that has been happening is we brought in all of our teachers from all the levels, from the elementary, middle school and high school, and we did a few days of training on competency based education and personalized learning. So providing that choice and voice for students as they go through their learning process. But part of the training was training the teachers on competency based education and providing time for teachers to work on their curriculum. The teachers this summer had been spending quite a bit of time building out curriculum, specifically designed for personalized learning for their students.

Anthony Godfrey:
One of the more common questions we get as educators is, 'so what do you guys do all summer?'  I know that there's always a lot of work that goes on, and this year in particular for these teachers in particular, there's a lot of work, not just to create content and be prepared to help students learn virtually, but also to be, as you say, competency-based and truly shift the way that we look at learning overall, and that combination is powerful. You can give us some more details about this, but really this type of approach can work very well for a student who struggles and feels like they need some extra individual help, but also for a student who sometimes may get frustrated because they feel they're beyond the instruction that's happening in the classroom.

Ross Menlove:
So at Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary our mission is personalized education. We focus on the student, what the student needs. So parents as they look at the virtual elementary, they have two curriculum choices for their students. They have synchronous choice in which they are able to learn live with their teachers, and the teachers are designing that curriculum specifically for those students, or they have an asynchronous choice in which they are able to learn at their own pace, their own place. They don't meet with the teacher live every single day in the asynchronous, but they have the teacher there available to meet with them daily, if they need. It's very personalized and designed specifically for that child and for those students.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think that is uniquely possible through a virtual approach and the way that you structured it. It even gives a lot of choices within the virtual school because we've talked about virtual learning as a choice, but even within virtual learning, you have synchronous, asynchronous, you have opportunities to come in person as well. Tell us a little bit about that option.

Ross Menlove:
So one of the options we have for students it's called 'Peak Time'. We have two physical locations for Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary, one at Majestic Elementary, at the north end of Jordan District, and one at here at Hidden Valley in the south end of the District. Students can come in two days a week to do hands-on science, hands-on STEM, hands-on art, they can do P.E., they can do social studies, and those 'Peak Time' activities are taught by the teachers. So it's a very enriching curriculum, but it's a fun opportunity just to come and learn and grow and be social with other students.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there really are a number of different layers to being able to learn at Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School, and that's what I love about it. It's all the choices within that virtual option. Let's talk with a couple of the teachers who are on your faculty.  I just am going to note that we had a ton of applicants, so we really have some of the best teachers anywhere that are working on this and launching Rocky Peak. Introduce yourself, tell us where you were teaching and give us a little bit about yourselves.

Kasey Chambers:
I'm Kasey Chambers, I'm the fifth grade teacher at Rocky Peak Virtual. I have been with Jordan School District since I graduated from BYU, for nine years now.  I've been at Butterfield Canyon for all of those nine years, so it was a hard choice to change, but I couldn't resist the opportunity. I'm really excited to be teaching virtually.

Ashley Tanner:
I'm Ashley Tanner. I have been teaching for seven, eight years and I've taught kindergarten through fifth, and this is actually my second year in Jordan School District.  I will be teaching third grade this year and so I'm really excited.  I taught online last year and I'm really excited to take a more proactive approach to virtual education this year.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think you make a really good point that it's going to be different from the online and virtual learning that has happened previously. I like to look at it in kind of three phases. There was the phase where everyone, we just shut down immediately and we all had to kind of do the best we could with what we had. I think we did really well given the circumstances. And then the next year that was really pandemic learning that was available virtually for every student who wanted it. And every teacher who wanted to teach that way and some teachers who didn't plan on teaching that way, but were asked to. And again, I think that went very well. There were certainly always things that could be better when you do something that fast and that dramatic change. But again, given the circumstances, I thought that teachers and students and families pitched in together and did an extraordinary job of making that available. But a lot of those choices were based on the need to be home for personal health reasons. And now going forward, the virtual option is really available for those who feel that teaching and learning in a virtual environment is going to be best for them personally. So Ashley, tell me, what was it about teaching virtually that made you want to continue to do that?

Speaker 3:
I think the unexpected part of virtual teaching last year that I enjoyed so much was the support from home. So I would bring to the table, the curriculum and, and the, you know, what, what do we need to learn and how is the best way to learn it and all of that science and the education that I bring as a teacher. And then I got to combine that with the experts on that child, with their family, if they're guardians and we combine that together. And so I would present, you know, here's what I want to teach. Here's what you should learn. Here's why you should learn it. And then the parents would say, great, I know my child, here's their strengths, here's their talents. We're going to combine those things together. And I had kids that soared. I mean, it was so exciting by the end of the year to beat not only, well, yes, they, they did what they should, but they excelled. They did more than I thought they would do. They did more than I thought they would do, even if I were in a brick and mortar school with them. And so it was really exciting to be a part of that team where the parents and the guardians and me and the school, and we all came together and something great unexpectedly. Great. Came out of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Casey, tell us about your experience and what made you want to continue teaching virtually

Speaker 3:
Kind of like Ashley, I was asked to go online and Ross will tell you I went and kicking and screaming, but we're here and I, I ended up really, really enjoying it, obviously. One of the things that I loved about it was that there's a lot of things that go on in a school that don't need to go on at home. So like the PE and the transition time and going to lunch and having recess. And I, you know, I need you guys to read a book for 15 minutes while I grade this quiz or all of those things. It's there's a lot in a school day and all of it's great, but what's really cool about virtual is that it's kind of formulaic in a way to where I can say these are the five things we're today.

Speaker 3:
We're going to teach it and you can do it on your own time. And these are my clear expectations. I taught more social studies, more science than I have any other year just because of how our days are filled with it's if they're just at home. And so I don't need to send them to recess. I don't need to have them take a break unnecessarily for a recess or whatever. We don't have to go to lunch. And so it was really cool just to see how much I could fit in and the unique ways that kids could tell me that they learned there's many different ways they can make a video, they can do all of these things. It felt a lot easier to differentiate for my kids as well. And, and I had several students who just excelled and loved it so much, which was really unexpected. I think for a lot of teachers, we thought, oh, this is just going to be terrible. They're going to miss being, seeing me every day in person, but they loved it and they did well, and they helped me keep getting better because they were doing so well. So it was awesome.

Anthony Godfrey:
You both mentioned a deeper level of connection connection with family and the connection between the teacher and the student. And when you clear away some of what is necessary when you're in person, but not necessary when you're virtual, it creates some space for additional learning. I find it remarkable that both of you were able to teach more and some more from students in a virtual environment. And I think that has actually been true of a lot of people I've talked with in articles, I've read about adults who are working from home productivity has gone up. And so it sounds like that's been your experience with students as well, that productivity went up, interest levels went up and really they were able to focus on the things that were, that they needed or that were important to them.

Speaker 3:
I agree. I think, I think a big thing too, is that we all recognize that like online learning is not for every kid. There were some kids who needed to be in person and we all recognize that. But I was very surprised at how there's, there's so many different things that we just didn't think about that would help a kid do better at home.

Anthony Godfrey:
Right. What are some of the other positive experiences you've seen as students have learned virtually Ashley?

Speaker 3:
Well, I think obviously every year teachers are trying to better themselves. We're trying to educate ourselves more on how to really teach these children how to teach these students. And we know that students learn differently. And I think one of the things that I really enjoyed about teaching students in their home was that I had some students that were more kinesthetic learners. And so they got to move around more and they got to be more physical with their learning. There were some students that were more auditory and they could really doodle and, you know, I mean, and, and I just, there were so many different ways that these students that they would build things. They would want to talk in groups in breakout rooms, but they would also just want to be introspective. And we had the space and the teaching virtually to allow them to process what they were learning and the way that they learn. I

Anthony Godfrey:
Hopped on to read as part of a reading initiative. And I read to an entire, I think it was a third grade class in a school. So the whole grade was together on a huge zoom call and a couple of kids hopped on, oh, no, if you do this, then, you know, they were giving me advice on how to hold the book and angle the camera and turn off my mute button, you know, those types of things. So when we come back, we'll take you on a tour of the new Rocky Pete virtual elementary school.

Speaker 1:
[Inaudible]

Speaker 3:
Do you simply love learning online? We can't wait to have you join the amazing teachers in our brand new Jordan, virtual learning academy in Jordan virtual learning academy schools, we offer innovative, fun and flexible online learning with daily real-time instruction from teachers. Enrollment is currently open for all K through 12 students in Utah, start on the path to personalized virtual learning success. Now I connect dot Jordan districts.org. That's connect got Jordan district.org.

Speaker 1:
[Inaudible]

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here at hidden valley middle school with Ross men love principal of Rocky peak virtual elementary school. And we're excited that there's space in our newest middle school here at hidden valley to provide time for students and teachers to interact for peak time a couple of times a week, as you have described. And this is where the offices will be counseling center, and there are a few modifications being made. Can you kind of walk us through the facilities? Yeah. As students walk in, they're going to walk into really big open area. The open area is designed like for peak time for kids to be able to come in, interact with their teacher, do some hands-on learning, do some science experiments stem activities. We also have three classrooms specifically set aside for peak time for kids to be able to come in. One of those classrooms is a science specific science classroom.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let's walk over there. One of those classrooms is a science room where we have, you know, linoleum floors. We have gas in the gas piped in, you have water. So kids are able to do some actual science projects. You know, we'll, it'll be fun to see what the teachers do with the students during peak time. And I can see that this is a totally separate wing with a separate entryway at the back of the school. So really there, isn't going to be any interaction with the middle school students who are here day in and day out. Yeah, that is correct. We have, we have, we're specifically designing this space for elementary, middle school and high school. So as the kids walk in, there's going to be spaces designed specifically for those elementary students, you know, lower desk kids to be able to work together in groups, but also for the middle school and high school to come in and work independently on their work they need to, and this is a lab that wouldn't normally be available at the elementary level.

Anthony Godfrey:
So they're getting access to some things that they wouldn't normally see. Yeah. It's pretty exciting. We're going to do some really fun science experiments and some stem to be able to, to deepen our love of learning. Peak time is a time for kids just to come and enjoy learning and enjoy being with their teachers. And teachers are able to teach without having to worry about a test or anything like that. Just do it for the love of teaching. And just as a reminder, it's not required that anyone come to peak time or that they do anything in person that is correct our school. They can be at home for the entire thing or wherever that wherever we can customize the learning for where they need and wherever their location may be. And so I saw that there's also a separate counseling area and there'll be computers where students can come and work.

Anthony Godfrey:
And that's been something that students have wanted to do over time. We've had virtual students for a long time in the district, not virtual schools, but students who wanted to learn virtually. Now if elementary students need individual, in-person help. They can to get that as well. Yes, that is correct. We invite the elementary students to come in individually to meet with their students. One-On-One the elementary students can be learning from home for their major curriculum, but if they need that individual time, they can either come in during peak time or schedule a time one-on-one with the teacher. It's exciting. There's so many different layers, so many different aspects to the way that students can learn directly individually and in a personalized way. Yep. We're personalizing the instruction for the student. You know, the student is in the driver's seat of the student and the parents are the ones who get to make the educational choices.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's best learning for them and for their learning needs. I love how you're adapting this wing of the school to make it a very welcoming and interactive environment. And I think it's a great component to a virtual school. That's when it's pretty exciting. Rocky peak virtual is going to be pretty awesome or Ross, thanks to you and your faculty and everyone else who's worked to make this possible. I know you've been involved in this type of learning for a very long time. So you've all of your experience has prepared you so well for this. And we're just, I'm thrilled to offer this to families and students in Georgia district. That's when it's pretty exciting. Rocky peak virtual is going to be pretty awesome. The website for the school is Rocky peak dot Jordan district.org has information there and has some videos go on and meet the teachers. Thanks again for the time. Great talking with you. You just can't enroll now in Rocky peak virtual elementary school, by going to connect dot Jordan district.org. Thanks for joining us on the super cast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

Show Audio Transcription

They spend hours behind the wheel transporting thousands of students safely to and from school, on fun field trips, to athletic events and more.

On this episode of the Supercast, we hop on board the big yellow school bus to find out what it’s like to be a school bus driver. Hear why our drivers love the job and the students they serve, driving countless miles with safety in mind each and every day.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:

Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host Superintendent, Anthony Godfrey. They spend hours behind the wheel transporting thousands of students safely to and from school, on fun field trips, to athletic events and more. On this episode of the Supercast, we hop on board the big yellow school bus to find out what it's like to be a school bus driver. Hear why our drivers love the job and the students they serve, driving countless miles with safety in mind each and every day. The school bus is here, let's climb on board.

We're here at Eastlake to take the kids home on an afternoon, joining Sean on his route. Sean is a driver extraordinaire, very popular, not just with the kids on the bus, but in the neighborhood as well. And we're excited to take a ride.

Sean: Hi kiddos. Can you guys all say "Hi"? This is the Superintendent kiddos.

Anthony Godfrey: Hi guys!

Sean: All right, kiddos. We're taking off, everybody sit down.

Kids: Can we be Fortnite taking off?

Sean: Nope, we're being the red alligator today kiddos. All right, kiddos, everybody sit down, remember to keep my aisles clear. Do we stand up while the bus is moving?

Kids: No!

Sean: That's what I thought. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey: What's the, uh, red dragon or red alligator or Fortnight?

Sean: They are the red Dragons, but every day before we take off, I let somebody choose what we are. Sometimes we're a magic school bus, sometimes we're a hippopotamus, I let one kid choose, and today they chose alligator. So we're going to be a red alligator today.

Sean: We get lots and lots of random questions on the bus.

Anthony Godfrey: Well there's time and space. It's like a little road trip.

Sean: Do you guys remember what you were going to do up here at the crosswalk?

Kids: Yeah!

Sean: Okay. As soon as we go through the crosswalk and pass and then you guys can start.

Kids: (Singing) 'Wheels on the Bus'

Anthony Godfrey: Sean, I've got to admit, it's nice to have somebody else driving.

Sean: I've always enjoyed driving. Even when we go on vacations, everybody's like, you need a break and I tell them, "Nope, I'd rather drive."

Anthony Godfrey: Well, Sean, it's a relatively short time with them, but boy, there's a lot of interactions.

Sean: A lot of interaction.

Anthony Godfrey: What other schools do you serve on your routes?

Sean: I drive Mountain Ridge High School and Copper Mountain Middle School.

Anthony Godfrey: How are high school, middle school and elementary kids different on the bus?

Sean: My high school kids like to sit down and keep to themselves and be quiet. They'll talk to me every now and then. The junior high kids are very vocal. They have their own little groups that they'd like to stay with. And as you can tell, the elementary kids are the rambunctious bunch.

Anthony Godfrey: Well, they're rambunctious because they want to talk to you. You're doing a great job of it and I love your interactions with the kids. It's so, so fun to watch.

Sean: I appreciate you. Thank you for coming out today.

Anthony Godfrey (04:19): We are here in the transportation offices in the new building to talk with three of our finest bus drivers about what their experience is. Please introduce yourself and tell everyone how long you've been driving.

Jerri: I'm Jerri Ellsworth. I've been driving for about five years.

Val: I'm Val Asay, six years.

Sean: Sean O'Brien and this is my first year.

Anthony Godfrey: Okay, great. I'm really excited to talk with you guys. First of all, tell me what made you want to be a bus driver?

Jerri: When I was released from the job I had previously, I received some paperwork from that former place and I said, "Consider me retired." Then I looked in the little town newspaper and they were hiring bus drivers, so I said "I'm retired, I'll go drive a school bus."

Anthony Godfrey: How about you Val?

Val: That's about the same for me. I've been retired about 10 years and I thought that I needed something to do to keep myself busy, and this was a perfect fit for me.

Anthony Godfrey: Great. How about you, Sean?

Sean: I have a nine-year-old. I worked at Terra Linda last year and this year I worked doing buses and I have the same days off as him. It works out perfectly.

Anthony Godfrey: That's awesome. It's really nice to have the same schedule. What do you guys like most about being a bus driver?

Jerry: I like driving the different buses and I like the kids, the interaction with the kids. They're all different. Some are challenging and others are just really good. Really good and sweet kids.

Anthony Godfrey: I'm sure that there's a good blend there. How about you Val?

Val: I have driven regular ed buses, but I drive a special needs bus. I enjoy those students. I have had some of the same students for five years, and the parents get to know me and the students get to know me. Those special needs kids melt your heart and they are really good kids. Once you get to know their needs, their wants and the things that upset them or the things that make them relax, it's really special. It's special to know that all children are offered an education, even those who have very special needs. I love my special needs kids.

Anthony Godfrey: I'm sure that seeing you is one of the things the kids really look forward to in the morning and on the way home. Just getting to spend that time with you after they get to know you for as long as they do.

Val: Yes, there are a couple of instances where the parents are glad to know that the same faces are coming back to pick their children up, to take them to school. They get used to our faces and who we are. That is very reassuring to most kids, but especially to the special needs kids.

Anthony Godfrey: I can only imagine that it's comforting to say, "Yeah, there's Val taking care of me getting me to school." That's awesome. Sean, what do you like most about it?

Sean : It's got to be the kids. At Terra Linda last year, I worked in the Strive unit, the autistic unit, and was one of the 'pink ladies' outside doing recess duty and just fell in love with them.

Anthony Godfrey: What's most difficult about driving a bus that maybe people don't realize?

Sean: People not following the stop signs. That is just downright scary that people are on their phones, not paying attention. When you see the stop signs come out, just please slow down and don't go around them. It's almost a weekly thing. And you have to sometimes grab the kids, honk the horn as loud as you can, and make sure that they know the rules, jump back in front of the bus because you don't want to see another child get hurt.

Anthony Godfrey: How about you?

Jerri: Well, regular drivers have a tendency to cut us off.They'll swerve right over in front of you. I have a front end bus, a nose, and it's like, they just wipe the nose off the bus to get off and make a quick turn, or they see a bus coming from a stop sign and they pull right out. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, everything around you and, and look forward because you never know what's going to happen.

Anthony Godfrey: Val shaking his head in agreement.

Val: Yes, everybody's in a hurry and the bus is just another obstacle that they've got to try to work around. That's a scary thought that they think that way. That's my personal thought, I don't know how they feel, but it seems to be that everybody's in a hurry. We need to slow down.

Jerri: That's right. I had a driver that got tired of waiting I guess. We were close to a four-way stop where I picked up my elementary this morning and she just decided to go. I honked, and she just kept on going. It scares me when they do that. They don't realize that something can happen or that a kid can come running across the street. They aren't going to take the time to wait a couple of minutes.

Anthony Godfrey: It takes every driver out there to be more cautious and to be careful to keep everyone safe. What are some of the things that people may be misunderstand about what it's like to be a bus driver?

Jerri: I've had people say, 'how can you do that? Have all those kids behind you?'  You have to let your kids know from the start that you are serious about what you're doing. "You guys have to stay in your seats to be safe and you have to do it. Everybody is an example to one another." You have to follow through if somebody's misbehaving. You have to let them know, "Hey, I mean business, if I'm pulling over because somebody's jumping across the seats, you're either going to come sit up up behind me, or I'm going to have to write you up and it's going to involve the principal and your parents." I think that's something they don't realize. And then you have to remind them, "We have cameras on the bus. We can see everything you're doing and hear everything you say."

Anthony Godfrey: That's something parents who are listening to this, aren't thinking about probably. Go back to your childhood and think about it. If there' would've been cameras on that bus it would have been a little bit different. I can tell you that.

Sean: We're the first point of contact for these kids in the morning. We're the first thing that gets them going. If you're in a bad mood, then the kids are going to be in a bad mood. Even if you're having a bad day already, we try and make it happy so that the kids can go to school and be happy all day. Just tell them when they're getting on "good morning" when they get off, "I hope you have a good day. We'll see you guys after school". As they're getting on your bus, talk to them, say, "how's your day going?"  Just making the kids happy is a good thing.

Anthony Godfrey: I love that because really, that is what you are. You're the first point of contact. You set the tone for the day and I'm sure, like we talked about it earlier, it's a comfort to see a familiar face and to start things out that way. To know that there's someone asking how they are right from the start. Someone who knows them.

Jerri: I had a middle school girl a couple of years ago that wrote me a note on the last day of school and thanked me for making her day better by wishing her a good day or saying good morning to her, asking her how she was. Ever since then I make sure I always greet everybody because it was important to her that her day was started out on a positive note when she was feeling bad.

Anthony Godfrey: It doesn't surprise me at all that that was important to her. I know what a great role you guys play. Safety is of course the main thing, but feeling important, feeling like you belong, having someone make a contact, say "I'm glad to see you".  I'm sure that when you see that someone you're used to coming on the bus, doesn't come on. Then you're able to say, "Hey, how's everything going? Are you okay?" because they missed a day.

Sean: Especially this year.

Anthony Godfrey: You guys are awesome. I'm so glad that our kids see you first thing in the morning. You're taking such great care of them and I just can't thank you enough. Thank you very much.

Stay with us, when we come back more behind the wheel with our school bus drivers.

Commercial (14:03):

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 workatjordan.org.

Anthony Godfrey (14:56): We're talking now with Paul Bergera, the Director of Transportation.

Anthony Godfrey: Paul, tell us some of the numbers. How many employees do you have in the Transportation department and how many buses do we run in Jordan district?

Paul: Great question Superintendent. We have about 272 employees in the Department of Transportation. Our fleet comprises over 110 CNG buses, compressed natural gas buses, our entire fleets is around 265 buses. So we're quite large. We have the largest CNG fleet west of the Mississippi, and it's a natural resource for the state of Utah. So it makes sense for us to reduce the carbon footprint in our valley and take advantage of a natural resource that's right here at our doorstep.

Anthony Godfrey: I know that we've received some nice awards and some grants associated with that. What would you tell someone who is thinking about applying to be a bus driver, describe kind of what the options are and how they would apply.

Paul: You bet. We have all varieties and all walks of life. We have young people who are here, we also have middle-age folks who have expressed an interest in driving buses and retired people. It really depends on the person because we have a lot of different options for drivers. They can come and be a substitute bus driver if they don't want to commit to driving all year round. We have some contracted positions, so we do offer benefits for anybody that works at least 27 and a half hours up to 40, is benefit eligible. So it really kind of depends on the individual and what he or she wants as an employment option in driving a school bus. What I hear all the time, from drivers that I talk with, is how much they enjoy what they're doing and how much they wish they would have started at a much earlier point in their life. Driving a school bus is just extremely rewarding, like was mentioned, with the drivers. They're the first face that kids see in the morning, the last face they see in the afternoon. What an impact drivers can have on the students of Jordan School District.

Anthony Godfrey: They certainly do have a tremendous positive impact on kids. It makes a big difference to see a smiling familiar face that gets you there to school on time in the morning. We're always looking for drivers, so anyone who's interested really should get online and apply, and like you said, there's a lot of flexibility in it. If you want to be a substitute driver, and there are routes that are stacked with three or four schools, and there are others where it's a single school route and you can spend less time driving during the day. So that's, I think, that's one of the appealing things, is there's a lot of flexibility.

Paul: Absolutely. Depending on your kind of day to day activities, some drivers choose to do mid day runs. So they'll have a preschool or a kindergarten, some drivers like to drive their morning run, go home, have some lunch, spend some time at home and then come back and drive their afternoon routes. So a great point, yes, a lot of flexibility and just such a great career.

Anthony Godfrey: Now it's not just drivers, we need mechanics, we need attendants. Tell me about some of the other jobs in transportation.

Paul: Excellent. Attendants are always a hot commodity. Our attendants are specifically assigned to buses with students with special needs. Mechanics, especially in our new facility, we've grown, so we are looking for a loop tech currently, for example.

Anthony Godfrey: Great, well, lots of opportunities, a great place to work and a brand new facility. We got a tour of that  recently, and we'll do a podcast about that soon. Just great, great people to work with and a great area in which to work.

Paul: Thank you, and I really appreciate your support.

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

 

Show Audio Transcription

Do you have a student or family member looking for language learning resources in the community? On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside the Jordan School District Family Engagement Center where students and families are finding language support services that are changing lives.  The center is also connecting families with social and emotional support they need. The services are available all summer long and they are free.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Do you have a student or family member looking for language learning resources in the community? On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside the Jordan School District Family Engagement Center, where students and families are finding language support services that are changing lives. The center is also connecting families with the social and emotional support they need. The services are available all summer long and they are free. Let's head inside Copper Mountain Middle School to learn more.

We're here at Copper Mountain Middle School at the Family Engagement Center with some of the staff who made that possible. I'm going to ask them to introduce themselves and then we're going to learn about all the ways that we engage with families in Jordan School District.

Staff:
I'm Michelle Love-Day, the consultant over Educational Language Services. I'm Toni Brown, I'm the Parent and Outreach Specialist on the Culture Diversity Outreach Team. I'm Silviane Perkins. I work directly with parents, teaching them English as a second language (ESL), and some of the resources that are available for them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Michelle, start by telling us a little bit about the Family Engagement Center and its purpose, how it came to be.

Michelle:
So we started this because with our Parent Outreach focus and our Culture and Diversity Team, we really wanted to reach our parents to support them on how to be engaged with the schools. We are finding that many of our parents live in Title I schools, but they live outside of Title I schools as well. In talking with schools such as Copper Mountain in Herriman, we're noticing a lot of our parents are moving out this way, but there's no support for them to learn English. There are no resources for them to be able to navigate our system. And so we created this Engagement Center so they can learn English through our department and have support.

Anthony Godfrey:
So how many Family Engagement Centers are there in Jordan District right now?

Michelle:
Under our department, this is the first one. We're very happy that Copper Mountain opened their doors and said we could have one of their portables. We're hoping to also work with West Jordan Middle School so that they have one. We are kind of a sister team to the Family Resource Centers that the Title I schools have. But this is the first one that our department has.

Anthony Godfrey:
Describe for me a little bit, the difference between those two.

Toni:
Well, at the Family Learning Centers in the Title I schools, they operate similarly, but their reach is a little bit smaller because it's a smaller school that is primarily based on things that parents of elementary school age students would need. And here at the Family Engagement Center, we are reaching out to all parents and trying to provide things that suit the needs of older children, as well as the parents themselves.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what kind of classes would you offer to parents?

Toni:
Right now we have an English class for people interested in learning English. We have also been requested to have a Spanish class for English speaking parents that want to communicate with their ever diversifying community.

Anthony Godfrey:
Right, and really connect is what we're trying to do. We're trying to connect the school to our families and to our community and then connect them with each other so there's a great web of support. Silviane, you tell me a little bit about your role.

Silviane:
Usually when parents come here, it's almost impossible to separate their needs from how they feel. This group of parents, they need English for a purpose which is to be operational, to function. They have bills to pay, they have to get jobs. If you don't speak English, that has a huge impact on your family and also on your children because if your mother, your father cannot help you with your homework, who will? It's not that if you are an adult that you cannot learn.  You will learn English as your second language, but you have to have a certain mature approach because they have other things in their lives. So that's my role, to make them believe that they can learn how to speak English, and how to change and protect their children and their families.

Michelle:
With the help of the State as well, who were able to give us finances to have operations so that we can translate. That is what started the trajectory of the Family Engagement Center and seeing to that need, because we're getting the support and funding. We're also working on translating many documents that we send out from our department to the parents districtwide, so that we can help them navigate the home language surveys, the ACT opt out or opt in for testing scores and just all kinds of family demographic questionnaires that they receive.  The good thing is that the word has gotten out, and like Silviane said, there are 60 parents that are registered. It was wonderful because the word got out and we had a parent show up at our office two weeks ago because they needed help to understand what was being placed in Skyward for their son in order to graduate. What did he need? How do they pick up a packet? So items just as simple as that, where parents are afraid to call the school, they now know that the Family Engagement Center has somebody that speaks Spanish, or that we can find someone that speaks their language, like Swahili, or Kinyarwanda, and we'll help them navigate what they need to do.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is great to have those resources. So really, a primary purpose of the Family Engagement Center is to overcome language barriers. But what are some of the other barriers that need to be overcome as well?

Michelle:
I would say some of the barriers are just the access to resources. As Toni said earlier, combining all the resources that are out in our community for our parents and bringing it into a place where we can give them the opportunity to register their child to take ALPS testing, let them know there are science activities that are available after school, and as we come up on summer, what summer programs we have available so that they understand the opportunities. This year, free and reduced lunch has been done differently, but next year there'll be a change, and we want to make sure that parents are getting the reminder and understanding the email that was sent out. Understanding that they're going to have to re-register for free and reduced lunch, or they're going to have to opt out of certain things. There are barriers I think in just what they don't know because of communication from school to home.

Silviane:
And something that I always like to emphasize is this is not just for our Spanish speaking parents or parents who do not speak English as their primary language. This is for any parent who wants to improve. For example, we have a coalition in Salt Lake. It's an organization for women who support their families because they're alone. They have this organization that can help women prepare themselves to face interviews, to become more professional, to find a better salary. We also have a University of Utah Initiative for how to get a higher return on your taxes.

If you have teenagers, they sometimes, for different reasons become depressed, especially during COVID. We have many mental health, physical health, and professional help resources. There are many people, like Michelle said, who don't have the information that they need. The Family Engagement Center, that's the middle name, is to engage those families and give them power, the power of information. With that in mind, if families can share these resources with their neighbors and communities we can empowerment the whole community. It's a win-win situation.

Toni:
I'd also like to add that right now, the Family Engagement Center is in its infancy. We're still in a very malleable state. We are listening, we want to know what the community wants and what they need. So we're reaching out to people to hear, what can we do? We're here, we want to help you, and we will help you find an answer.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's really sounds like the main purpose is to connect people with resources. Sometimes those resources are within the school district. Sometimes it's external. I've been surprised over the years when I've learned some of the things that are available to help parents that may be in a difficult circumstance, even temporarily, that they didn't expect to find themselves in. So what you said earlier is important. Really, the Family Engagement Center is for all families, regardless of their circumstance. There's some things we have to offer.

Stay with us. When we come back, more about the free support services for families and students available all summer long.

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

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the resources that might surprise people? Are there some resources that might not occur to people that are available through the Engagement Center?

Silviane:
One of the resources that people always get very surprised about is that there are dental clinics and health clinics that provide services. Sometimes they don't even have the family income scale. There are also psychological and mental health assistance resources. When some families are dealing with addiction and they need intervention, there is also a service provider called Cornerstone House and they offer assistance as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
People have been surprised when I've talked with them, friends and colleagues, that the Jordan Education Foundation has expanded Principal Pantries to every one of our schools. The Principal Pantries are where donors provide toiletries, food, even clothing, and other materials for students who need that. They think that need is concentrated in a particular area of the district, but it's throughout the district. We have students experiencing homelessness throughout the district, students who experience food insecurity. There's a lot of support. I'm really glad that this center is out in the Herriman area so that we can reach every corner of the district.

Toni:
It's not that the need isn't there. It just looks different in different communities. A lot of times, these things kind of go under the radar because people don't want you to find out, but having a Family Engagement Center is a convenient and comfortable space for people to reach out without having it become a big ordeal. It's at their kid's school that they go to every single day.

Michelle:
The one thing when we decided to do the Family Engagement Center and specifically selected Herriman, with the growth of homes and condos and apartments along Mountain View Corridor, many parents wanted to be able to go to Majestic Elementary and learn English, but the transportation is very inconvenient. We've learned that just because they live out here doesn't mean that they don't want the resources. So by having it closer to a home, yes, we're housed at Copper Mountain Middle school right now, but it's available to anyone that can get here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. We talked about the need. There are a lot of languages spoken by families in Jordan School District. You mentioned Swahili and another one. I'm not even sure where that language is spoken. Tell me some of the other languages that are spoken in Jordan District.

Toni:
There's a lot of Kurdish.  It's the first time I'd ever been asked to find a Kurdish translator before, or to find a Kurdish interpreter. We've also had Kinyarwandan.

Anthony Godfrey:
That was the one you mentioned, where is that spoken?

Michelle:
Kinyarwandan, and that is spoken in a part of West Africa.

Toni:
There are 53 languages within the Jordan School District from Samoan to Arabic. Spanish, of course, is our largest second language to English. But there's a variety of languages. 53 languages from Vietnamese to Cantonese to Hindi. And so we want to be able to provide resources to those families.

Silviane:
I have students from Croatia, Italy, Brazil, and Venezuela.

Anthony Godfrey:
That may be another misconception is that it's really mostly Spanish that we're helping with, but we can find resources to help with any language.

Michelle:
Yes, and the great thing of the State of Utah is just the services that are offered through Serve Refugees and the Utah Refugee Connection. We are partnering with Women of the World. And while those services are down in Salt Lake City, because of our connection we're able to bring the resources out here to families so they don't have to make their way downtown and take most of their day traveling to get the information.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's obvious that all of the support for families results in students being more successful in school. But can you articulate that for me a little bit, what does that mean when families feel that support and connection for students?

Toni:
Definitely. I believe that when you're teaching a child, you have to look at the whole child and whole child includes whole family. They come to us in the mornings and they're there with us all day, but when they go home they're with their family and having safety and security and comfort and peace in your home translates exponentially into the classroom. A child who is comfortable and feels safe and feels supported at home, then comes into school and gets that same environment, it's just a circle of love and support, just enveloping a kid, that helps them develop positively.

Anthony Godfrey:
If listeners think, "Hey, this is something that I could benefit from or a family I know could benefit from this", how do they get in contact with the Family Engagement Center?

Toni:
They can feel free to send me an email at toni.brown@jordandistrict.org. It's Toni Brown, it's an easy name to remember. Just shoot me an email, I will put them in contact with the right people or help them find the right resource.

Michelle:
So if they go to http://els.jordandistrict.org and just click on Outreach, they'll be able to click on the information. Toni's name will come up, and the information and the times of when we meet. Typically Tuesdays and Thursdays have been our class times for this year, and they can put themselves on a list to join in.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you all for taking the time to be on the Supercast, but more than anything, to be so thoughtful and intentional about how to help support our families and in turn, help support our students and make sure that they have every success possible.

Silviane:
Thank you Dr. Godfrey, and I just want to say something in Spanish and Portuguese.  So thank you, Dr. Godfrey for helping us to spread the word about the Family Engagement Center. Thank you.

Michelle:
Thank you so much for having us.

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.

Show Audio Transcription

It is a performance filled with passion involving writing, rhyme, alliteration, metaphors and in many cases audience participation.

On this episode of the Supercast, find out why so many students are using Slam poetry to express themselves and the way they look at life. Poetry slams are a big hit and we head to South Jordan Middle School to find out why.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a performance filled with deep emotion involving writing rhyme, alliteration, metaphors, and in many cases, audience participation. On this episode of the Supercast, find out why so many students are using slam poetry to express themselves and the way they look at life. Poetry slams are a big hit right now. And we head to South Jordan Middle School to find out why.

Student:
My name is Jackson Miller. And my poem is called Middle School.
Driving traffic. The obnoxious, babbling and blaring of car horns.
Angry, agitated, and aggravated, the light remains red,
Struggling to find those who feel similar.
The light will turn green anytime now
I'll be home. Okay.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell us a little bit about your poem.

Student:
Um, well I thought a lot about it and I decided to do it on middle school because it's middle school. I have a lot of feelings about middle school so I figured it'd be easiest just to write it about that. And I got some help from Mr. Baney. I got some help from some teachers. But, it's about kind of the struggle of being in middle school and how it can be hard to function with everything happening in drama and emotions and our body's changing. And sometimes you just feel like you're kind of stuck in place and you can't really go anywhere. But at the end I kind of tried wrapping it up saying I'm almost out of middle school. I'll be in high school soon

Anthony Godfrey:
And how does it feel to look at the page and see that with some help, you've been able to put those feelings into words.

Student:
It feels amazing. It feels great. I'm so, so glad I got to do this and I'm going to continue doing poetry and improve.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great to hear. Are you looking forward to high school?

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you'll be at Bingham next year?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Well, best of luck and keep that poetry flowing with you. Great job.

Student:
This is Just Kids by myself, Emily Johnson.
The warm ocean breeze brushes against my arms and knees like getting stung by a thousand bees.
But bees seem like smiles and happy trees.
The trees quake and seemed to say, "Stay with me and dream".
As bright eyes kids, we fit under the stars that gleam,
Wondering why can't we just stay out here and blow off a little more steam?
But the alarm, she rings a little different this time when the original bee stings,
Signaling that the school bell still dings and dings and dings.
A constant goal of one day receiving a wage.
You're just kids stop thinking about that at this age.
But no, go pick out a career that determines every last page.
We get burnt out and caught up as you cry,
Trying to explain to these authority figures that we really do try.
But these feelings sit in our consciousness like a little white lie.
We come home and do our work as if put under a spell or potion,
Then lay in bed, longing for sounds of the ocean.
Not so ready to wake up in the morning and go through the exact same motion.

Anthony Godfrey:
Emily, tell me about the poem that you recited today.

Student:
I wrote a poem called Just Kids and it's about the pressures of being a young student and like having so much pressure to be older than you are and growing up so fast.

Anthony Godfrey:
I thought it had a really nice cadence and flow to it. Is there a favorite phrase or favorite imagery in that poem?

Student:
Well, I really liked the bees stinging part. Bees sting because when I was younger I got stung by a lot of bees. So it's kind of cadence to that. Just like I feel back to my childhood. And it can be a good thing too because bee stings, like smiles, can feel so many things. So I really liked using that phrase.

Anthony:
Yeah. And you were able to really evoke the sound of a bell ringing and the day going on and on and on. What was the phrase you used?

Student:
The school bell still dings and dings and dings.

Anthony Godfrey:
And the way you paused when you read, when you recited it and all of that, you did a very nice job on that. What does poetry mean to you, reading it and creating it?

Student:
I kind of created it. I was having a really hard time with school and I just not doing well mentally. And it was like 2:00 AM and I was like, there's a poetry thing coming up. I should write something. So it like really was just raw emotion that I just put on paper. It was a lot of feelings.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's obvious that it really came from a place of personal experience. Okay. Thank you.

Stay with us. When we come back, we'll talk with one of the judges. She'll tell us what makes a poetry slam performance rise above the rest.

Break:
It is one of the most prestigious academic achievement programs available for high school students. And we're proud to say, it's coming back to Jordan School District. We're talking about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which will be located at West Jordan High School. The IB Program supports personal and academic achievement for students at the very highest level. IB diploma courses take place during a student's junior and senior year in high school. All sophomores are invited to consider the IB Program for next year. There are no prerequisites for IB and interested middle school students can start preparing. Students with the IB diploma have a better chance at getting into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. For more information, or to find out if your teen is a good candidate for IB, visit http://ib.jordandistrict.org, or call West Jordan High School.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here at South Jordan Middle School talking with Cindy Mitchell, the librarian here, and also personally in charge of the Poetry Out Loud competition. Tell us a little bit about that.

Cindy:
So Poetry Out Loud originally is a national competition for performance poetry, where you memorize an official poem from their collection and then compete, based on your interpretation and recitation of the poem. Here at South Jordan Middle, however, we are focused on original poetry performance. So most of the students that entered have written their own poems, and then we've given them a forum. So it's a little Poetry Slam without all the interaction from the audience and a little bit of Poetry Out Lous.

Anthony Godfrey:
How do students sign up to participate?

Cindy:
This was totally at their own discretion. They just came by and filled out a slip and if they could fit in. So what we did was we had three weeks of competition. Each week for the first three rounds, we had new poems each of those weeks and we choose the top three from each week to perform today. We had nine original poets perform, and we didn't have as many performance poets. So we only had five performance poems today.

Anthony Godfrey:
And how long has this been going on at South Jordan Middle?

Cindy:
This is our first year. And it's going to be more after this. I really enjoyed it. I have to tell you, I've been playing with this idea for about four years or so. And this year, since it was such a different year, I decided I'm just going to do it. We need something for kids who want to perform. And April is National Poetry Month. I couldn't put my magnetic poetry on my wall. I have a gigantic blank wall in the library, and I had magnetic quote, quote, quote, unquote, poetry, ready to go on that wall. And I couldn't do that. So I thought, I'm just going to dive in. We're going to do Poetry Out Loud.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I think it's exciting for students to have the chance to do this. And one of the great skills we try to teach students is self-expression and being thoughtful, introspective about how they're feeling and how to express that. And poetry does a great job of doing that.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think if you get a chance to listen to some of the poems, you'll see that they basically come from a very personal space and that the kids are talking about what is important to them right now. And that's what I loved about it. I don't think that these students are just good for middle school poets. I think they are really good at poetry.

Anthony Godfrey:
I would agree. Great stuff, from the heart and definitely reflective of their experience right now.

Cindy:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Lots of these kids were really passionate about the poems that they performed. How did that make you feel?

Cindy:
As the librarian, I don't interact with them necessarily on a daily basis, like in the classroom and especially not as their Language Arts teacher. So for me to know that they are willing to come and be so open and raw in this situation was really important for me, because I think that means they also trust me, and that's not necessarily something that I know most of the time. So I really appreciated them being willing to come and share. And it helps me remember that middle school kids, kids at any age, have deep feelings and we need to respect those feelings.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, congrats on putting together a great event that allows students to express themselves and keeps poetry moving forward into the next generation.

Cindy:
Well, thank you. And thank you for coming. We appreciate you coming and sharing a poem with us too.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you. We're here with Brenda Johnson at South Jordan Middle School who has taught a number of the students. She and I were able to judge in the Poetry Out Loud competition.

Brenda:
Yes, indeed.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you taught them Creative Writing in seventh grade.

Brenda:
Some of them, yes. I took on the Creative Writing for a year and I got to teach a lot of the kids that performed today.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what it feels like to have taught them a year or two ago, and now get to see them perform their poems.

Brenda:
A lot goes into my feelings watching this because when they were in seventh grade, they were just little kids. They were just tiny, and to see them develop and be passionate throughout the year that I had them and develop lot of skills that they get to perform two years later. It's validating in a lot of ways for them. More than anything, to see that their efforts a couple of years ago came through somewhere else and they were able to get some credit and some performance skills to reflect the things that they were writing them when they were younger.

Anthony Godfrey:
I was impressed that they were able to perform poems that they'd written themselves in front of peers with such confidence. That's not an easy thing to do.

Brenda:
It isn't, but I think that as they have developed through the writing process, and having opportunities to perform their emotions. And I think that a lot of the COVID consequences are playing out with them. They're soulful, they're thoughtful, and they are definitely expressing themselves in ways that I've never seen before. So to have an avenue to voice their thoughts and voice their feelings and get through kind of some of their anger, I think it's kind of a wonderful thing for them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I think it's a good self-care skill, just to be thoughtful about how you're feeling and trying to find a way to express that and articulate it.

Brenda:
Absolutely. And I think that poetry is almost a forgotten part of our language. And to see it still alive and these kids and have them be so passionate about it. And to perform it for the first time ever, because they've never done those kinds of things. It's kind of fun. It really is beautiful.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is. It's rewarding. And I got goosebumps more than once, I have to admit.
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see out there.

Show Audio Transcription

They are a source of strength, kindness and compassion for students, always ready and willing to help in any way they can. We are talking about school counselors.

On this episode of the Supercast, find out what happens when the Superintendent joins in on a big surprise for some of these dedicated employees. Employees who had no idea they were about to receive the honor of a lifetime.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. There are a source of strength, kindness, and compassion for students, always ready and willing to help in any way they can. We're talking about school counselors on this episode of the super cast. Find out what happens when I joined in on a big surprise for some of these dedicated employees, employees who had no idea, they were about to receive the honor of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
We are here at Fort Herriman Middle School with Allie Barson, Counselor of the Year for the State of Utah. Allie, how does that feel?

Allie:
Pretty amazing.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's great to have your family here. You have a ton of support, and I saw a standing ovation here in the Media Center for you. Obviously, the school really appreciates what you do.

Allie:
We have an amazing school here.

Anthony Godfrey:
So I saw that your team was right there beside you. Also, tell me about working with the team here at Fort Herriman.

Allie:
So I have an amazing team of counselors. We work really well together and they just are always thinking of the best thing for students and how we support the students and the teachers and the entire school.

Anthony Godfrey:
I was talking with your principal on the way in, and he told me all about all the things you're doing with social, emotional learning.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about that.

Allie:
So that's definitely our passion here. We love to support the kids in that way. So truthfully, a huge part of it is the teachers that are very supportive and are teaching lessons in their class. We have a whole curriculum that we do every TA and we have our leaderships groups that also create lessons for our students. So it's pretty amazing.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you like most about being a counselor?

Allie:
I love watching the kids grow, so that's why I love middle school specifically because they grow and change so much throughout those years. Watching them just come into their own and figure out who they are is just so incredible to watch.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great way of putting it. I loved it as a middle school teacher and principal as well. You just, you get to see such growth from seventh to ninth grade and working with that group of students, you get to see them move forward.

Allie:
Yeah, it's pretty amazing. I actually ran into one of my used to be students and she's now graduating. So it was so great to be able to hear what she's doing and her plans for college and everything.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks again for all your great work. We need counselors more than ever. Thank you so much.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here at Copper Hills High school with the Utah School Counselor Association, Rookie of the Year, Derek Bennett. Derek, congratulations.

Derek:
Thank you. It really is an honor. I'm humbled and grateful. Really.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you are Rookie of the Year. How long have you been a counselor?

Derek:
This is my fourth full year as a counselor, all in Jordan District, all here at Copper Hills.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wonderful. What made you want to be a counselor?

Derek:
You know, ultimately I transitioned from actually working in drug treatment and college athletics to wanting to have a greater impact with teenagers. It's for those formative years and realistically, those are some of the best years of somebody's life. I wanted to have an impact during that crucial time, academically, emotionally, socially, and help students transition into adulthood.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the unique things that are happening here at Copper Hills High School?

Derek:
Yeah, at Copper Hills we work hard to ensure every student feels college and career ready. We did that in English. Myself and another counselor have gone to classes and worked in Spanish to help those students who may have English as a second language. We do CCRS in Tongan and we have all that posted on our website so that they have resources here. Mr. Groethe, one of our administrators and I created a program called Project Z. That's where we take all the students who are skipping school, not going to class, not using, you know really the opposite of what we call it to benefit their academics. And we take them and we talk about a TED talk where we talk about something that's going on in the world, because we want them, those students who might fall through the cracks, to feel like they're welcome here at Copper Hills as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say to someone who's considering becoming a counselor?

Derek:
I'd say go for it. Absolutely. Everything in life, you know, has a reason and a purpose. And if your purpose and reason is to succeed professionally, you are to be a counselor, absolutely go for it. There's so many people that you can benefit; faculty, administration, yourself, your family, and most importantly, the students.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're Rookie of the Year and you're Department Chair. And I got a sense there's a real feeling of of being a team here at Copper Hills.

Derek:
Absolutely. When I was asked to be Department Chair last year, I made it a point to have it be a team. You know, we're not just a department. We truly are a team. My emails start with the morning Team, Hello Team, Happy Friday Team. And really, that's something that's permeated through these two years. We do team activities once a month where it's a team building exercise, and it can go from everything from miniature golf in the hallways to talking about how to pronounce Mexican-American names or Polynesian names. Really, we try to be inclusive. The team here is fantastic. We have eight solid and quality counselors, along with the wonderful support staff. But realistically, you know, I wouldn't want to change my team for anybody else.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let me know. the next time miniature golf in the hall is happening.

Derek:
We have we have Corn Hole coming up, not this Friday, but next Friday. You're welcome to join.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, we're sure glad to have you here at Copper Hills and Jordan School District. And I know that your team and the students appreciate it. So thanks for everything you're doing.

Derek:
Thank you very much. It's a great day to be a Grizzly!

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. We'll be back with more right after this break.

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

Anthony:
We're here at Riverton high school with the Team of the Year from the Utah School Counselor Association. In fact, Jordan School District swept all the awards this year, which is really exciting. Normally we know it's award season in the entertainment industry, but it's also award season in the education industry. And we're really excited for this team. So I want to go around, they're all holding their hardware, by the way, kind of over their heart or close up against their chest, because they are really excited about this award and very deserving of this award. It's really exciting. We're going to start with Brian here. Tell us what do you love most about being a counselor?

Brian:
Just like working with students. A lot and just getting to know the community. I love the Riverton community and it's a great school and a great team to come in and serve the students with.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you, Holly?

Holly:
I enjoy being a counselor because it's the one thing that when you go home at the end of the day, you know, you've done something good.

Anthony Godfrey:
Katelyn.

Katelyn:
I love advocating for my students. I think the counseling group are one of the only people that can really advocate for a student with counseling. So I love doing that.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you, Kristen?

Kristen:
I always feel it's a privilege to work with our youth because they're our future. Listening to what their goals and aspirations are, and then trying to provide them with resources to attain them. I just think, what a better gift and a privilege to be a counselor to be able to do that. So, everyday I come to school, I'm just grateful to be part of  the Riverton community and team.

Anthony Godfrey:
And how about you, Amy?

Amy:
I really enjoy the relationships that I build with the students. That's the best part of the job for sure. And then also, we have the great team and I love to work with our coworkers.

Anthony Godfrey:
Natalie.

Natalie:
I'm trying to think of things that not everybody has already said, but I just really love working with kids and our job is unique in that sometimes you're there for emotional support. Other times you're talking with schedules and graduation or guidance and post-secondary endeavors and you know, where they want to go to college. Just being able to be there and support students and in all those different ways. It's just really fulfilling and I love our community and I love our students.

Anthony Godfrey:
So how does it feel to work on the Team of the Year?

Natalie:
Every single person here is a true professional. So I love being on this team.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, we love having this team here. Congratulations and honor well-deserved. And even though I had nothing to do with it, I'm really going to enjoy it for a long time.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with the Officers of the Utah School Counselors Association. I'll let them introduce themselves.

Officer:
I'm Hillary Emer, I am the president this year for USCAP. I'm Kate Staker, I am the elementary vice president elect and the award's chair. I'm Shauna Walker and I am the president elect this year.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about this awards season for counselors.

Officer:
Jordan School District swept the awards.

Anthony Godfrey:
If I'm not mistaken, we did, which I don't know that that's ever happened in all the years I've been involved. We were looking back at the historical records. So I guess this was a first for the association and pretty cool.

Officer:
I obviously am very excited being a Jordan District Counselor, but I do have to say I wasn't a part of the process. It was a very honest format and we, the counselors that were on the committee, were totally unbiased and were just during districts.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's awesome. And what would you say to anyone who's considering being a counselor out there?

Officer:
I think it's the greatest job. Honestly, this is the job I wanted to be when I grew up. So since high school I always kind of thought about being a teacher and then I discovered psychology and school counseling put these two things together. And so since high school, I kind of knew this was the route I wanted to take and really geared my career path toward that. So it's awesome for me because I am living what I wanted to be.

Officer:
Yeah, it's very, very rewarding. You put in a lot of hard work to really help these kids. And when you see their successes, it's just amazing. I love being a counselor. I love working with kids. I could actually retire, but I love my kids. And so when they come in or a parent tells me, "Hey, we appreciate all you've done." Just met with a parent this morning. And they were grateful for the solutions I offered. That totally makes my job worthwhile and being at Herriman High, when kids walk across the stage and get their diploma, I absolutely love it. So I just love working with kids. So being a counselor is great because you can work with them on a different level than you do as a teacher where we see a great benefit to students and honestly, everyone in the school and community from the amazing work that our counselors do.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for supporting counselors in their work. And thanks for the work that you were individually doing in your schools. We couldn't do anything that we do without you, so thank you very much.

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

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