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It is an entirely new approach to teaching students how to read and succeed. On this episode of the Supercast, find out how Jordan School District’s Literacy Launch program is already helping students learn to read at higher levels than ever before. The results we are seeing in the classroom is bringing some teachers to tears, beyond excited about student success.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It is an entirely new approach to teaching students how to read and succeed. On this episode of the Supercast, find out how Jordan School District's Literacy Launch program is already helping students learn to read at higher levels than ever before. The results we're seeing in the classroom are bringing some teachers to tears, beyond excited about their student success. We're talking with Mandy Thurman and Michelle Lovell about literacy and our Literacy Launch in Jordan School District. There's nothing I'm more excited about. Tell me how it's going. First of all, we started this piloting last year. Just tell us where we are right now. How does it feel?

Michelle Lovell:
Well, we are really excited about the progress that we've made. And as far as we know, every school in Jordan School District has jumped in. Every elementary school has jumped in and already started in this process. And we're hearing great things from schools.

Anthony Godfrey:
We certainly are, and I'm hearing a lot of positives as well. It's a lot of hard work. Teachers are putting in a ton of effort. Our coaches are working really hard. We have our administrators on board and part of the effort as well. And we also have a lot of ESP employees or our classroom assistants who are involved in helping provide support. So everyone's diving in and working really hard and great things are already happening, even though the training district-wide only started a few months ago, this last summer.

Mandy Thurman:
Right, we trained nearly 1200 teachers, every K-6th grade teacher received two full days of training. We wanted them to really understand the why of everything that we were doing, the data that led us to this decision, and then what it was that would look different in their classrooms this year. I think teachers were nervous at first and had a lot of anxiety. But, like Michelle said, they've just jumped right in, given it a try, and now we're really hearing positive things from them.

Anthony Godfrey:
What I keep hearing is just how connected people feel to the program once they see the results from even just the initial implementation of what's been put in place.

Michelle Lovell:
I have been visiting with several of our schools just recently. What we've been hearing is most of them are in at least the first or second cycles of instruction. They're seeing kids move and change, gain skills. We're just seeing some excitement happening in the District.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, the training happened this summer, as you described, it was two in-person days, one day of virtual instruction and then a day just to work with your team or independently to be ready to implement the program this year. You talked about the intervention cycles. That's a 15 day cycle. Tell me what that looks like for a student. What happens at the beginning? What happens during that cycle? And then what happens right before the next one is in place?

Mandy Thurman:
So we start with the Acadience information that we get. That's our statewide assessment that we use in Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and we're also now starting to use fourth through sixth grade. We use that information to identify students who might have some struggles with reading. From there, we do more diagnostic testing and both phonological awareness and phonics to really identify what skills it is that each individual student needs. Then teachers work as an entire grade level, not just individual classes, but they group those students on the grade level, according to the very targeted, specific skill that each student needs. Then for a 30 minute window of time, every day, during that 15 day cycle, they receive really targeted, specific instruction on the skill that they need. After those 15 days, we re-look at the data, we reassess the kids and then we regroup them based on what they need at that point in time. So it's very fluid. Kids are constantly moving and growing and then moving into the new groups that they need.

Anthony Godfrey:
What I love about that is first of all, that it's targeted instruction that is matched up with the exact skills that the student needs to improve in. The other is that it's on a regular basis, that students are regrouped and assigned based on the skills that they still need. In the past, students have been assigned to a group for a very long period of time and really couldn't essentially test their way out of that group and increase their skills once they were ready to do that. So I love that things are moving so quickly for students and they're able to advance as a result. Tell me a little bit about what parents should be watching for with their students who are in elementary.

Michelle Lovell:
So there may be some changes that parents see. One of those changes will be that they won't see a guided reading level come home. Kids are no longer grouped by a level of the alphabet. So we used to say, kids are reading on a level F or a level J, but now the students are grouped based on a needed skill. So a teacher may say to parents, your student is working on learning the long vowel, silent E pattern in reading, or your student is learning long vowel patterns, long vowel teams, or learning how to break apart multisyllabic words. So it's more targeted instruction. 

The other thing that parents may see is a difference in spelling. They may not get a traditional spelling test where kids just memorize a list of unrelated words, because we know that's not the most effective way to teach spelling. Instead, kids will learn word patterns so that they can spell any word that has that word pattern. So it will be a little bit of a shift and some things that parents can really do to help support their kids, one teacher put it, I think so beautifully. She said, “we need to be the tour guides of the world.” 

There are two pieces of reading. One part is we have to be able to get words off the page. We have to teach kids to decode, but then the other part is kids have to know what those words mean. They have to have some background knowledge and they have to have some of that information as well. So when those two things come together, when we can decode, and we know what those words mean, now we have reading comprehension. So what parents can do is be that tour guide of the world. They can read with their kids and talk about the vocabulary words that are in books. They can talk about that background knowledge. They can have experiences with the kids talking about plants that are in the yard or talking about experiences they're having as they're making meals, or as they’re visiting places and helping kids develop that really rich background knowledge that is so critical for all learners.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great reminder that reading really connects us to all other kinds of learning and allows us to experience really anything. So great reading skills are so essential for students to be successful in the future, but also to feel successful now and to feel really good about what they're doing in school. The other thing to keep in mind is that, as you've pointed out, K-3 is really the initial focus, but this is something that teachers at the upper elementary levels have also been trained on. What's wonderful about that is that even students who have gotten past third grade still missing some skills are able to fill those gaps.

Mandy Thurman:
Yeah, absolutely. We know that there are many of those kids right now. We use the saying, ‘in the younger grades we learned to read so that in the upper grades, we can read to learn’. Really, by third grade, that's where we want kids so that they have those foundational skills to decode the words on the page and be able to actually read the words. In the upper grades, what we're really working at is the content. Now they need to be able to read to access their science or their social studies and to make sense of what they're reading. But we know that we still have kids in those grades that don't have the full capability of decoding all the words. So we have some curriculum in place for the first time teaching in the classroom, as well as this intervention process that we talked about, that those kids in those upper grades will participate in as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
And the results are really, really exciting. I've heard from people at every level, K-6, talking about how exciting it is. Not just to feel like they know what needs to happen next in ways that they didn't before, but just seeing how their kids feel in their class about the success that they've experienced. The confidence that it gives them, as you said, to access all kinds of other knowledge. Because they say to themselves, ‘Hey, I'm a successful reader, and I know I can get better.’ There's a sense of efficacy that comes with that. ‘I know that I wasn't getting it, and now I am. And it's my effort that got me there.’

Michelle Lovell:
One of the things that we've also done is we've increased the classroom instruction. So teachers, not just intervention, but in their daily instruction are focusing more on the science of reading. They're focusing on teaching kids those spelling patterns and those word patterns, that decoding process that they need. It's been fun because one group of kindergarten teachers was excited because they had found when they did their first Acadience test, just with the increase in tier one instruction, the classroom instruction, that they had almost their whole class scoring above level. They started out at the very beginning of the year with about half of the class below level, but by the first Acadience test, all but three in each class had moved to above level. So they were just excited to see that happening, and it's been fun to watch.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does it make you wish a little bit that you could be in the classroom and experience it firsthand with your own students?

Mandy Thurman:
Yeah, absolutely. I think what's happened is really an empowering process, empowering teachers, empowering students. I think it would be really exciting to be back in the classroom and try some of these things ourselves.

Anthony Godfrey:
I know that this has been a ton of work for both of you. You provided how many trainings this summer?

Michelle Lovell:
I think at this point it's been 18 trainings?

Mandy Thurman:
I think we're at 21. We did 16 over the summer. 32 full days in the summer and I think we've done four additional rounds.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's been a huge push after a very difficult year and I commend you for your work. There's also a great support structure for teachers to be sure that we're helping them through the implementation process.

Michelle Lovell:
We have a structure set up to support teachers where every teacher, after each Acadience window, spends half day with a teacher specialist, and with their administrator, with an area superintendent. Going through student data, making sure students are grouped correctly, asking any questions that they may have, making sure that that they feel good about the lessons and that they're seeing that kind of growth. It's been really exciting to be in those meetings with the teachers as we're going through that process and providing that support that teachers really need and desire.

Anthony Godfrey:
I’ve heard such great things about the teacher specialists and the support that they've provided, and the coaches that are out there helping teachers. So it's really not just a team of teachers working together at a grade level, but it's all of the support around them. I really can't thank you enough for putting that in place and, and being such a great support to teachers after that initial training and implementation.

Mandy Thurman:
Well, thank you and we just want to thank you for all the support that's allowed us to get to this point. Without your support and your enthusiasm and passion behind early reading, I don't think we could have done what we’ve done.

Michelle Lovell:
I agree with that 100%, thank you. I agree we have some phenomenal teachers, coaches, teacher specialists, and AOSs, administrators, yourself. Thank you so much for what you are doing for kids.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a really exciting effort and I can't wait to see where it takes us. Thank you both very much for the time and for all your great work.

 Stay with us. When we come back, we'll head into a classroom at Heartland Elementary School, where the new approach to teaching literacy is leading to some exciting outcomes in reading.

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:
We’re here with Leslie Fiskell, 3rd grade teacher at Heartland Elementary. Thanks for spending time with me. 

Leslie Fiskell:
Thank you for having me here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit from a third grade teacher's perspective, what it's like to be a part of this literacy launch. I know you've been doing it since last year when Heartland started to pilot the program.

Leslie Fiskell:
Well, I find it exciting because we have three programs we're using. We're doing 95%, Really Great Reading and Heggerty. We're teaching a lot of phonics and the kids are learning a lot about reading.

Anthony Godfrey:
How does this feel different from reading instruction for you as a teacher in comparison to how it felt before these programs were put in place?

Leslie Fiskell:
Before these programs you were putting your own reading lessons together. I don't believe it was maybe as systematic and explicit. This program has a scripted lesson for you and the kids have their manipulatives and things they use. So from a teacher, as far as preparation, there really is very little. And for the students, they have things to help them engage in the learning. 

Anthony Godfrey:
For the listeners, explain what a manipulative is.

Leslie Fiskell:
Okay, well, they have letter tiles. The letter tiles could be, you know, it's the letters, the vowels, and then, long vowels. So there are tiles they use to make words. It also comes with syllable words, little boards where they can write the syllables, and it's just a good, good program.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it allows them to physically engage with tiles and arrange syllables and sounds together. So that's a deeper level of engagement to be able to physically be part of the learning.

Leslie Fiskell:
It is. It's a lot better than just here's your whiteboard and marker, and you write a word. This breaks the word apart. It shows them how the word comes together. And then of course they can write it. 

Anthony Godfrey:
It really reemphasizes that there are components to words that come together. Sounds and letters that come together to form words.

Leslie Fiskell:
Yeah. Phonemes, the sounds and how those sounds come together to make the words. I think perhaps we were lacking in that area before we weren't teaching phonemes. I'm not sure we knew about phonemes, you know, but now we do.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does it feel like you're able to address more specific student needs rather than just generally improving reading? Focusing in on a very specific skill that they need to become a better reader?

Leslie Fiskell:
I think the Really Great Reading program, is that the only one we're talking about or can we talk about the other ones? The Really Great Reading program really addresses the whole class. So you might be learning long vowels but maybe on your own level in your skills group, you might be doing 95% and that's where you're really targeting that child's need. But all of them together they're connecting, and when those kids can make that connection, you know, we're finger stretching. In 95% we're finger stretching and Really Great Reading and all of the programs are connecting. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You’re finger stretching, tell me about finger stretching.

Leslie Fiskell:
Well, that's our sounds, our phonemes. We're counting our phonemes. How many phonemes in a word. So if it's like talk, it would be t, a, l, k, so you'd have four phonemes. So the students are learning that. And again, they're engaged because there's an action there.

Anthony Godfrey:
I tried the Heggerty instruction. I've been in kindergarten classrooms and gone through that with students. It's really interesting just how engaged they are and how focused they are when there's that physical component, where you move your hands along with the syllable and ask them to put that together in a word. It's just really quite something to see those young students latch onto it.

Leslie Fiskell:
They have their choppers. It's engaging to pull out your choppers, those are your hands. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, exactly. It's really exciting to see. What do you think it's like for students at this point compared with previous instruction they've received in literacy?

Leslie Fiskell:
Well, I think it's exciting for the students that are really catching on. I mean, everyone's catching on at some point, but to be able to answer those questions, we just all do it together. They're engaged, they have their manipulatives, their letter tiles I should say,  that they're making their words. I think it's very beneficial for the students because they're learning the rules of our language and how to read.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you like most about teaching reading?

Leslie Fiskell:
Well, that's a big question, right? Right now I've got to tell you I'm loving our programs. I absolutely love Really Great Reading. It's my favorite. The reason I like it is because I'm learning too. Who knew why was was spelled w a s? Now I know. I'm this old and I know. It's the schwa, it’s flexing. So I love Really Great Reading and I love it for them because I think if you can learn all that stuff at a young age, you're going to be a great reader.

Anthony Godfrey:
Absolutely. Schwa flexing is something I haven't talked about enough, obviously, because flex, flex, flex to the schwa. It's going to stick with me. I really appreciate the time that you've taken and I love that you're focused on learning as a teacher. Those who are not in the classroom may not, let me back up a little bit. I know that the central part of being a great teacher is learning and I admire you for being so enthusiastic about learning something new, even though you've been teaching reading for a long time.

Leslie Fiskell:
Right. I will tell you, and I thought I was doing a good job teaching reading, but I am doing a much better job now with these programs.

Anthony Godfrey:
Outstanding. Thanks for all your hard work.

Leslie Fiskell:
Okay, thank you.

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

 

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He was a professional musician who once toured with some big-name bands like Dixie Chicks, Survivor and Lynyrd Skynyrd. On this episode of the Supercast, we hear about one man’s path from the professional music stage to teaching in the classroom. Find out how Brian Anderson’s career in rock ‘n roll, led him to the classroom.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Join us as we go to South Jordan Middle School to visit a teacher who traded in their recording studio for a classroom.

We're here at South Jordan Middle School with Brian Anderson. Just from the looks of what's sitting around him,iIt's going to be a really interesting interview. But first, Brian, thanks for taking the time. 

Brian Anderson:
You're welcome, thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about your teaching career before we get into all the other stuff.

Brian Anderson:
Well, I definitely have an interest in working with kids and when I came back from doing a little stunt at chiropractic school, I drove the school bus. When driving the school bus, I did some field trips, when doing the field trips I met some teachers. Well, when I met the teachers and I met the students, it just started filling my heart, that I wanted to kind of be a teacher and represent that somewhere. So I started subbing. I started subbing with the Jordan School District and after subbing for four years or so, I looked into getting into the program through, at that time it was ARL, it’s changed a couple of times. I found a charter school that allowed me to teach a few classes there at AISU. I taught audio production, songwriting, photography, film, and a few things like that. They went out of business, so I went back to driving some more bus and, I don't know, this is just a fluke, I went in to check on some insurance stuff at the district and my heart just said, go talk to somebody, see if there's any openings right now with teaching here. I asked if I could speak to someone who was over hiring and they said, yeah, go talk to this person. And the person that they sent me to was actually the wrong person, but that person knew Nicole and said, I think she's looking for someone who might fit your background, cause I have a digital media background.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the wrong person became the right person. 

Brian Anderson:
That’s pretty much what happened. She called her on the phone and said, I've got this guy.” She said “Have him send an application, I'll interview him tomorrow.” She interviewed me. It worked out and here I am teaching here at SoJo Middle School. 

Anthony Godfrey:
How long have you been at SoJo now?

Brian Anderson:
So this is my first year. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow! Great. So this is a recent journey? 

Brian Anderson:
I came right about October in the middle of that pandemic thing and took over for someone who had an opportunity to teach somewhere else. I picked it up from there and had a lot of great help with my coworkers. Shout out to them, they're amazing. Everybody here has just been really helpful and great.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the music because that's the focus of why we're here is to learn a little bit more about that aspect of your career as well.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, well, I wrote songs and did little things in my bedroom, but I didn't realize what I was doing, it was just for fun. 

Anthony Godfrey:
At what point in your life did you start doing this? 

Brian Anderson:
I did that like at 10 years old, 12 years old. I'd play drums with ice cream buckets and we couldn't afford that stuff. I just did stuff that I don't know, MTV influenced me a lot. MTV then was a lot of the eighties acts. So if you remember the eighties much, they all sang high. So I thought, well, I need to sing high too.

Anthony Godfrey:
They did all sing high and then it would modulate and they'd go even higher at the end to give that an emotional punch. What was some of the eighties music that inspired you initially to pursue it? Who were you trying to imitate?

Brian Anderson:
Well, some of my influences, hands down, were Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Europe, and then some of those rock bands like Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake and even Survivor. Some of the guys that I ended up playing music with later on.

Anthony Godfrey:
Hmm. You played okay. Wow. You played okay. We have a lot of layers to go through here. That's very exciting. So those were some of the bands that inspired you and tell me where it went from there.

Brian Anderson:
So I really didn't know how to pursue this thing. I was clueless. No one did music in my family or my relatives didn't do it. So I just started playing in bars, that's where you could play. There wasn't really anybody that hired anybody. I tried to write more music and slowly started having a little repertoire of songs. Then I ran into this company that I heard about that said, come down and try to promote yourself and raise some money for your business. And I thought, well, ‘Hey, if Starbucks goes there and these other companies go there to raise money, I can be a business.’ So they wanted a lot of money to enter this thing. It wasn't a contest, it just cost a lot of money to go. My dad's never given me a dollar and I didn't have $10,000 and that’s what it costs.

I said, “Dad, I really want to go to this thing. I think I can maybe raise some money to help me get my music started. What do you think?” And he didn't say anything and I'm pretty sure it was dead at that point. And the next day came to me with a $10,000 check saying “Go knock it out, go try it.” That blew me away because my dad doesn't give anyone any money. You know, you make your own money. I was able to go there as an artist, as a musician, I played on stage, raised quarter million dollars and came home, was able to pay him back as $10,000 and moved to Nashville and started knocking doors.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. So you raised that money with that performance? Talk about a high stakes interview.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, didn't see that coming. You know, people came out of the woodwork. I met my music attorney there. My first manager I met there, they knew contacts and as most things happen in most situations in life where you meet someone and then it rolls into something else by contacts and their contacts, etc.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what age were you when this happened?

Brian Anderson:
I believe I was 22.

Anthony Godfrey:
And for your dad to just do that out of the blue, that's tremendous.

Brian Anderson:
I couldn't believe it. It was honestly one of those amazing, impossible things that I just don't understand. I don't know what went through his head when I asked. I could only imagine.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Zero to 60. That's like, you know, you're on your own, you gotta do your thing, and here's $10,000 to pursue your dream. That's very inspiring.

Brian Anderson:
He must've thought he wouldn't have gotten it back. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Sure, he was saying goodbye to that $10,000, but, wow. That's really incredible.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. He's a great guy, amazing. I’m just real blessed with good parents.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you, you raise the money, you get an attorney, you move to Nashville. What happens next?

Brian Anderson:
So I'm down in Nashville and I have a manager who's interested in me at that point. I'm ready to move at a hundred miles per hour and they want me to go 10 miles per hour. It was really difficult. Long story short, it didn't work out. I just wanted to move faster than they wanted me to. They wanted me to sit down and write songs for like three years. I'm like, I've got songs now, let's go. So I found some other managers that were a better move for me. They led me to a contact in Sony, the guy that signed the Dixie Chicks worked with them and a few other acts, got in contact with me and we decided to work together and see where that would go. Even though that didn't lead to some great famous career, nor was I even looking for fame, I just wanted to do my music. They helped me a lot and because I was pop country, I got shelved mostly, even though I got to do events and performances with different acts. I got my chops a little more fine tuned, it didn't lead to anything great and I eventually got out of that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Along the way you've got to work with a number of different bands. Let's find out some of the people you've worked with.

Brian Anderson:
Sure, yeah. I went out of that deal into a deal in LA. This guy was more pop rock, and he had contacts with a guy named Jim Peterik, and Jim Peterik is one of the founders of Survivor. I went to his house and we wrote a couple of songs and hit it off. I’ve got that song here, I can show you too. But that song led to a number of concerts and shows and events with some other acts. So I did some stuff with Night Ranger, did some stuff with 38 Special, with Don Barnes, did a show with them at CNN and with Lynyrd Skynyrd. I did an album with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Anthony Godfrey:
You did an album with Lynyrd Skynyrd? So when people say play some Skynyrd, you can just say, I've been there, done that.

Brian Anderson:
I don’t know about that. This album was a project that we did together called The Day America Cried. It happened after the towers fell and we wanted to put together this project that joined America. I was one of the artists on that project. I was able to go to the studio and work with some of these acts. That's where I've met a number of people, some members of Journey, and I did some shows along the way where we would promote this album called The Day America Cried all over the place. That led to small little venues and intimate venues to super large venues that we were able to perform together.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's the largest crowd that you've played for?

Brian Anderson:
I think 18,000.

Anthony Godfrey:
18,000. Wow.

Brian Anderson:
We also opened for Blessid Union of Souls a couple of times. That was fun because they weren't necessarily a rock band, a great group of guys.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're kind of blowing my mind here. You worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, members of Journey. You wrote a song with Jim from Survivor. 

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, Jim Peterik. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Tell me a little bit more about that. Is there a moment where you're sitting down with him thinking, okay don't talk about Rocky III. Don't talk about Rocky III.

Brian Anderson:
Of course, those posters are all over in his house. I have this guitar right here that he gave me for Christmas. 

Anthony Godfrey:
He gave you a guitar for Christmas?

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, this is a guitar he toured with and did stuff with Van Halen and all this stuff. He gave me this as a gift.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Now I just need to clarify, I'm sitting right now with you beside a guitar that was used on stage with Van Halen.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah, when he would play and do all his hits and tours with many artists, right? Because he's the real rock star. This is the guitar he used. I was over at his house one day and we were working on another song and he said, “Hey, Merry Christmas. Here's one of my favorite guitars.” I said, “What? That's amazing. I’ve got to find a way to get this home.” Cause the plane, you know, I already had enough luggage and things, I had to figure out how to get it home, but that wasn't going to be a problem.

Anthony Godfrey:
All you do is throw away whatever you brought with you and this comes home on your lap the whole time. I’d buy a separate airline ticket for that guitar if I had to.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. He's been a big influence in my life on a number of levels. For example, he wrote, with a number of other people, Songwriting for Dummies. He put one of the songs that I wrote on the front cover of it and he put me in the book as well. He featured me in a couple of things with a song I wrote called Empty. So I think that I really owe a lot to him for taking me under his wing and introducing me to a lot of people.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back more stories from the studio and the road.

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.

Brian Anderson:
This is from a big concert we did. You might recognize this song.

Playing recording of Brian Anderson singing The Search is Over by Survivor.

Anthony Godfrey:
This is one of my favorites. I do love this one.

Brian Anderson:
So he had me perform it for him instead.

Anthony Godfrey:
Really? So this is you? ‘Who am I to blame you?’ I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times. I'm not exaggerating.

Brian Anderson:
I told him, do you know how many girls I've met dancing to your song? That was our first thing. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah. I have swayed to this song many, many times.

 I do see some Grammy swag. I noticed your Grammy shirt as I walked in. Tell me a little bit about that.

Brian Anderson:
When I went to the Grammys, they gave me the Grammy bag and stuff like this.

Anthony Godfrey:
You got the swag bag at the Grammys. Wow.

Brian Anderson:
I went there with Jeff McClusky, who was a radio promoter for everyone, Creed, Lifehouse, everyone. We went there with Sheryl Crow and stayed in their booth. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You went to the Grammy's with Sheryl Crow. Like one does, you know.

Brian Anderson:
You know. It was cool being an honorary member of the Grammy in the Schools. So I was a part of that foundation where the job was to create opportunities for high school students to work with professionals, to get real-world experience and advice about how to have a music career. That just wasn't really in schools. So they had me. My role was to talk about the opportunity at different music conventions to students, about their Grammy camps and to try to get the community to push for more music in the schools.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. That's a very worthy cause. Let's bust out this guitar shall we? Sorry. I just, I would love to get a look at that. I'm a big Survivor fan by the way. Yeah. High on You

Brian Anderson:
Oh yeah. So this is it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. May I? This is pretty cool. It's a cream colored fender Stratocaster, isn't it? 

Brian Anderson:
You see how it’s kinda faded a little bit. It’s a wide neck Stratocaster, that's what you'd call it. 

Anthony Godfrey:
A wide neck. Okay. 

Brian Anderson:
You’re touching a guitar there that’s been through quite a few shows.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That feels really good. That is so cool. I can't even believe that.

Brian Anderson:
It’s kind of like performing at the Whiskey a Go Go. They had me play up there.

Anthony Godfrey:
You've played the Whiskey a Go Go? 

Brian Anderson:
I played the Whiskey a Go Go. If you know who's played the Whiskey a Go Go, I think I made a list here. The Doors, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, U2, Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Mötley Crüe.

Anthony Godfrey:
Basically my entire time machine fantasy concert list was played at the Whiskey a Go Go.

Brian Anderson:
Yeah. It was pretty cool to show up there and just be on that stage, you know.

Anthony Godfrey:
Was that you performing, were you performing with a group? 

Brian Anderson:
We were the performers that night.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow. That’s incredible to perform on that stage. 

Brian Anderson:
It was a high, that’s for sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. I feel like we could talk all day. That the stories would just keep unfolding. That is so cool. Well, I'd love to hear a song of yours.

Brian Anderson:
Okay. Well.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about this one.

Brian Anderson:
So as you know, music's not always straight shot up and there's a lot of dynamics in it. One of the times where we weren't sure where things were going with my career, I was traveling to California to do another show with my band. In that car, I'm just thinking, how cool is this, that we're riding to California or driving here. We get to play these shows with some acts and we get to do music for a living. I was just reminiscing on that and I just decided to start writing this song called The Ride. So this is a real acoustic version and I can give you a CD of the more rock version of this.

Brian Anderson singing and playing guitar:

Watching you breathe next to me,
There’s no other place I want to be.
It takes me away to think of you.
I'm holding on, on to you.

Cause I wanna ride,
I wanna ride.
Can you feel it? Can you feel it pass you by?
I wanna ride.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. The crowd goes wild. That's fantastic. That's a hit in my book. That's good stuff. Wow. And just the way that you play, it's obvious that you're very, very skilled. I pick up a guitar and, anyway, it's just so smooth. Well done. That's awesome. So tell me, what advice would you give to parents if their child is maybe interested in music, shows an interest in songwriting, what would you suggest?

Brian Anderson:
I would suggest starting them right away. They may never pursue it, but what it can do for them can open their mind to so many avenues and unlock the doors that might stay shut. That introduced other things that would have never begun because they didn't pursue maybe that passion. It's kind of like math. It's like you might ask yourself, why am I doing this math problem? But it opens up other things inside the mind that might introduce you to be better at something else. I feel that music can connect on so many levels with other people and with yourself and you grow. To have them right away, start doing some kind of lesson on an instrument or even a vocal lesson. Try to get them into songwriting so they can express that talent as a package.

Anthony Godfrey:
There's a lot to be gained, like you said, even if it isn't going to be a career or something that you pursue long term, just from engaging with that and tapping into your creative side. There's a lot of advantage to having that in your life.

Brian Anderson:
Growth can come from that and you would never know it unless you tried to harness it. A lot of it is buried to be honest for me, my music was buried until I was 18. I didn't even know that I really was good at it and could do it until after high school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's been a huge treat talking with you. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed stopping by and hearing your stories. You've been closely connected with a lot of music and artists that I've loved over the years. You've been part of that industry, which is just fascinating to me. So thank you so much for spending the time and for everything you're doing for the students here at South Jordan. We're sure lucky to have you here.

Brian Anderson:
Oh, I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for letting me go down memory lane again.

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

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It is designed to help keep students safe in and outside of school. On this episode of the Supercast, we talk about new technology called “Bark,” which helps to detect signs of things like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation and threats of school violence. Listen and find out how this new technology is already proving successful in saving lives in Jordan School District.

Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It's a program designed to help keep students safe in and outside of school. On this episode of the Supercast, we talk about new technology called BARK, which helps to detect signs of things like cyber bullying, suicidal ideation, and threats of school violence. Listen, and find out how this new technology is already proving successful in saving lives in Jordan School District. We're here today with Angie Rasmussen, our new specialist working with the BARK program here in Jordan School District. Angie, thanks for joining us.

Angie Rasmussen:
Thanks for having me.

Anthony Godfrey:
Most people don't know what the BARK program is. Let's just start off by having you talk just generally about what it's designed to do.

Angie Rasmussen:
Okay. So it is a software that we have monitoring Google accounts in Jordan School District. So parents can buy it themselves to monitor their students on their electronic devices, but we use it for our school purposes to help flag students who may need some extra support.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just as a clarification for our listeners. I want to make sure that everyone understands that this is only monitoring of school accounts. So chats, emails, documents that are submitted through Google docs, that sort of thing, right?

Angie Rasmussen:
Correct. Yes, so it has to be through their my.jordandistrict.org Google account.

Anthony Godfrey:
We have accounts for students in elementary, middle and high schools so really this reaches students of all ages. 

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, it does. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about how the BARK program works.

Angie Rasmussen:
So it has artificial intelligence that will screen or flag anything in these Google documents, chats, emails, that could be concerning. There's different categories like bullying or suicidal ideation, self-harm, violence, among others. It will categorize the alert and it will also say if it's severe or non-severe. Then there is an imminent category, but those are flagged as severe and then they become phone calls as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
So when you go through the program, tell us a little bit about what your interaction is with the alerts and how the process works.

Angie Rasmussen:
So they will take a snippet of what they flag as concerning, and sometimes it's highlighted with certain areas that they're trying to show me, this is what we flagged. Then I can look at it and see the context. I can see if it's two people talking to each other in an email or in a chat and get an idea of what maybe the conversation is. A lot of Google docs are used as journal entries or they will chat in real time with each other on a Google doc, the students will. It’s a way to communicate, so it will come in those formats. A lot of times if they're expressing something that could be concerning to adults, that we want to make those connections with kids and help them to prevent anything from becoming a further situation that either leads to violence or additional suicidal ideation.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now tell me again, the categories were non-severe severe and imminent, correct?

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, that's correct. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you tell us what the process is for dealing with issues in all three categories? 

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes. So non severe, I usually will look at with certain keywords like self-harm or depression, anxiety, because those ones can sometimes be flagged as non severe if they're not using the right words. And so I will still look at those as severe because I want to make sure that I see them. Others will be if there are like two kids who are maybe talking and are joking around and it doesn't have any risk factors to it. I will just document those so I can access them later, but I don't necessarily do anything with it. It's kind of documented. I don't push them to the school is basically what I'm saying.

If it's severe, I can also do that where I kind of look into it and say, oh, this isn't a problem. The example I used was they were playing a game in class and they were talking about this game and she got a high score. Then the kid responded back something about being high and they were talking about the score still, but the program flagged the word high as intoxicated, so that was not necessarily what the context was. So I did not pass that on because it was non-threatening, it was about a game and score.

When it is something that I feel that the school personnel should be aware of and help them to support the student, then I will take the information I have and let the relevant person know whether that's an administrator or a school counselor or a social worker. Then we have some dialogue on how to help the student or support the student, or if they have more questions about how it could be handled, then we can troubleshoot with that. If it's imminent, it is usually a phone call from BARK. So they won't just email me or flag it. They will text me and call me. And if I don't answer, then it's set up to call local authorities for a wellness check.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it can be really an alarm about something that could be happening right away. Have we had a few of those?

Angie Rasmussen:
We have. Since I've been working with the program, which was September 23rd, I've had two where they did call me. One was during school hours on a business day. And then another one was actually over the weekend on a Sunday.

Anthony Godfrey:
Did we get authorities out, parents involved? What happens from there after your call comes from BARK?

Angie Rasmussen:
So I'll take the call and let them know that I'm aware of it, that I'll handle it from there, so they don't dispatch police because then I can look at it. The one during business hours, I worked with the administrators at the school and we got a hold of parents that way. If it's not during business hours and it's an imminent threat, I will call parents directly. If I can't get a hold of them, then I will try to get a wellness check from the police, a non-emergency phone call to go out and visit with the student. But if I can get a hold of the parents and confirm that the student’s safe, then I don't call the police, unless it's something that was further along the line that I would have to do that.

Anthony Godfrey:
So of course, parents are always the first call, and then if we can't reach them, then we involve the police as necessary. 

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, and then I also make sure administration knows, so they can follow up with the families and make sure supports are in place at school afterwards.

Anthony Godfrey:
Right. Because it's not just in the moment that we need to look at that. But when you look at the kind of support that we need to provide for the individual longer-term. Even before you came and we hadn't monitored to that degree, I know that we had some serious situations that we were alerted to by BARK.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, and they did send authorities because we didn't have anyone set up to answer the phone call at the time. I'm familiar with that because I can see that from the past as well, because they had it active for a little bit to test it. It is very helpful in being proactive and preventing emergency situations.

Anthony Godfrey:
You talked about supporting the school and calling them and contacting them about what to do next. That's because you're not just monitoring this, you have a background that helps you really address the problems as well.

Angie Rasmussen:
Correct. So I have been a school counselor since 2008, but also a school administrator. So I can see kind of that mental health side of it, but also the side where administrators are in the building trying to balance and juggle things, but also there to respond if there's crisis situations.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're very fortunate to have you in the position to help filter through the alerts that come in, but also provide support to the parents, administrators, and other authorities that you work with.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, and I envision it as a way to best support families in our communities. So although it comes from a place of education, I think it will help also make those connections in the buildings. If we don't know, students maybe are really seeking those connections in our schools. It's a way to kind of, oh, this person might need an extra check-in or something. They're not on our radar. I don't know them, but I really would like to get to know them and see, you know, who they are.

Anthony Godfrey:
Connecting students to resources as part of taking good care of them. 

Stay with us. When we come back more on the technology that is keeping students safe in and outside of school.

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Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, what would you say parents need to be aware of as they're thinking about monitoring and being aware of their students' communications?

Angie Rasmussen:
As far as we go here at Jordan School District, I think it's coming from a place of care and concern. I think that as a parent myself, whenever another adult from my kid's school reaches out to me, I would feel grateful that there is that other set of eyes, or there is somebody looking out for my kid. I want everyone to know that it's not a gotcha type thing. We're not looking for somebody to get in trouble or looking at their conversations to, you know, do anything that's going to punish them. We're not being punitive, I guess what I'm trying to say. We're trying to have their best interest in mind, and we won't won't share information with other people, only the relevant parties, the adults in the building that are directly associated with those kids. So like, you know, the administrators, or their school counselor. When talking with parents, it's like, these are the people that will know because this is how they can help you. So they know it's not something that everyone knows. I think privacy is a big factor of the whole process. Privacy and not being punitive.

Anthony Godfrey:
No, that's really the combination. It's a support because not every student that needs help will seek it. It's a chance for us to be sure that they have the help and assistance that they need.

Angie Rasmussen:
Luckily students, a lot of times will feel comfortable telling friends in these ways. I mean, they're not talking in person, they're telling each other over these chats or emails. So I think that's still a great thing as long as they can get adult help when it's needed.

Anthony Godfrey:
Right. It's those student interactions with each other that probably produce a lot of the alerts where they're talking to each other, not just writing on their own. I have to admit, I've never thought of the idea of writing someone right within a Google document. That's pretty immediate communication because you don't even have the chance to decide, ‘ok, I've crafted what I'm going to say. Send’ they're just watching you and you type it. So that's real time.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, and I think they think, because we're old, we don't know about it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I just admitted that I’m old enough not to know about it so thank you for the education. Now this isn't a replacement for other things that we do to connect with students, see if they need help, be sure that we're aware of how they're feeling and how they're doing as educators and as parents.

Angie Rasmussen:
Right. It's actually just an additional safety net. So other things that are already in place, even, you know, at home, that doesn't have anything to do with us. We don't regulate at home activities. If they are at home, but using their account for Jordan school, that is still something we would see, and, again, only get involved if it's something we can help with. It's just an additional support that is added as a safety measure. It's a safety net to try and help students out when they might be struggling to connect with someone about something that they need help with.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does the program sometimes over identify issues?

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes. Not sometimes, it always does. So it's nice to have that, to have myself, a human looking at it, to see what the actual conversation could be considered and if it is something that's helpful for a student or not. So, you know, technology is great, but humans are still better. And, families making connections with their families at home is still better than anything else.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a good reminder as well. This isn't someone sitting at BARK central going through all of these emails, this is an automated process. You receive the alerts and then you, as the experienced, well-educated human goes through the results and determines whether there is in fact a problem.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes. And then it gives me the opportunity to collaborate with the professionals in their building, who know the kids potentially, and know the community and know their buildings the best. We can kind of bounce ideas off each other. Like this is the way it looked to me, you know them, do you think this is something that you would find useful to help that student?

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm actually very glad to hear that problems are over-identified and that we have a lot of false positives if you will, because it's much better than missing something.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes. I agree with you a hundred percent. Something may look like an issue and if it's not, that's the best case scenario.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, with nearly 58,000 students, there's a lot to sort through and there's a lot to be aware of. What's interesting to me is that not only are you able to help individual students, but I can imagine that over time, we're going to be able to start to see a pattern and say, ‘Hey, these are some things that students are dealing with. We're starting to see more concerns about this issue or that issue.’ As we look at the alerts that come up from such a large group of students.

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes, it does gather the data. I can look at types of alerts per area too. So I can see if a feeder network has similar issues. You know, if a high school, junior high and elementary system together shares similar issues, we can look at data that shows you that there could be something that administration would want to work on in their school and say, ‘oh, this keeps coming up as a pattern’ and it's showing it's something that you might want to take a look at. What can we do to get something going in your school that might produce positive engagement with students?

Anthony Godfrey:
I really liked that aspect of it. How does it feel to be working with a program like this, having been a counselor and administrator for as long as you have, maybe not using a method like this previously.

Angie Rasmussen:
It's different because again, it's through technology. I find that a lot of the things students talk about are things that I could see them going to their counselor and saying the exact words. I try to put myself in that situation if I were to meet with the student and they told me this, that whatever they're saying, you know, what would I do? Or if it was my own child, what would I do? Then I take that perspective and collaborate with the adults at their school on how to help the student. It's different in that, in that I can reflect before I talk, you know, it's like, it's not happening in real time for me necessarily. So I can see an issue and review my resources and collaborate. When you're in a school, a lot of times things are happening right then in your face, and you don't have as much time to gather composure and think through your different ideas or different ways to help. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. And I think it's exciting to have another way to help students. In the end, really what we're doing is we're trying to improve their lives and sometimes save them. 

Angie Rasmussen:
Yes. That is going to be something I think that down the line, we will notice that these interventions will be life saving.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much. We're so happy to have you in Jordan District doing this work. I really appreciate your efforts to help support our students in our schools and our families. 

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

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You could say it is a rare gem at Herriman High School and it’s giving students a brand-new experience in education. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside the first ever jewelry making class where creativity is coming alive with the creation of one-of-a-kind accessories.

Join us as we head into the classroom with teacher Sommer Baisch and her students.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. You could say it is a rare gem in Herriman High School, and it's giving students a brand new experience in education. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside the first ever jewelry-making class at Herriman High, where creativity is coming alive with the creation of one of a kind accessories.

We're here with Sommer Baisch at Herriman High School. She teaches the jewelry making class, the only one in the District. And even as I was walking in, I talked with a couple of people who told me that kids from other schools wish they could take this class. Tell me about this class.

Sommer Baisch:
So it's a Jewelry I class, so it’s kind of an introduction into basic tools. The jeweler's saw, setting stones with cold connections, so without heat, kind of making all the basic wire components. Just an entry into more advanced techniques, which we go over in Jewelry Making II such as soldering, stone setting. So it's kind of just an introduction class.

Anthony Godfrey:
So a big part of the difference between one and two, whether it's hot or cold and the work that you’re doing?

Sommer Baisch:
Yeah. And also just like to have a smaller class size, in Jewelry II, to be able to manage more kids with fire.

Anthony Godfrey:
So if you introduce fire into the classroom, you definitely need smaller class numbers, for sure. So tell me how long have you been teaching this and what got you into jewelry making?

Sommer Baisch:
So I've been teaching it, this is my fourth year at Herriman. I actually applied at Herriman because there was a printmaking position but it came attached to jewelry making. To be honest, I did not know a ton about jewelry making other than like some intro stuff I went over in college. So it took a lot of like taking workshops, professional development to kind of prepare for teaching this class, but I actually love it. It's so different from any art class that most schools traditionally offer.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you like in particular about teaching this jewelry making class?

Sommer Baisch:
I like that it attracts like the most diverse group of kids ever. Like a lot of kids take Drawing because they're into drawing and they have a style, a lot of kids take Print Making because they want to print on a shirt, but I feel like jewelry is more diverse. I have the football kids next to the kids that also love art. It's a huge range of students that maybe don't necessarily think they're good at art or good at drawing. They think drawing when they think art. Right? So jewelry gives them an opportunity to make something, and be proud of it that maybe they wouldn't feel the same confidence in the drawing or painting class.

Anthony Godfrey:
I find that very interesting because I'm always worried about students who may be interested in something, but are worried they're not good enough to take a class in it, when really the point is to learn how to do something that interests them. So you can come into a jewelry making class with no experience, no skills, and you're able to take them from zero to necklace and in just a few classes.

Sommer Baisch:
Yeah, and that is an interesting thing. We asked that when they start using the jewelry saw, how many of you have used a jewelry saw? No one. So it kind of levels the playing field and it kind of takes the pressure off of students to feel like they have to be like the best. I was in that drawing class where you're always looking over your shoulder, like, ‘oh man, that kid can draw.’ And there's not that vibe in this class. Everybody's willing to just try their best. They're also more willing to take risks because they've never done it before. So who knows if it's gonna work out or not? And I really like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what you've just described is the environment where the most genuine learning takes place.

Sommer Baisch:
For sure. It's total problem solving from start to finish, and hands-on, and it really just taps every area of the brain with learning a new skill, I think.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, absolutely. Tell me about some of the projects, both from this Jewelry Making class or Jewelry Making II, that students will be involved in.

Sommer Baisch:
So in Jewelry I, we start with some shrinky dink earrings. They make wire findings, like ear hooks, jump rings, so they learn really basic skills. They just did a project where they had to saw out around the design in a quarter and cut out some negative space. So they learn how to saw sheet metal. They just learned how to find a ring size, how to go from raw materials, such as copper, nickel, brass, and to make it into a specific design that they came up with. We're about to start enameling, which is melting glass on the surface of metal. That's the only thing that requires heat in Jewelry I.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there will be some enameling?

Sommer Baisch:
Yep, and then we finish with a stone set ring. They learn how to rivet, how to cut out tabs to hold a stone in place. In Jewelry II we do lots of stone settings. So soldering metal together to use a bezel setting for like a natural stone, a natural gemstone.

Anthony Godfrey:
And do you find that a number of students maybe try to make this a little bit more than a hobby, maybe go on Etsy, try to sell some things?

Sommer Baisch:
Yes. I've been told we have some Tik Tok spoon ring famous kids from Herriman that have made spoon rings and have thousands of followers on Tik Tok.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm not close with the spoon ring / Tik Tok community, but where those two worlds overlap, it's exciting that there are some Herriman students that are featured there. That's really cool. I noticed that you've made some terrifying skull earrings yourself.

Sommer Baisch:
Yep. So these are enamel earrings. This is their next project. I try to preview their projects with what I wear. I don’t know if they pick up on it.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a good way to preview, is for them to maybe notice what you're wearing and say, well, guess what you're going to get to make that. Thank you very much for spending the time and for offering this unique opportunity for students. It's obvious that they're all super engaged and really excited about that project. So it's really fun to see. Yeah. Thanks for coming.

Tell me your name and tell me about some of the projects that you've worked on in this class.

Student #1:
This is my ring. I tried to make it as close as I can to bamboo.

Anthony Godfrey:
This is made out of copper? And so did you lay it out and cut it and then shape it?

Student #1:
Yeah,I did. Yeah, I textured it first. I used a striper hammer.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the striper hammer has an edge with grooves in it on one side of the head and the other has kind of pins poking out of it. So why do you use this side of the hammer for that particular job?

Student #1:
I just thought it would look better with my ring because you know, it's bamboo.

Anthony Godfrey:
So does it give it some structure?

Student #1:
Yeah, it just feels better. It just looks better with it. Yeah. That was the first one I did. And then I also did patina, which is the black stuff in between.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. The patina kind of brings out the design of it. Where did you come up with the idea for the design?

Student #1:
The project she gave us was I think, like nature. It was about nature. So that was the first thing that came to mind for some reason. I don't know why, and I just went with it.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what are some of the other projects?

Student #1:
We did make ear wires, and then we made little shrinky dinks to go along with it. Mine are in the case outside. I made a Robin from, you know Teen Titans Go? Yeah. I made Robin from that and I maybe shrunk them down and then we connected them to the ear wire. So they look pretty cool.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let’s go out and take a look in the case right here.

So what would you say to people who were thinking about taking this class?

Student #1:
I enjoy it a lot. It's really fun. I was actually supposed to switch out of it, but I stayed for two weeks because I wanted to make sure. I wanted to search out because I need an art credit, but it was after the ear wires. I was like, yeah, I'm staying.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what is it that you like about the class?

Student #1:
It’s just, it's really fun to make things. She gives us a lot of freedom. These are a lot of them. Mine was, I believe it was, it was somewhere around here. I can’t remember. Oh yeah, it's right there. I wish I colored it in a little bit more though.

Anthony Godfrey:
It looks really good. It looks really good. So you shrink it down?

Student #1:
Yeah. They started off, like, they start off like three times that size. And then when you, when you warm them up in the oven, they shrink down to that size.

Anthony Godfrey:
And were you a bit surprised at what you were able to create?

Student #1:
I didn't think it would look like that. I thought it'd be a little more pale. I didn't color it in as much as I should have.

Anthony Godfrey:
But it turned out better than you thought.

Student #1:
Yeah. A lot better.

Anthony Godfrey:
Which kind of made you want to do more?

Student #1:
Yeah. I was planning on making another, but we, uh, we moved on to rings.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, you're lucky to be able to be in this class. I hear that there are kids from other schools trying to get in, that don't even go to Herriman. So, I think that's a great project and it sounds like you've got a lot of exciting things ahead in this class. Is there a satisfaction that comes from doing something physical and making something where you get to see the result?

Student #1:
Yeah.  I enjoy the end, you know, it's just that little satisfaction of something you created and like, you just feel proud of yourself.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you should. It looks great. So what plans do you have for those earrings?

Student #1:
I really plan on keeping them since they're my very first project and, you know, I just, I really like them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. I think it looks great. All right. Well, thanks for talking with us and enjoy the class.

Sommer Baisch:
So Shiloh wanted to make a spinner ring. It doesn't quite spin, we're still trying to work out the mechanics, but she actually layered metal, which wasn't a requirement. But it turned out really amazing.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow. So is this nickel and copper? I'm cheating because other students told me what materials they were working with. So ultimately, what will this do? Describe that for me, ultimately, what will that do?

Student #2:
It was supposed to spin. This nickel part was supposed to spin around the copper, but it didn't fit quite right, and so it doesn't spin.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is the purpose for that, that you're able to kind of spin it while you're wearing it and kind of fiddle with it?

Student #2:
Yeah, like a fidget something.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think it's really cool. Tell me about the pattern. Is that just leaves?

Student #2:
So there's a leaf right here and then on the front, there's a tiger's head.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, wow. I didn't notice that. Yeah. Leave me alone. I'm a tiger. Well, it looks really good. Are you going to wear it?

Student #2:
I'm not quite sure what went wrong, but it doesn't fit any of my fingers. So I'm probably just going to give it to my mom.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. I'm sure she'll love it. Alright. Well, thanks for talking with me.

Stay with us. When we come back more from the Jewelry Making class at Herriman High School.

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Anthony Godfrey:
We're here in the Jewelry Making class at Herriman High School. Students, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourselves?

Student #3:
I'm Alison.

Student #4:
I'm Ricki.

Anthony Godfrey:
What made you want to sign up for this class Ricki?

Student #4:
I just love wearing jewelry, so I wanted to make some.

Anthony Godfrey:
And how about for you?

Student #3:
I needed another fine arts credit.

Anthony Godfrey:
And was it more than just a credit once you started in the class?

Student #3:
Definitely.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about that.

Student #3:
I don't know. I just kind of showed up and I was like, it's really sick, like making stuff.

Anthony Godfrey:
For listeners at home, sick is good. That's a positive thing. Totally rad in the 1900s would have been the equivalent. This is a sick class. Tell me what’s sick about it?

Student #3:
I have a really great group of friends. And like when you do stuff, that's fun with your friends, everything is fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
Speaking of friends, now that you're working on jewelry, do you have a friend in the diamond business?

Student #3:
Only at Shane Company.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Very good. Well done. So how did you make Harry Styles shrinky dink earrings?

Student #3:
You take a picture and you draw it on a piece of paper and then you take a piece of rice paper, put it over the picture, and then you get a piece of the shrink dink film and then you trace it again and then you scratch it up and color it and put it in a toaster oven. And you're done.

Anthony Godfrey:
So after that process then do you wear these earrings?

Student #3:
Not today, but they're in my room right now.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Very nice. What are some of the things that you've made?

Student #4:
We just finished making rings.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about this ring.

Student #4:
It’s made of nickel and we saw it in the shape we wanted, then we filed it and then bent it.

Anthony Godfrey:
What shape did you put it in here?

Student #4
I did a mountain.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah. I do see that. Okay. Try it on. Let's see how it looks. It looks great. So that's a forefinger ring. Very good. So tell me about the process for shaping it that way.

Student #4:
You just had to draw on a paper what shape you wanted, then you put it on the nickel and use a saw to cut it out.

Anthony Godfrey:
Did you make earrings as well? And what earrings did you make?

Student #4:
Hannah Montana.

Anthony Godfrey:
Hannah Montana. You know, you could trade and you could each be wearing one Harry Styles and one of Hannah Montana, that would be iconic. Once you made these things, did you feel like maybe, this sounds like an Etsy project, like something you could sell online? Have you thought about making something to sell?

Student #3:
She does.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, she does.

Student #3:
Ricki has an online boutique on Etsy.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, tell me about your boutique?

Student #4:
I just do like earrings and spoon rings

Anthony Godfrey:
Earrings and spoon rings, okay. So where do you get the spoons? I'm going to pull it up right now, by the way, let's take a look.

Student #4
Anywhere, like little vintage shops.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is it a particular kind of spoon that you look for?

Student #4
No, any pretty ones.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what's the name of your store? Oh, there it is. Okay. All right. May I? Let’s take a look? Oh, very nice. So did you have this before you were in this class?

Student #4:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you had an interest in making jewelry before you took this class. And how has this class helped with your jewelry making?

Student #4:
Now I know more techniques on how to do different things.

Anthony Godfrey:
Has your range of product offerings increased since being in this class? I like the flower earrings right there with the different colors. All right. Thank you guys.

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

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It was a hands-on educational experience that brought aspects of agriculture and having fun on the farm to students in the city.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to the annual 7th Grade Agriculture Day at JATC South where members of FFA helped teach middle school students about different professions in the ag industry as well as how food makes its way from farms to the dinner table. Two award winning goats also joined the ag day action, making a special guest appearance on the Supercast.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It was a hands-on educational experience that brought aspects of agriculture and having fun on the farm to students in the city. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to the Annual 7th Grade Agriculture Day at JATC South, where members of FFA helped teach middle school students about different professions in the agriculture industry, as well as how food makes its way from farms to the dinner table. Two award-winning goats also joined the ag day action, making a special guest appearance on the Supercast. Miranda from Riverton High School introduces us to Leonard and Penny.

Miranda:
My name is Miranda, and these are my goats. This one's name is Leonard, and then that's Penny and they're boer goats and they're also show goats. So I use them in like 4H and FFA competitions in livestock shows. I actually just showed a goat like this, his name was Sheldon, at the State Fair this past weekend. Something about these guys is that to use them in the show industry, you have to train them. So I use this rope halter to teach them how to walk, like you walk your dogs, I walk my goats. Then I also have a show halter that's a little fancier than this one, to use in the show ring with them. You also train them to set up or square up, which is where you put all four of their legs just directly underneath them. It just helps them to look their best. Then you do something called bracing, which helps them to flex their muscles because it is a market show. So you're looking for the best animal there or the best meat animal there.

Anthony Godfrey:
Which goat is the greatest of all time?

Miranda:
Probably this one right here.

Anthony Godfrey:
That goat is the goat.

Miranda:
Yes, she is the goat.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see that the tail is shaved and cut in a particular way. Is that part of the grooming for competition? 

Miranda:
Yes it is, and also their legs. We trim it just like at their hawk so then it's level to the ground. That's like the trend in the stock show industry. Then we actually fluff up their legs. We use a little blow dryer, like how we blow dry our hair, we blow their hair and we make it puffy and build it up. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Do any of you have goats at home? You have a golden retriever, but not a goat. Okay. They'd probably get along though. Did they eat crazy stuff like you think they would?

Miranda:
Maybe. These ones are on a special diet.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh they're on a special diet, a special goat diet. Is it an oat goat diet or what do they eat?

Miranda:
It's called Show Rite. It's a little gray pellet that you feed them. You can just get it from IFA.

Anthony Godfrey:
It’s good for the coat. What is your biggest goat award?

Miranda:
Probably this belt buckle I have on right now. Her sister actually won it for me.

Anthony Godfrey:
Grand Champion Goat. Is that from 2021? 

Miranda:
Yes, it is.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well done. So you are the champion, my friend. Do they know their names?

Miranda:
They might not. Sometimes when you call to them they'll respond, but not really.

Anthony Godfrey:
Are they evil or do they just look that way?

Miranda:
No, they're actually really nice. I like goats more than sheep. Goats are much nicer.

Anthony Godfrey:
So sheep are more on the evil end.

Miranda:
Yes. Do you guys know what goats are used for and why we breed them?

Students answering:
Goat milk.
They cook them.
Whoa.
Aren’t goats a delicacy?
Have you had goat meat? It's pretty good. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Sonja Burton, the principal of the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers South campus. Thank you for joining us. 

Sonja Burton:
Thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We want to talk about 7th Grade Agriculture Days. Tell me a little bit about that.

Sonja Burton:
Well, it came about by CTE. Current Technical Education has advisory boards and we were gathered in an advisory board meeting. The industry professionals at the time, in that meeting, asked us what we needed and they wanted to tie some sort of event to a curriculum. So the perfect class was College and Career Awareness or CCA that our 7th graders take where they learn about different careers in all of our CTE areas. This one happens to be agriculture. This one's a little bit more difficult to get work based, learning experiences or speakers to come in. So we're bringing the students to the industry professionals. 

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the other areas you cover in that class?

Sonja Burton:
Family and Consumer Science, Business and Marketing, Information Technology, Health Sciences, Skilled and Technical Sciences, and Tech and Engineering. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So 7th grade really is the perfect time to do that because they have so many class choices ahead of them in middle school and in high school and a lot of opportunities. Many students aren't aware of the broad range of options that are available to them. Agriculture days in particular is focused on an area that many kids don't have a lot of experience with,

Sonja Burton:
Right. And that's why we wanted to bring it to them because mostly students would think, ‘oh, agriculture is just farming’ and agriculture isn't just farming. It encompasses natural resources, food and farming, with food and fiber, fiber in particular, but also mining, landscape and horticulture, veterinary science, floriculture, so when you send flowers to someone. All of that is encompassed in agriculture.

Anthony Godfrey:
Many students don't understand where their food or clothing comes from. And agriculture days seems to be a great way to raise awareness, not just of careers, but really how the world works and how their needs are met.

Sonja Burton:
Yes, a lot of students, when you ask them, they say that their food, milk for example, comes from the store. They don't actually know. There was a dairy farmer outside speaking to them about all of their high tech machinery that they use to milk those cows. And they're milking them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on Christmas.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yes. The cows don't take a break. So really it connects students to the broader world around them. Even if they don't go into agriculture as a career, a better understanding of that is very valuable because just the way that we live and the way we rely on agriculture every day,

Sonja Burton:
It creates an awareness of your everyday life, which is exactly what CTE in all of our program areas do. It is real life experiences that you can use with your family and your friends, not just in school or in a career.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are even jobs within Jordan District that would be considered agriculture jobs.

Sonja Burton:
Of course! You have agricultural educators, who are also FFA advisers, but as you walk into a school, it's not only our teachers, but it is everything that takes place at each of our schools, especially our grounds and maintenance crews. They have to have a knowledge of landscape and horticulture in order to be able to do their jobs. We have the pleasure of having our Jordan District facilities and our grounds crews here to present to our 7th grade students.

Anthony Godfrey:
We can always use more help. That's great to be recruiting in 7th grade. What are some of the programs available in Jordan School District for a student who is interested in agriculture?

Sonja Burton:
At our comprehensive high schools, there are programs such as Animal Science. So we have the Animal Science pathway. We have Horticulture or the Plant Sciences pathway. Then as you move to the tech center, we have Veterinary Science at JATC North, and Landscape and Horticulture at JATC South.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's exciting that we have such a wide range of options available for students. If a parent wanted to find out more about what's available, how would they do that?

Sonja Burton:
They are welcome to contact their CTE coordinator at each of the comprehensive high schools, or they're welcome to contact JATC North and South.

Anthony Godfrey:
We had the chance to interview your daughter and her goats. Well, we interviewed the goats. They didn't really respond very well, but they were attentive. Tell me about what that's like as a family. You've done this for a long time.

Sonja Burton:
We have. My parents actually decided that was a good way to learn responsibility at a young age. So my dad did help us get into raising market lambs and goats. We still do it now. They raised market lambs and goats in Juab county and my children and my nieces participated in that family event.

Anthony Godfrey:
So market lambs and goats, as opposed to black market lambs and goats?

Sonja Burton:
These animals are show animals. So they will go to your livestock shows and fairs or exhibits around the state and around the country.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is it hard to say goodbye to those goats when it's time to send them to market?

Sonja Burton:
There have been many tears shed. Many, ‘Ok, just one more minute’ at the pen before we have to leave. Because not only do you name them, each of these animals have such a personality and you've spent hours with them, training them, so they are perfect when they get into that show ring. 

Anthony Godfrey:
When it is time for them to go, is it harder to say goodbye to some than to others?

Sonja Burton:
It is. Some you just wave and say, ‘see you later’, and others there are tears shed. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Sonya, do all goats go to heaven?

Sonja Burton:
No, I don't think so.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, fair enough. You've heard it here folks, all goats do not go to heaven. So be a good goat out there. All right. Well, thank you very much for everything you're doing to improve students' awareness of the careers in agriculture, and also just how the world works around them.

Sonja Burton:
Thank you so much.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. More fun on the farm and Ag Day when we come back.

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Anthony Godfrey:
Now let's listen in as Jordan School District maintenance employees talk about some of the equipment they use.

Maintenance worker #1:
Anybody have any ideas, what that is? How many of your parents fertilize the grass at your house with a little spreader thing? This is the same thing, but on steroids right here. With this we can haul about 8,000 pounds of fertilizer. What does fertilizer do for us? 

Student #1:
It kills the weeds in the grass.

Maintenance worker #1:
It can, it can, if it has that component with it. 

Student #2:
It grows the grass, it fertilizes the grass.

Maintenance worker #1:
Yes, Exactly. Can fertilizer be used on anything other than just grass? Yes. What? 

Students:
Flower beds.

Maintenance worker #1:
Yeah, flower beds, trees. Just about anything that comes up out of the ground, fertilizer will help it.

Maintenance worker #2:
So this is the aerator, and what it does is it digs up these little holes that you see in the grass, you know, every so often. It digs those holes, puts them in the ground, and it allows the grass and the soil to breathe kind of. And then it works hand in hand with the fertilizer, because when you do this, it allows the fertilizer to kind of get a little deeper in the soil and bring a little more nutrients to the grass and that makes it a little healthier.

Anthony Godfrey:
Introduce yourself to everyone.

Alisha Neil:
My name is Alisha Neil, and I'm the agriculture teacher at Mountain Ridge High School.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what does being the agriculture teacher at Mountain Ridge High School entail?

Alisha Neil:
So I am both the FFA advisor and then I teach the agriculture classes. So for me, that's Animal Science, Floriculture, Biology, Agriculture, and Equine Science.

Anthony Godfrey:
Floriculture. 

Alisha Neil:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And do students learn how to raise and arrange flowers?

Alisha Neil:
So the floriculture is different than the floriculture in greenhouse class, which I've taught before. In floriculture we're focusing mostly on floral design, so we've done a couple of weddings in my class so far this year, and we have a couple more to do. So we get a lot of the hands-on experience in designing and arranging flowers.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's awesome. What are some of the other classes?

Alisha Neil:
Animal Science is all about animals and animal science. We focus mostly on livestock animals in Animal Science 1 and then we get into small and companion animals in Animal Science 2. We cover anatomy and physiology, as well as what it takes to raise those animals, and what it would take for example, to get beef from the farm to the plate. So we follow those animals all the way through.

Anthony Godfrey:
Lots of kids and lots of people generally,  have lost an understanding of how that happens and what all is involved. What value do you see in bringing students along and helping them understand that process?

Alisha Neil:
So I tell my kid this. We do a consumer products unit, and being a good consumer of animal products in general, and having a better understanding of what it takes to get those products to you, is really important for kids as they make informed decisions as voters. As they go out and learn to be consumers of their own products and make those choices, every time a kid or a person buys a product from the grocery store, they're essentially voting for how they want that product raised and handled with their dollar. And so that's an important thing for our students to understand and to be able to apply. So whether they grow up to be in the agriculture profession or not, understanding how to be a good consumer is important.

Anthony Godfrey:
Anybody who eats can be more intentional and informed about the choices they make.

Alisha Neil:
A hundred percent. Yeah, that's exactly it. Like I said, understanding labels, understanding the different ways our products are raised is really important. Even though we're in a suburban to urban setting, like you said, every person that eats can make better informed choices, if they understand the background of where those products come from.

Anthony Godfrey:
You mentioned, companion animals, would I normally call that a pet?

Alisha Neil:
Yes, that would be a pet.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about companion animal versus pet.

Alisha Neil:
So a companion animal as registered is what we would consider a pet. In the animal industry, we call them companion animals, but that could be everything now from a Chinchilla to a dog or cat, even horses. I have kids that have many horses that go do therapy with them. So there's a broad spectrum of what we consider companion animals now. But we also talk about exotics and zoology stuff in there as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
So Ag courses can help students go into agriculture and be prepared for that, but also just better understand animals in their lives. 

Alisha Neil:
Correct. So agriculture really affects all of us. Every time you put on a piece of clothing that has cotton in it, to wearing leather shoes, to eating three times a day, all of that is influenced by agriculture. I do have a lot of kids that are in the vet science line of things, but I also have kids that are just there because they're interested in animals and want to learn a little bit more. And it really does, it affects all of us. There's things that you don't think about. Everything from your hair gel and mascara down to the air filters in our car have animal products in them. So things we need to learn about.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about FFA.

Alisha Neil:
So FFA is a passion of mine and always has been. I had a really excellent ag teacher who's now the principal here at JATC South. FFA is really a life changing student leadership organization. We have a fairly decent chapter at Mountain Ridge and we're growing. Last year with the pandemic things kind of got a little off track, but we're back on now. We have competitions for students to be in, but really first and foremost, it's a student leadership organization where kids learn hands-on leadership skills. My student officers make all the decisions for our chapter, our school. So they decide what socials we have, what competitions we're in, what things run that way. They run the whole program, and my job is just to be there for the advisor role.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me the thinking behind having students teaching students at this event.

Alisha Neil:
One of my favorite things about this particular 7th Grade Ag Day, we've been doing it for quite a number of years, but it gives my kids the first hand opportunity to expand their knowledge. Kids always learn better when they're teaching. The person doing the talking is usually the one doing the most learning. So they get that added benefit of being able to tell what they know. They also kind of experience what it's like to be a teacher, and they're usually nicer to me after this day. They're a little bit grateful. They're like, ‘this is exhausting. How do you do this all the time?’ By teaching, they kind of round out their knowledge and they can see where they have gaps. It's also really valuable to my students because as they apply for FFA awards, my kids have to have a hundred service hours, and so this goes to count towards those service hours and can help them. The degree application they have to do is approved by the state of Utah and they they really like this on their applications. This shows up really nice for them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you don't have to be a future farmer of America to be in FFA?

Alisha Neil:
No. So Future Farmers of America, the name actually changed in 1988 and they dropped the future farmers part of it, but kept FFA because of all the tradition and history we have associated with it. But future farmer really should be future biologist, future engineer, future wildlife biologist, future soil tech.

Anthony Godfrey:
Future informed consumer. 

Alisha Neil:
Exactly, exactly. Everyone is affected by agriculture, whether directly or indirectly and agriculture is still our nation's largest employer. So whether it's in the field, which there's not a ton of actual farmers anymore as we've condensed, but agriculture still employs more people than any other industry.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much. It's great talking with you and thank you for all the efforts that you put into making an event like this possible. I'm sure it's the type of exposure that many students haven't experienced. 

Alisha Neil:
It's really fun. And the best part is the kids that do it here in 7th grade, a lot of the times, by the time they get to high school, they remember it and they come and seek our programs out. So it works really well all the way around.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. Thanks again. 

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

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