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At just 9-years-old, Sam Gordon attracted the attention of people around the world in a video showing her racing down the football field, scoring touchdown after touchdown in a peewee football game. It was a video that went viral receiving more than 5 million views in just three days.

On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Sam Gordon, now a senior at Herriman High School. She talks about being named one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women in Sports Today” by Sports Illustrated and how she helped create the first Girls Football League in Utah. Find out what’s next for this talented athlete, known as a soccer and football phenom.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. At just nine years old, Sam Gordon attracted the attention of people around the world in a video, showing her racing down the football field, scoring touchdown after touchdown at her Peewee football game.

Video:
Without walking to the set, one of the newest national celebrities, based on our YouTube video of some amazing football highlights. Her name is Sam Gordon.

Sam:
I scored 35 touchdowns, got around 2000 rushing yards and made 65 tackles.

Video:
Touchdown after touchdown after touchdown, obviously it went viral.

Superintendent:
Receiving more than 5 million views in just three days. On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Sam Gordon, now a senior at Herriman High School. She talks about being named one of the most powerful and influential women in sports today by Sports Illustrated, just this month and how she helped create the first Girls Football League in Utah. Find out what's next for this talented athlete, known as a soccer and football phenom. We're here with Sam Gordon student from Herriman high school talking about the fact that she was just recently this month listed in Sports Illustrated as a part of the unrelenting. Now, the way they described this is the list of the most powerful, most influential, and most outstanding women in sports right now. That is really awesome. And we're going to come back to that Sam, but first, I want to talk about where all this started. Thanks for joining me today.

Sam:
Yeah, for sure. It a pleasure to be here.

Superintendent:
I'm going to pull up this highlight. You told me just before the interview that you haven't watched this video for awhile. There was a video that went viral. How viral did it go?

Sam:
It was like 5 million views in three days.

Superintendent:
It was took off. I remember watching it at the time and I don't think I knew at the time that you were a student in Jordan District. It just popped up in my feed because everybody was watching it. Is it all right? Well, so we pulled up the highlights. Are we going to see the run here that went viral?

Sam:
Yeah, so it was off of a kickoff and I got the ball and then it's just a lot of touchdown runs in a row, all compiled together. So that first season was really cool. That was against Luke Staley's team, which was awesome. First year playing football. And we're all a bunch of nine-year-olds that really don't know what we're doing. Just kind of got the ball and got a run.

Superintendent:
You appear to know what you're doing.

Sam:
A little bit of Sharks and Minnows taught me how to do this bit.

Superintendent:
Sharks and Minnows. Is that what the training was?

Sam:
Yeah. Since recesses are great. That was my go-to.

Superintendent:
Sharks and minnows. You heard it here first. That was what made her start. Once you get the ball, it looks like you're pretty relentless, like Sports Illustrated says. You just decide, I'm going to head for the end zone.

Sam:
And then this part of it is making some tackles, which was fun. I honestly kind of like defense better than offense. I think it's really fun to go out there and make a hit.

Superintendent:
So you like making a hit more than scoring?

Sam:
Both are awesome feelings, but sometimes defense has this extra adrenaline that comes with it. And you know, each play you get to talk with your D-line and kinda like make sure that your stopping them. And I think it's definitely very fun.

Superintendent:
Let's talk about all the things that have happened since that video went viral. That was really the start of all of it. And you've had a lot of opportunities as a result of that. Can you tell me some of the things that have happened?

Sam:
So after that YouTube video went viral, I got to go out and do a lot of cool things. My first was an interview with Good Morning America at like 5:00 AM in the morning. And after that, it kind of just took off. I got to go to New York and LA and then back to New York and do a lot of interviews, which was really cool. And then I got involved with the NFL and was able to do a Super Bowl commercial with them and some really cool stuff. And then later, that kind of led me into starting the Girls Soccer Football League and growing that with my dad and some other people I've been with that wanted to start one from the start and then more things at the NFL and interviews. It's kind of just been a lot and, but it's been really great experiences.

Superintendent:
That's amazing in a very short period of time, how old were you when those videos were taken? I was nine years old.

Superintendent:
So you were nine years old. That's a short time to have all of that happen. Who are some of the people that you've met? I was watching the Super Bowl. I didn't know you were going to be in that ad. And I saw that ad. I was amazed at all of the legends who were there altogether in the same place. Tell me some of the people that you've met that have been particularly exciting.

Sam:
So, I play soccer a ton and so I got to meet the US Women's National Team for Soccer, and that was a really cool experience. I got to go to a practice for the 49ers and meet all the team, and that was really cool. They're now my favorite team. Hung out with Roger Goodell and then, you know, for the NFL 100 commercial was hanging out with Saquon Barkley and Richard Sherman for about four hours as we filmed it. So met a lot of cool football players and a lot of cool athletes.

Superintendent:
And you got to attend the Super Bowl, correct?

Sam:
Yeah, I've been to three  Super Bowls, which has been pretty cool.

Superintendent:
I saw you watch the Super Bowl from the booth, if I'm not mistaken.

Sam:
Yeah. The, the first one I went to, I was with Roger in the booth and I remember our booth had security guards and then two booths down was Jay Z and Beyonce and they didn't have any. And I thought that was really funny.

Superintendent:
I've gone to barbecues with Jay Z and Beyonce, but never a football game. No, that's really exciting that you've been able to to be involved at that level. How was the Super Bowl different from other games, in terms of being a spectator at the event?

Sam:
The entire energy is just different. It's like the athletic event of the year, everybody's tuning into watch it. Especially the first one, the 49ers were in it and to see your team in the Super Bowl is something totally different. The atmosphere, the halftime concert, all of it is just, it's incredible.

Superintendent:
You talked about being on Good Morning America. They actually surprised you with something on that show. Tell everyone what that was.

Sam:
Yeah. So I think it was my second time being on Good Morning America.  I was in New York and they had this little box that was underneath a curtain and then they pulled it away and I was being held up, and then there was a Wheaties box with my face on it. That was such a cool thing for a little nine year old me to see.

Superintendent:
How many boxes of Wheaties with Sam Gordon on the front do you have? I would have a case of them, I think.

Sam:
I think I've got one. My grandma's got one and I'm not sure where the other ones went, but we definitely have a bunch of flat copies of the Wheaties posters.

Superintendent:
That's pretty amazing. Is Wheaties now your favorite cereal?

Sam:
It has been for a long time. What is your favorite?

Superintendent:
Favorite cereal?  Captain Crunch. Wheaties, it's been a long time, but maybe I need to revisit that. Were you playing soccer the whole time that you were playing football as well?

Sam:
Yeah, so soccer has always been a big thing for me and I want to play it in college. And football is something different because of the adrenaline and it's just an entire different sport, but I love them both.

Superintendent:
So what's next for you? You've a senior at Herriman High School. Where do you hope to go to school? What do you hope to play? What's next?

Sam:
So I submitted my early decision application to Columbia, so we'll see how that goes. And then hoping to go walk onto the soccer team up there, be in New York. My older brother's at NYU, so that'd be cool. Go to law school. I don't really know it's kind of up in there, but hopefully I'm pursuing girls tackle football and promoting that.

Superintendent:
Great. Now let's talk about the Sports Illustrated list. This is a very prestigious list. And as I described earlier, most powerful, most influential and most outstanding women in sports. Now to make that list is a great honor.

Sam:
Yeah, it's amazing reading some of the other women that I'm listed there with, and being a part of that is it's really a great,

Superintendent:
Great thing. I noticed that Serina Williams, Billie Jean King, Naomi Osaka, I'm a big tennis fan. Wife's been a tennis player since she was eight. But you're on a list with some amazing athletes there. Who are the athletes that inspire you?

Sam:
I think a big one for me was Abby Wamback. She was the player that invited me out to a practice when I got to meet the US Women's National Team. And the fight that she's had for quality for women in soccer, in the soccer world, and then along with just her toughness out on the field and as a soccer player. Watching her getting knocked down and getting back up was always an inspiration to me.

Superintendent:
I also wanted to ask you, I saw that you, after going viral, ended up being a speaker at a lot of distinguished events throughout the country. What are some of the themes that you talk about in those presentations?

Sam:
So when I was younger, a lot of it was just about me playing football with the boys and kind of my experience doing that, and my love for football and sports in general as I've gotten older. I kind of get a little bit more of a perspective on things and I can kind of see the inequality. And a little bit of what I've experienced and what we're still facing as far as the football world and getting women involved. I've got to speak a lot about that and then the challenges. And also just about girls loving football, being part of the girls' tackle football league and giving girls the soccer opportunity to play a sport that they really don't have a chance to anywhere else in the world. It's something special to be a part of, and so I've got to speak on that a lot too.

Superintendent:
So you have a lot of frequent flyer miles.

Sam:
Yes. built up my Sky miles.

Superintendent:
Wow. How has being involved in sports impacted your life and going viral and having these opportunities? How has that changed?

Sam:
I think sports have changed everything for me. Even if you don't become famous, I think sports in general are so great for kids. Building leadership and making friends and everything like that, all the great qualities that sports can give us. And then, I think being involved in all these other things. When I go to those events and I get to speak, I also get to hear other speakers and it's been really inspiring to hear other people's stories and you really get perspective on a lot of the things in the world. And also the fact that you can make a difference. And so by having this goal of wanting to give more girls the opportunity to play football and then starting this league and seeing it actually make a difference has been inspiring. And I really take that into my own life and tell other people, if you have something that you really believe in, work for it and it can happen.

Superintendent:
Stay with us. When we come back, we'll be joined by one of Sam Gordon's Girls Football League teammates.

Stacee Worthen:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways our school district counselors can help you and your student school counselors play such an important role in our schools, they provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social wellbeing of students in our school. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college, or just beginning, the conversation of higher education now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor together. Counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed long after they leave during the school district. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent:
All right, we're back now with Sam Gordon and she's now joined by Molly DeLuca. Molly, thanks for joining us and being here. Tell me about your involvement in football.

Molly:
So I started playing football and I was about 12 years old. I was in seventh grade and I played soccer before and I needed to do something new. I  just wasn't happy playing soccer. It just wasn't my sport. And I joined on the Black Diamonds Team with Sam and ever since then, I've been playing every single year since seventh grade. And it's just been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I've made so many friends and I've learned so much from it.

Superintendent:
So what do you like about football versus soccer?

Molly:
I guess it's a way to get my stress out. And I love hitting with all the pads. I dunno, it's just a good experience catching the ball and running, feeling like you did something like soccer. I never really got to feel that accomplishment, but with football, I do. I also met so many friends and it's just a great experience.

Superintendent:
I saw that you nodded your head when Sam was talking about loving defense. Do you prefer defense over offense because you get to knock some people around?

Molly:
Yes I do. I usually don't play the position to receive the ball and score, even though I still love offense. But defense, I like hitting people and like stopping them. It's a lot better in my opinion.

Superintendent:
What made you want to start football?

Molly:
Like I said before, soccer wasn't doing it for me. I was in fourth grade with Sam and when I saw that she was starting this new team, I thought that would be actually really fun to do. And it fit my body type, my social needs, everything. I was just like, yeah, let's try football. And I ended up loving it and I've keep playing every single year.

Superintendent:
Are you a senior at Herriman?

Molly:
I am. Yeah.

Superintendent:
So what's next for you? What are your plans?

Molly:
I'm planning on going to SEU. I'm not sure what I want to go into yet, but I kind of want to get away and start school somewhere a little farther than this area.

Superintendent:
For those who may not know what the rules are and how your football league is set, are the rules different from traditional football rules?

Molly:
Yeah, so we have a couple of different rules than traditional football. The biggest one is that we took out kickoffs and punt returns, mainly because that's where most injuries occur. And we really are trying to take out injuries as much as possible on our league. So we have just taken those plays out completely. The second one that we've done is we have an X weight basically. So girls over a certain weight limit can't be handed off the ball. They can still go out as a receiver, but they can't be handed off, mainly because we're still at a point where a lot of girls haven't played before. And so setting competition up against somebody who might be twice their size would be again, another risk for injury. So for right now, that's a rule we're hoping in the future we can take that away.

Superintendent:
What's your favorite secret play Molly that nobody knows about?

Molly:
I remember a few years ago we would we call it an orange wedge and we would all stand up straight and not even move and be really cool. We have a no play where we just stand up and pretend like we're running the ball, but we wouldn't. It threw off the other players a lot, and it was so fun.

Superintendent:
I'm wondering how I can integrate that into my daily set of plays. The orange wedge. Tell me that again. So that's when everybody stands up.

Molly:
Yeah. We make our U shaped, kind of like orange wise, like it says, and we kind of just block in the shape of an orange. It would just like throw the other team off beause we didn't have a specific hold to go through. it just pushed up yards, I guess. And it was actually really cool. And we scored a lot on that play.

Superintendent:
Have you seen some big turnarounds where someone was maybe reluctant at first and then wildly enthusiastic about the game, once they kind of had a chance to apply?

Molly:
I have definitely seen that. But you get a lot of girls that come out their first season and don't really know what they're doing and then did stayed in the league forever. I think a lot of girls gain confidence throughout the year in football. We have such a great community and we have people from a lot of different backgrounds, other sports, where you don't really get that same opportunity. And so I think when girls come out and they learn how to hit and they learn how to have fun. And it's a life changing experience for some of them. I feel like girls are also scared of getting hurt because it's a physical demanding sport. But once they learned to play, it's just like any other sport. There's physical demands in literally anything you play, but it's just a lot. It's really fun and they learn to love it.

Superintendent:
Thanks to both of you for coming to be interviewed for the Supercast. I really appreciate meeting both of you and best of luck in your future pursuit to post-graduation.

Sam and Molly:
Thank you.

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

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Learning at-home in a virtual classroom is something some parents and students are still adjusting to in these unprecedented times. On this episode of the Supercast, we talk to two Jordan School District employees who are available every day to help with virtual classroom questions. They are working hard to lead students on a path to online learning success.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Hello, and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Learning at home in a virtual classroom is something some parents and students are still adjusting to in these unprecedented times. On this episode of the Supercast, we talked to two Jordan School District employees who are available every day to help with virtual classroom questions. They're working hard to lead students on a path to online learning success. We start with a friend of the show, someone who was featured last week about a unique way of connecting with kids, using an impressive Pez collection at Oprah Hills Middle School. Now Kimberly Navratil is working from home with a new assignment, Online Outreach for students and parents, unprecedented back to back guests spot. We have Kimberly Navratil back with us to talk about her current experience. In our last podcast, you were still at Oquirrh Hills back in February. Things have changed since then for all of us.

Kimberly:
Haven't they?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Kimberly, just a little bit, tell us about your new assignments for this year.

Kimberly:
So I am now in a very lucky situation. I felt blessed and fortunate to be working with online students. So basically, I'm a support for the schools. The schools are the support for the students and we kind of all work together as a team. Let's say there are students with issues who are having a hard time logging in or not understanding Canvas, how to work Canvas and are just having a hard time getting going. Teachers will fill out an engagement concern, and that concern comes to me. I try to see what I can do to get the ball rolling and get kids up and running and learning. And it's been really great.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So, teachers are the first point of contact and schools are the first point of contact, but ultimately if they have been unsuccessful in making contact with the student is supposed to be learning online, that's where you come in. Correct?

Kimberly:
Correct. And it's been great because some of these teachers heard about me because I worked with another one of their friends, another coworker who is having a concern, and so they refer me to their coworker and then I'm getting concerns from other people and it's been great because I want to get the word out there. I want teachers to know that there's support and help for them, just like there's support and help for students and parents.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Support is really what it's about right now, because we're all in a difficult circumstance. We're doing things we haven't had to do before. And people need the help that they haven't needed before because of these these different circumstances. We're all going through the pandemic together, but supporting each other is how we'll make it and how we'll continue to provide a high level of education. Without revealing any personal details, what are some of the things that you've seen happening with students? Some of the circumstances they find themselves in and how have we been able to help.

Kimberly:
I would say maybe he number one is just learning. Like you said, this is near to all of us. So parents, students, we're all learning. I'm a parent myself with an online learner at home. And so we're all learning how to manage our time, how to schedule, but ultimately the learning of Canvas. Learning how to work Canvas, how to log in, how to submit assignments, how to log into Zoom class meetings for your elementary students. It's huge. And Spanish. I've come across a lot of parents who don't speak English. And so they're receiving emails or instruction and they're not translating them when I'm able to make contact with these parents. Luckily, I speak enough Spanish that I'm able to help them get started. And if I can't complete my translation all the way through, I find them help or support with someone who can.

And it's amazing how a lot of us have the same struggles. You have families with small children and I've had families with four small children. I've had families with five elementary school students and sometimes parents just need a sounding board. They just need someone to talk to because, like you said, this is new to all of us. Having someone to talk to someone to share your concerns or issues you're having, it's been fulfilling for me. I've cried with moms. Twice now, I've cried with moms. I mean, it's hard not to put yourself in their shoes. It's hard on the parents. It's hard on the students. It's hard on the teachers. It's hard on the schools. This is just a crazy time.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What are some of the things that you've been able to tell parents that have helped get them through things when they do call and they need to talk about it. You talked about the mechanics of just making everything work. Are there some approaches or mindsets that helped as well?

Kimberly:
Oh, definitely. The one thing that I kind of admit with all of the parents, the struggle is real. I mean, this is a real struggle and you're not alone. Everyone, whether they're willing to admit it or not, this is affecting them, and it is not easy. I know that boys struggle a lot more than girls. There's a lot of parents who say, "My daughters are great, but my son, he just can't sit still." Or we have students who have ADHD and they have a hard time sitting still, but there's health conditions at home that prevent them from going to school and learning in person. And I myself had a son with ADHD, so luckily I was able to share with them advice that I've learned from many teachers. He needed a fidget, like a squeeze ball, a stress ball, a fidget spinner. Another thing, a designated work spot for the kids has been helpful. Their own desk or somewhere they can go without distractions, not close to a TV. They're not close to their phones. Students have a hard time knowing that they're supposed to sit there for 30 minutes for a Zoom meeting or an hour, or they have a break for 10 minutes. And their concept of time is frankly all digital nowadays. And so they don't understand.

Superintendent Godfrey:
The other thing you brought up is, you know, sometimes we get the notion that because a student has chosen to learn online, that they're well-suited to learning online. And that's not necessarily the case, as you indicated in your own family. So that choice is because you're doing that for health reasons, even for someone else in your family, even if that isn't the easiest option for you. So we do have a mismatch sometimes that has to be corrected, and that's just creates some additional stress for everyone.

Kimberly:
Correct. I found lots of that. And then even if there isn't a health issue, I've I found we have children who are majoring anxiety, which leads me to a major point that I found is key. With online learning, as with anything in life, is communication. If teachers don't know what's going on, they cannot help. And I found that parents, if you're struggling, if your kids are struggling, if you're unsure, reach out to your teacher. Teachers that I've worked with are more than willing to help and excited and happy and truly willing to do whatever it takes to help get their students on board. And communication is just key. I think it's just a key reminder because communication is something that sometimes goes by the wayside when our bandwidth is already taken up with so many other things that we're trying to do, open communication with your teacher or your school counselor, or whoever your contact at the school is, is very important.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Kimberly, thanks for spending time with us. And thanks for everything you're doing to support students, teachers, and schools and families. I know it's making a big difference. So thank you. If they need to contact you and they need some support, how do they get ahold of you?

Kimberly:
Oh, that's a great question. I am here to help. So I would love to receive emails and I receive phone calls either way. I'm here to help. My email is kimberly.navratil@jordandistrict.org. And my phone number is (801) 567-8131. So feel free, reach out. We're here to help support. We're all in this together.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Thanks very much, Kimberly.

Kimerly:
Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, Online Learning Consultant Ammon Wiemers joins us to answer more virtual classroom questions.

Stacee:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways during school district counselors can help you and your students? School counselors play such an important role in our schools. They provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social well-being of students in our school. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college or just for starting the conversation of higher education, now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor. Together, counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed, long after they leave Jordan School Districts. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're here talking with Ammon Wiemers about online classes and the online program here in Jordan District. Thanks for joining us Ammon.

Ammon:
Yeah, you bet.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Ammon is one of the many people who has worked very hard to get online education up and running any new way, very, very rapidly. We like to say that we, as a district, did what would have taken five years in five weeks because we prepared for a new school year very quickly. That's not to say that we didn't have online courses before. Of course we did, and I want to talk a little bit about that Ammon, but things had to change dramatically to offer options for teachers to teach online and for students to learn online. And I just want to express appreciation before we get started for the work you and your staff have done to make that possible. That was a huge leap forward.  And there are always bumps along that road, but you guys have done an amazing job of providing that very quickly and efficiently.

Ammon:
Yeah. Thank you. Really, the rubber meets the road in the classrooms though. And so we have just a tremendous army of teachers that are really doing things that we didn't think possible a couple of months ago and doing it daily. And if nothing else, that appreciation goes to the people doing it. The interacting with the students the most and giving the instruction. They're doing amazing things.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And I think the things that they're doing will continue to provide a broad variety of options to students, even after pandemic learning is over. And so things will shift when the pandemic is over, but I don't think we'll ever return to where we were.

Ammon:
Oh yeah, no doubt about that. And for good. And that's not something that we should say is a downfall.  We're making huge strides forward. Now we've been moving incrementally towards this and we just took a big, big step this year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a good way of putting it. We have been moving in that direction and Utah Students Connect is what we had in place previous to the pandemic. Can you just give a very brief description of what that looked like before this fall?

Ammon:
Yeah. So Utah Students Connect is a consortium of six districts who formed in 2011-12 school year was when we started offering online course options to students. We recognize that the limited number of students meant that we needed some help from our friends to be able to offer courses to as large a number of students as wanted to. And so we formed with some other districts that are our neighbors and formed, created some courses and we've offered online options for high school students at grades 9 through 12, since the 2011-12 school year. And that online program has been successful. And it's informed the work that we're doing with the virtual students this year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And when did that was expanded, it was already a very successful program. I had you and other members of your staff online teachers before the pandemic come and present to the Board, the great pass rates and participation rates and high grades that students were receiving in online courses. You have really blown away, the records of other programs in the state. And so we had a robust program to start with, and then the pandemic came and we had to dramatically expand those offerings. And so we're still part of Utah Students Connect, but then we had teachers and students who requested the opportunity to teach and learn online. And then we recruited a lot of extra teachers who were fortunately willing to take that on and add some additional online classes to their schedule. And so Utah Students Connect still exists, but then we added to that other layers to accommodate student and teacher requests.

Ammon:
That's right. And I think that one of the challenges that comes with that expanding the program is understanding how the two are similar and how they're different. And I think that, understanding what the online or virtual classroom looks like in the district is important to be able to be successful in that we're expecting something and getting something else, it's frustrating. But I think that if we understand what we're signing up for, then we'll be more successful in that choice. And so maybe we can discuss what virtual learning, what that means, what it is that students can, what it is.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. And that's one of my questions for you. What are some of the misunderstandings out there that might be helpful to clear up? And like you said, everyone had different expectations coming into this, what virtual learning would look like. What are some of the misunderstandings that you've heard?

Ammon:
Well, there are two terms that I wish for once and for all we could do away with. And I think that those point to the misunderstanding. There's no such thing as a virtual student. Just like, there's no such thing as a virtual teacher. We have virtual classrooms, but in those virtual classrooms, we have real teachers and real students doing real work. And I think that when we understand it in that mindset, it's not so different than a classroom in the school. Students are still enrolled in their schools. They are still connected to the resources and the support at their schools. They just happened to be attending a virtual classroom, but they still have to stay connected. And this will qualify for any of the services, any of the support, and helps that are available for students who are enrolled in traditional classrooms, still afforded to them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah, I think you're right. We can talk about virtual, online distance learning, and we use all those terms interchangeably. And it is helpful to focus on the language of a virtual classroom, but real people in that classroom. Are there other misunderstandings that would be helpful for us to discuss?

Ammon:
There, isn't a shortcut, right? And so I think that's important to understand. There's no shortcut in learning. Moving to a virtual classroom, doesn't make it easier. Because we're using a technology or a computer, learning is still hard work, teaching is still hard. And so I think that if we understand that teachers and students are willing to put in the work and it's a mutual association relationship. They're both interested in the success, they're willing to put in that hard work. And so we're not so distant. People may think we are not because we're not in a classroom, but we still can form relationships with the teacher and the teacher can with the students.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Ammon, thanks very much for joining us. I know it's very busy for you and your staff. I really appreciate everything you're doing again, and that you would take time to be on the Supercast. And we look forward to more great things with virtual classrooms with real students and teachers at any time.

Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you

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Prior to the pandemic, the first thing you would find walking into the front office at Oquirrh Hills Middle School was hundreds of PEZ candy dispensers on display in a huge collection that captured the attention of students and visitors alike.

Attendance secretary Kimberly Navratil has been collecting what is called the “candy with character” for years, using it to connect with students in a very sweet way. On this Halloween episode of the Supercast, find out what happens when Superintendent Anthony Godfrey stumbles upon the impressive PEZ collection and gets a taste of the quirky candy originally marketed as a breath mint.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. On this Halloween edition of the show, we share the sweet story of a Jordan School District employee, and her passion for Pez dispensers. Prior to the pandemic, the first thing you would see walking into the front office at Oquirrh Hills Middle School was hundreds of Pez candy dispensers on display in a huge collection that captured the attention of students and visitors alike. Attendance Secretary Kimberley Navratil has been collecting what is called "the candy with character" for years, using it to connect with students in a very sweet way. Find out why Kimberly loves her growing collection of Pez characters so much and what happens when I get a taste of this quirky candy, originally marked as a breath mint. We're here in the Attendance Office of Oquirrh Hills Middle School, and there's been a lot going on. It's really hard to find a little bit of down time here because it's buzzing and there's a reason it's buzzing. And that is Kim, who works here in the Attendance Office. I'll let her introduce herself.

Kimberly:
I'm Kimberly Navratil. I've been here about six years. I've been in a few other places here at the District, but now am here and loving it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's quite a place. And there are a ton of kids going through here. I was amazed at how many kids' names you know. They just walk up and you call them by name. How many kids names do you actually know?

Kimberly:
I don't know. I try to know them. I try to know a lot.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's impressive because there was no cheating. You just knew people as they walked in. So what are some of the things that you help people with as they come in the attendance office? I'm not sure that people listening realize just the number of different issues that come through.

Kimberly:
We could write a book.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I'm sure you could.

Kimberly:
There are so many issues. Kids who've had water spill on them. Kids who are upset and need to call home. Kids are checking out, checking in. Kids who have been sent down by a teacher and need an excuse, to write an apology letter, all sorts of stuff. Deliveries for students.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So you really get to know what their needs are and what's going on at the school. Part of your success is the very inviting attendance office that you have set up here with hundreds of Pez dispensers, which really speaks to me because I have a few, but I am in the presence of greatness, because this rivals any collection I've ever seen. How many do you have? Do you know?

Kimberly:
I knew I should have known. I have close to a thousand.  They're not all here. Some of them are home.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So there's the permanent collection. And then there's a rotating collection. Is that right?

Kimberly:
Rotating collection. The holidays are rotating. So it's seasonal.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh yes. I see a section of Valentines hearts, clear hearts, lady bugs with parts instead of dots. Lots of variety.

Kimberly:
Always fun. And I get new ones all the time, you know? So there's always something different.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How does the Pez collection relate to what you do in the Attendance Office?

Kimberly:
Oh, it's a great conversation piece. Kids love it. Kids will come in and we can easily distract any kind of issue that's going on with, "Have you seen this Pez dispenser?" I show them my favorite one and how it shoots Pez literally across the room. And it distracts everyone from, you know, instantly something different than that.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So it provides a connection to kids and it calms them down and it just gives you something to talk about other than whatever issue they're dealing with. Right?

Kimberly:
Right, which is all the time when you're dealing with teenagers.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Right. If we think back to middle school, we can all think about how tumultuous that time was. All right. Well, can you take us on a little tour of the collection? It looks like Star Wars is a clear favorite is that right?

Kimberly:
Star Wars is the center. It's our central point, of course. And I've received them from different people and there's a meaning behind a lot of these different Pez dispensers and they have a special place in my heart, I guess.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, tell us about some of those.

Kimberly:
Well, I'll start with one of my absolute favorites, which is I have to grabbed it so you can see it. This Home Depot car and it's a Pez dispenser, but I didn't know it was. This cute, cute boy, when he was in seventh grade, he's now a ninth grader here, was standing in line waiting for me. It was crazy day. And he hands me his Home Depot car.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Which is about six inches long. It's like the NASCAR or Home Depot car.

Kimberly:
And, I'm said it's a car. Thanks Jeffrey. And he's like, yeah, yeah, it's a Pez dispenser. And I thought, no way. But sure enough, it's a Pez dispenser and it literally literally will shoot Pez across the room.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You can put candy in there?

Kimberly:
No, no, no, no. Most of these, no candy. I keep candy in the car so that you can share that can shoot.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Can you shoot it across the room and then someone catching it in their mouth?

Kimberly:
Yeah, yeah, we've done that.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Why does that not surprise me in the middle school? I'm not shocked at that.

Kimberly:
You just wind him up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it's just very boring and just pops up out of the hood.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I'm going to take that one. It just wouldn't be right for me to leave it there.

Kimberly:
Yep. So that one is one of my favorites.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think that one is orange, which tastes like children's aspirin, I must say. Okay.

Kimberly:
You know, that's one thing. I do not even like the candy.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You don't like the candy?

Kimberly:
I don't even like that.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I was going to ask you what your favorite flavor is.

Kimberly:
Yeah. I don't like the candy.

Superintendent Godfrey:
My favorites is Cherry Cola in case you wondered. They have quite a few, quite a variety.

Kimberly:
Yeah, my student aides were telling us about the chocolate ones last semester. They  liked the chocolate ones. So they would come in here and they would eat the chocolate ones.

Superintendent Godfrey:
All right, well.

Kimberly:
So I'll, I'll take their word for it that the chocolate ones are good.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So the Home Depot car is the center.

Kimberly:
Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You have a Stranger Things, Snow White, Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo, Lord of the Rings, Hello Kitty, Presidents of the United States. President Eisenhower.

Kimberly:
Yeah. I've got some really good ones. I've got Lincoln, which was just given to me about a month ago.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I mean, I like Ike, but I never thought that he would be featured on a Pez dispenser.

Kimberly:
Right? I've got George Washington. I've got the first ones. They, some of them just appeared on my desk one day.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. I was going to ask you that. Some of them just appear?

Kimberly:
Yes, some of them just appear and I have no idea who left them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Once people find out that I'm a music fan and that I listened to records, I actually listened to them, then people bring me their collections as they are cleaning out the garage. So I assume it's the same way with this.

Kimberly:
It is the same way I do get, I get moms who bring me a Ziploc bag of those all the time. I try to collect them from anywhere I go. So I have like the state sports over there on the wall.

Superintendent Godfrey
Lots of baseball teams.

Kimberly:
From different places all over the country. Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So there are really subsets you can collect. I'm going to get all of the Star Wars are all of the baseball right now.

Kimberly:
Right. Or all of the Funko Pop Harry Potters that you know, someone started.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Harry Potter and Funko Pop and Pez combination just blows the collector's mind. I would say pop Pez. The pop has is that it's newer. X-Men too.

Kimberly:
I have Large Minion, and supposedly he talks, but I've never taken him out of his package.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh. Are you careful about keeping some in the package? Is that important to you?

Kimberly:
I am. So ones that are from other States, I try to keep in their package.

Superintendent Godfrey:
The ones from other States?

Kimberly:
Like the sports. If I have a duplicate, then I'll take one out. But if I don't have a duplicate, I try to keep it in its box.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Do you buy them from Pez? Do you buy them on eBay? Do you wait for the collection to grow as people bring them?

Kimberly:
People bring them. I have bought some on eBay. I have the Crayola. I have a Crayola package, which my daughter saw that on Amazon. And she said, mom, you work at a school, you need a Crayola Pez

Superintendent Godfrey:
I agree. I have to admire that. You've got Captain Crunch and you've got the Crunch Berry Guy. I mean, it's really something. And the KFC Colonel Sanders.

Kimberly:
I just got that for Christmas. Someone gave that to me for Christmas.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, Smurfs. Look, there's another level.

Kimberly:
And Disney villains.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. I brought a few, but I have that are extras that are Star Wars. Because I know Star Wars. It looks like that's your favorite. So I've got a few. Now I know that when you're collecting, sometimes the top might be the same, but if the, what do you call the main part of it. the stem or whatever color is different.

Kimberly:
Sometimes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now I have one, but I don't think you have. This is a droid from the latest Star Wars Movie. Do you have this one?

Kimberly:
Oh, it's the green. I don't know, which one he is?

Superintendent Godfrey:
The newest, the brand brand new.

Kimberly:
I don't know. I don't know if I do have him.

Superintendent Godfrey:
All right, now you do. And then I just brought a bunch of others.

Kimberly:
That's funny.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think we should see whether you have these in that form.

Kimberly:
That's hilarious.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. I know. Because even if there's any slight variation.

Kimberly:
He is gross!

Superintendent Godfrey:
He is the grossest I think I've ever seen. It's the Emperor, actually, meant that the actor who played the actor. He was cool. He was a much, much more palatable person.

You do. You do have him, but see what's the color.

Kimberly:
He is gray.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah, this is gray as well. Is that General Prophecy? No, this is General Grievance.

Kimberly:
Let's see. We've got, oh yeah, you do have quite the Star Wars. Don't you?  So some of these guys, you may have all of them. I'm just, I'll be pleased if even that one droid is one that you don't have. There's Yoda with a tan.

Kimberly:
Yes. I even have Yoda with a tan.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You even have Yoda with a clear head.

Kimberly:
I know it's that weird?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah.

Kimberly:
It's a weird collection, yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Darth Vader with black. Ewok.

Kimberly:
Ewok. Oh, I think I have Ewok in a set, maybe, but when when we were talking about it once upon a time, guess what?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, my Captain Crunch. Wow. And I thought,

Kimberly:
No, you kept saying Captain Crunch. I I'm assuming that might be one of your favorite cereals. Sut you need a Captain Crunch.

Superintendent Godfrey:
My son and I tried to eat every variety of Captain Crunch. When Christmas Crunch came out, we systematically had every Christmas, French Christmas. Can have this one?

Kimberly:
That's for you. Yes. Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. He will figure prominently in my office. That is fantastic. That's fun. Wow. Thank you. I'll continue the tour. Oh wow. Chick-Fil-A I'm sorry. I keep mentioning these random Pez dispensers and there's one with a gift card attached toit?

Kimberly:
I think it's empty, but yes, the Target one. I was looking for that and the mom found out and she got it for her.

Superintendent Godfrey:
There's a Geico Gecko one. Tell me about that.

Kimberly:
So, the Geico one is one of my favorites. It was from a student first name Justin. Justin was at Herrmann High School and I worked a lot with him. And his mom worked for Geico and she brought it into me at the end of the school year. Like thank you so much for working with my son. And that's always been special, but a few years ago he ended up passing away, which is awful. And so now that's like really special.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah.

Kimberly:
Knowing that that was from him. The Chick-fil-A is from another student, Tenishia. That was really cool too. I mean, it's kind of fun. It gives me a bond or connection with these kids, you know. I go home and sometimes it's so crazy and stressful and just so fast paced that I don't even have a minute to think, but the majority of it is when I go home and II tell my husband, "Oh my goodness, you should have seen this kid today."

Or, you know, this kid finally opened up to me or this kid got sent down because he was in trouble. But I made him write an apology letter to his teacher and he actually did. And it was cute. And it's just so neat, the difference that these kids make in our lives. And and it's just so wonderful. We have a wonderful Special Ed, a couple of classes here. One of them, their homework is everyday to come and say hi to me from their teacher. And it's just so much fun. It's a very fulfilling job, you know? I leave here many nights with my heart full with kids who are just incredible and make a difference.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. You probably don't look at the clock much during the day.

Kimberly:
Time does fly. The only time we look at the clock is when a kid needs to leave at this time. Did we get them out of here on time?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Making sure they get checked out because the time's going slow.

Kimberly:
What class are we in? But other than that, the time just flies, really fast, really fast.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, as Principal, Donna Hunter talks about her role in turning Kim into the front office Candy Company.

Stacee:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, the Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways during school district counselors can help you and your students school counselors play such an important role in our schools? They provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social well-being of students in our school. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college or just beginning, the conversation of higher education now is a perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor together. Counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed long after they leave Jordan School District. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're in the Oquirrh Hills Middle School Attendance Office with the five attendance aides.

Students:
I'm Bailey. I'm Carson., I'm Jackson. I'm Orson.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What made you want to be an attendance office aid?

Students:
Kimberly did. I did it last year and I loved it. So I wanted to come back.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What did you love about it?

Student:
I think it's a fun class and I like Kimberly. I like to help out the school with stuff and it's just nice. All the people are really nice. So I just kept doing it.

Student:
I had a friend who was in this class last year and I heard that it was really fun, so I wanted to try it out. And I've been in here earlier a few times and Kimberly's really nice. So he's right. It's fun.

Student:
So I am at the office because Kimberly was, and she's a really nice person and I thought it would be nice to come down here.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Show us in the spirit for our school and to have some fun with other people.

Student:
Awesome. I thought it would've been fun and Kimberly was super nice.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. Everyone says that. She's nice. That's definitely it. What do you guys think of the Pez?

Student:
It's really coo how many she has.  I've thought about how long has she collected them for, because she has a ton.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think she has quite a few. Even from the last 10 years. Do you guys ever eat the candy?

Student:
I don't. I just kind of keep them to really look at

Superintendent Godfrey:
Do you have a favorite Pez?

Student:
I do. I like the crayon ones.

Superintendent Godfrey:
The Crayon ones, which color in particular?

Student:
I probably liked the purple.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. I was liking the orange. So we split the set effectively. How about you? What's your favorite?

Student:
I think I like the Star Wars ones a lot, just because I'm a really huge fan of Star Wars.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. I love the Star Wars ones too. I that's where I collect a little bit is with the sStar Wars ones.

Student:
I like the Star Wars ones too. My favorites are the giant ones that she has. I didn't even know those existed and I think they're pretty cool.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Let's open a Pez snap. It that it snapping back? It makes that noise when you're loading it. Let's load it with some candy. Should we try the sugar cookie? That way you can try it. All right. We're going to open up the sugar cookie. Now there's a real trick to it. If you don't like the candy, you're probably not very good at loading it or are you just tense? So you have to pull the whole body out. And then if you open up the full side of the candy wrappers. Good. Right. You can get them all on hand, but otherwise they go all over the floor. Oh, that does. It's bursting with fruit flavor. Wow. Smells good. How could you be sad and smell that? It can smell good. Yeah.

Student:
I'll give the kids candy sometimes. I'll pull it out and say here.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Can I look at what you have? Cotton candy. I've never tried it. Cotton candy flavor. Orange lemon. Oh, and there's a sugar cookie. What's this one sugar cookie candy. All right. Let's try it again. All right. We're fully loaded. All right, let's try it. Let's try the sugar cookie there and do a taste test. Oh wow. It's like, I can taste the frosting too. Okay. I'm going to have another one. Wow. That sugar cookie is actually pretty good. You sure you don't want to try one?

Kimberly:
Wow. Maybe I'll try one. No, no, no. Oh my goodness. It's not bad.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Taste like the Pillsbury dough boy. Like the rolled up holiday theme. That's what it tastes like, a snowman picture in the middle.

Kimberly:
Yeah. It does taste like that. So where did the idea for collecting Pez come from?

Kimberly:
I held back because everyone I work with has heard me answer because this is a huge question that almost everyone asks me. You know, first they say, is this some weird obsession you have, you know, and what does your husband say?

It started out as a white elephant gift from Donna, who's my current principal now. But we used to work together 10 years ago at Herriman High School. And there were three Pez dispensers in there with a few candy. I put them on my desk because I'm thinking, who gave me these because I have no idea where they came from because there was no signature on it or who it was from and put them on my desk. And next thing I know, people started bringing them in saying, "Oh, you collect Pez. Here you go." And before the week was gone, I was collecting Pez dispensers. They were just being brought in from kids from teachers.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Is it kind of like having one hit song and you're only known for that song and you get kind of tired of playing that in concert? Does it get old being the Pez girl sometimes and I'm sure it is for everyone around me?

Kimberly:
Well, no, I think it's okay.It's funny. It's definitely a conversation piece. And  it really has built bridges. It really has. It's been a great conversation piece and something for kids who just need to talk about something. Or even parents come in and we take a trip down memory lane and next thing you know, they leave and we're BFF, you know, we've had our whole Pez connection.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. Yeah. Are there Pez conventions or do you travel?

Kimberly:
Just this last year I think I've reached the level of maybe I'm interested in attending.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. Wow.

Kimberly:
My brother lives in Philadelphia and there's one like two hours away from the Pez Museum. I think it's in New Hampshire and Connecticut. It's in Connecticut. Sorry. And they sell Pez there, but it's also a museum. And so I told my brother, next time I come to see you, I'm gonna rent a car and go visit the Pez Museum.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. We may need to do another Supercast episode when you've done that.

Kimberly:
I will let you know.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That said, that's quite remarkable. We're here with the Principal of Oquirrh Hills Middle, Donna Hunter. Donna has been an educator in a lot of different settings and at a lot of different levels. And now Principal of Oquirrh Hills. And I understand you are the person who started this whole Pez business. Tell us the story.

Donna:
Well, it was kind of an accident because what do you usually do with white elephant gifts? I re-gift them. You throw them away. You give them to your kids or whatever. But apparently I must have touched her heart because she put it up on her desk. And all of a sudden they started multiplying and people kept bringing her stuff. And before you know it, she's running out of space and we couldn't believe it. We laughed about it a lot. And it was really fun. And then she left Herriman. She came here and I walked in one day and she was in the front office and it was like this whole great big Pez display that was so impressive. And she says, "Yeah, you started this". And it just has kept going. And now every one of us, we look for Pez dispensers that she's challenged us to find. Now it's defined or something she hasn't seen before. And for some reason we can still come up with more. I don't know who designed the Pez, but they're genius. Absolute genius. Right?

Superintendent Godfrey:
I agree. I was very proud that I was able to find some that she doesn't have, particularly Star Wars. So I felt good. Tad bit jealous on that.

Oh wow. You now you have some bobble heads. Okay.

Donna:
I do. I have bobbleheads and I have other gifts that kids gave me and then toys that I've stolen from my children.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Is it hard to collect in the shadow of Kimberly?

Donna:
You know, I don't know. I don't even want to try to compete with that because the kids have stopped giving me stuff, except for a hard time. They give me a hard time all the time, but they'll never stop giving stuff to Kimberly because everybody loves her.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. That's no surprise. What's the impact that Kim has on the culture of the school.

Donna:
You mean besides being my guardian angel, she's amazing. I will tell you that she she works so well with kids. They know that they can come see her for a piece of candy. She always gets something out of them for it. They have to be respectful. And she is so kind to parents when they call in with somebody who has a child that is sick. Oh, I how's he doing? You know, we've missed him. And she knows everybody. If I don't know somebody, Kimberly does. And I mean 1300 favorite children, but I don't know all of their names. And I swear to you, she knows everybody.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We witnessed that as I was standing in the office. Just kid after kid came in and she called them by first name, like right off the bat.

Donna:
And that is so valuable. Not only for me, but for the community. And she has recruited people to work here. She has helped. It is so valuable because not only is she part of her school community, she's part of our community and to be able to employ people that are in our area that know our kids makes it even that much more effective. I think she's got a lot of skin in the game.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Have you seen an impact on how kids interact with her and how welcome they feel?

Donna:
You know what? They just know that she's fun. What serious adult wouldn't have a wall full of Pez? Right? Immediately that gives you the clue, that she's going to be friendly and she's going to be fun. And she lives up to that. It's the way  to be approachable. When you see all this molded plastic behind you, with 99.9% sugar in them. That helps. It makes it so this is not a scary place. This is a fun place. It's a welcoming place. And those Pez are going to go down in history. They are part of her legacy. I don't know when she takes him down for the summer, the place looks so bare because she catalogs them during the summer.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You make sure that they're all there. Wow. So she rotates them in and out.

Donna:
Well, they're a made of a durable plastic, so they'll probably outlive us all.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, I'm thinking there is probably at least a thousand here. I can only imagine.

Thanks for joining us on a special Halloween edition of the Supercast. That'd be Halloween. And remember. education is the most important thing you will do today and we'll see you out there.

Show Audio Transcription
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It was created to provide Utah high school students an opportunity to learn, lead and interact with some of the most successful leaders in business, technology, humanities, education and more. We are talking about the Governor’s Honors Academy at Southern Utah University. In this episode of the Supercast, we hear from two Jordan School District students selected to attend the prestigious academy. Find out how it changed their lives, giving them confidence and a head start on the road to higher education with a four-year scholarship.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today we meet two Jordan School District seniors who say their lives were changed by participating in the Governor's Honors Academy at Southern Utah University. The Academy was created to provide Utah high school students an opportunity to learn, lead, and interact with some of the most successful leaders in business technology, humanities, education, and more. Megan Dean, a senior at Copper Hills High and Addison Smith, a senior at Bingham High. We're both selected to attend the prestigious Academy, find out how it changed their lives, giving them confidence and a head start on the road to higher education with a four year scholarship. First, we visit Megan in her Peer Tutoring Class at Copper Hills High, where she is doing something. She loves working to support students who have special needs.

Megan:
Let's read this again, "Wear sunscreen when you're out in the sun." Wipe it on your skin and get that protection from burning, right.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're here with Megan in her natural habitat, Copper Hills High School. Megan, you are the president of CH Pals. Tell us a little bit about that.

Megan:
So CH Pals is the club where we take the students with severe disabilities and we involve them into mainstream student life. We hold socials for them. We take them to a bunch of school events like football games, basketball games.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Tell me a little bit about the Governor's Honors Academy. I think a lot of people haven't heard of it, and what's involved.

Megan:
So, this is a program that teaches high school students, their junior and senior year about leadership, communication, goals, and just about our futures. It was a really, really awesome week. We took classes from multiple people. CEOs, multimillionaires, people who taught us about leadership and how to be successful and goals and visions.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Megan, who were some of the people that you heard from that really stood out, that were particularly impactful for you?

Megan:
Some of my favorite speakers were Stuart Jones, Derek Anderson, David Litchford. I liked the Morley brothers too. There were a lot of other speakers, but I think those are the people that stuck out to me the most.

(03:08):
What are some of the things that you learned from them?

(03:11):
Stuart Jones talks about "What's your, why?" Which is, basically, what's your purpose in doing what you're doing? Another one of my favorite speakers was Stewart Jones and he also talked about "What's your why, what's your purpose?" And one of the activities he did was one of the most impactful things at GHA for me. It was an activity called Standing Up for your Brothers and Sisters of GHA. He gave us a paper with lists of different struggles that we go through and we filled them out and we did it anonymously. And then we crumbled up the paper and put it in a bag and we got somebody else's. And so he would, one at a time, read the struggles and then we would stand up for this person. And it was a good reminder, just that like nobody was never alone in the struggles we went through and that we were there for each other and it was one of my favorite activities.

Superintendent Godfrey:
When you heard from all of these successful people, what about their messages surprised you?

Megan:
I think one of the things that surprised me the most was that I don't know, in my mind, I always just kinda thought successful people just kind of had it all. But I found that some people came from nothing and I know that's a thing. But to see it right in front of my face was really cool. One of the speakers dropped out of middle school, I want to say and worked. And now he is a millionaire, billionaire or something like that because he found success in different areas. There is another man, his name is David Litchford. He has his entire life grown up being bullied and he struggled, but now he's very successful and he's a really good motivational speaker. And I think it was cool to see just these people come from not that much and to have strength. It's something really powerful to say. I thought that was cool.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. It's something you hear about. It's in the media, it's in the movie, but to really meet someone who has gone from having some really serious struggles and not having very much to being extremely successful, I would think is very inspiring.

Megan:
It was for sure. It kind of taught me that if I just work hard and devote to what I want to do, it just really taught me that I can be successful where I want to be, if I work hard with it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And some of that success, which they emphasized is connecting with others and supporting others around you.

Megan:
Yeah. They, I think they really emphasize and really made it clear that all of their success came from others. You can't ever do anything on your own. You're always going to run into roadblocks and you're always going to have struggles and to get through them, you need others and you need the support to just balance.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And as part of the Governor's Honors Academy, you receive a scholarship. Is that correct?

Megan:
Yes. I received a four year full tuition scholarship for attending that Academy. So that's fabulous.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Megan, I have no doubt you're going to be a strong leader as part of this. I know you contacted me before the Academy, part of the job was to contact sponsors. You did a great job communicating and I even got a thank you card and a nice picture from you. And I can just tell that you're a great young woman with a wonderful future. So thanks for spending time with me and congratulations on your success with the Honors Academy.

Megan:
Thank you so much.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Stay with us when we come back more on the Governor's Honors Academy and how students can work to be a part of the prestigious leadership program.

Stacee Worthen:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways during school that District Counselors can help you and your students? School counselors play such an important role in our schools. They provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social well-being of students in our school. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college or just beginning the conversation of higher education, now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your students counselor. Together, counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed, long after they leave Jordan School District. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're here with Addison Smith to talk about her experience at the Governor's Honors Academy. Addison, thanks for joining me.

Addison:
Thank you for having me.

Superintendent Godfrey:
First of all, how did you hear about this? I think a lot of people don't know that it exists.

Addison:
I heard about this from my neighbor, who works as a school counselor and he knows my grades and everything. He has kept up scholarship-wise for me and suggested that I apply.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So your grades are good, I gather.

Addison:
I do my best to keep them up.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I'm sure you do. You're a student at Bingham High School. Are you a senior this year?

Addison:
Yes, I'm a senior this year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So, you heard about this from your neighbor who's a school counselor. You applied and were awarded the opportunity to attend. I know that as a part of this, you were supposed to call and ask local businesses to sponsor you. Is that a little frightening to make phone calls like that?

Addison:
It is honestly terrifying, but it was so nice to be able to go out and actually do it. It taught me a lot about courage and being willing to talk to people.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Old people, like me, do talk about the fact that people talk on the phone less these days, and it becomes more and more difficult if you haven't done it before. We all have difficulty picking up the phone and calling strangers, particularly if we're asking for a donation. I'm very impressed. And, by the way, you did a great job talking with me about that. So I have no doubt that you did a great job there at the Governor's Honors Academy as well. But tell me, you applied, you got in, you raised the money to be a part of that. Tell me about what your experience was like.

Addison:
Overall, the experience was just mind boggling. I had no idea what I was walking into. I learned so much. They taught me things that I would normally not even think of, that are important. That is super important how we interact with everybody else and just the way we present ourselves.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What's one way that you learned to do a better job of presenting yourself.

Addison:
Just showing that you're more confident, believe in yourself, dressing the part. If you are going to a meeting or anything, dress more like you are professional and just be who you are essentially. You want them to see be who you are.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Putting your best foot forward is a great skill. And it sounds like you had some wonderful examples of how to do that. What were some of the speakers that you heard from?

Addison:
Probably favorite speaker was Garrett Gunderson. He taught a lot about how you need to have a vision for your life and what it's going to affect after you're done. And we also heard from like Steve and Cindy Gilbert, who are pretty well known. Steve is a ranch-hand and owns a ranch down in Southern Utah and Cindy is a well known lawyer.  And they said, don't be dependent on others, if that makes sense.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So they taught a lesson about self-reliance.

Addison:
Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So you said that Mr. Gunderson talked with you about having a vision and following that vision. What vision have you developed for yourself as a result of being part of that Academy?

Addison:
I've always had the idea of wanting to make a difference and making a vision has kind of been hard to so right now. I want to start out by going through and making other people more aware of opportunities like the Governor's Honors Academy, and then also being there to show that there are more opportunities for you to help change people's lives, even if you don't realize you're doing it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I do think a lot of people don't understand just how much of an impact they can have. Is there something that you learned from the Honors Academy that you will remember for the rest of your life?

Addison:
Yes. Perspective is everything.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you mean by that?

Addison:
Most of the time, you will not see everything that occurs in a situation, but if you seek to understand it, you'll be in a much better position and can do what you need to do, essentially.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So understanding that you may not have the full perspective at the situation and being willing to learn more about it will get you a lot farther down the road.

Addison:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I love what you've been learning at theGovernor's Honors Academy. Tell me what you learned from the other people that you got to know. I understand there's a fair amount of interaction with other attendees.

Addison:
Yes. I can't honestly can't specifically say one thing in particular. Each person taught me something different. I had people who taught me I need to get out more. I need to be myself. And I had other people give different ideas into things that I had no an idea about before.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How has this changed your life?

Addison:
It's really affected how I viewed things. Just anything that comes into my life daily, like the standard assignment given at school. I was recently given the assignment to go and make a new friend every day for a week, as part of my life skills class and finding that courage is really hard to do. But with GHA, I already had that experience with all the other participants. And so it was a lot easier just to go up and say Hi and make a conversation.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So once you've been essentially forced to make some friends in a circumstance where you're in tight quarters and you're close together and you know you're in it together for the week, that that skill has already transferred to real life and classroom situations.

Addison:
Yeah, absolutely.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What they taught you about confidence has obviously worked and it's been awesome talking with you.

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

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They donate more blood to ARUP than any other group or organization in the State of Utah. We’re talking about Jordan School District high school students.

On this episode of the Supercast, we visit a blood drive at Copper Hills High organized by HOSA students. We talk to the student donors and find out why CHHS manages to donate a record amount of blood each year and why ARUP couldn’t do their life-saving work without students.


Audio Transcription

(00:17):
Hello, and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They donate more blood to ARUP than any other group or organization in the entire State of Utah. We're talking about Jordan School District high school students. Today, we visit a blood drive at Copper Hills High organized by HOSA students. HOSA is Health Occupation Students of America, and it is a club that promotes career opportunities in the healthcare industry. Every year, Copper Hills High students managed to donate a record amount of blood. ARUP is the sole provider of blood to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Shriners Hospital for children. And you have hospitals and clinics. They say their life-saving work simply wouldn't happen without help from students. Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Ethan Woods.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And what is it that makes you want to give blood today?

Student:
Well, it's an easy and quick way to do service, especially with COVID-19. It's really hard to serve in the community and me personally, having O negative blood, I know that's really needed right now. And so, it's a really good way to give back to my community.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Giving O negative is a big positive. You're a rare breed. That's awesome. Do you do it for the free Gatorade?

Student:
Partially. The treats are a really nice bonus.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Have you given blood before?

Student:
I have given blood, I think three times before here, all part of the Copper Hills blood drive.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. So the needle is in your relaxed arm, how are you feeling?

Student:
It's like a feeling of calmness, I guess, because there's all the anxiety getting the needle in. But once it's actually in, I generally feel just really calm and relaxed.

Superintendent Godfrey:
There really are a lot of things like that in life.The anticipation is the worst. When you're sitting there giving blood, do you think about the fact that you're saving a life, that you're providing help to someone who can't get it any other way?

Student:
Probably something that I think about, I get calls from ARUP when they confirm that my blood has been used. I've done research about it and I know that O negative is one of the blood types that they use when they don't know an infant's blood type and the infant needs to be saved. So that's something I generally think about when donating blood.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's awesome. Do you get to use this as an excuse for turning something in late or taking a test perhaps?

Student:
Well, I get to use it for service hours for the National Honor Society Club and I also get to miss class time, so that's great.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I know the reason you're doing it is to help people. It's nice to get a little icing on that cake though.

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What year in school are you?

Student:
I'm a senior.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you want to do?

Student:
I want to go into film production, actually.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's exciting. What are your favorite movies?

Student:
I really love mystery movies, so like Clue the Classic.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Ah, yeah. Good. Nice, well, good luck with your career aspirations and thanks for being an inspiration donating blood today.

Student:
Thank you.

Student:
Well, I'm one of the hosts of council members. I'm just making sure everybody's 6 feet apart and what's your name?

Student:
It's Dixie Mulsatey.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And you do get to give out the snacks.

Student:
Well, yeah, kind of. Well, everybody just gets pick.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Everyone gets to pick.

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So you're not here to give them out. You're here more to protect them from people who want to overindulge.

Student:
Maybe.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What's the most popular?

Student:
The Fruit Roll-up.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, the fruit by the foot. Yes. Excellent choice. Definitely.

Student:
And I think the cheeses.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How long have you been involved in HOSA?

Student:
This is gonna be my second year, but this year I'm part of the council members.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What does the blood drive mean to you as a member of HOSA?

Student:
I feel like it's a sign of hope. It i really brings our school together because one of our schools was one of the most hubs. They depend on us a lot and our schools is one of the biggest donors. So it's really nice to bring everyone together and give more, you know, we're helping everybody out.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Ila Mikich.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Ila, tell me about HOSA for those who aren't familiar with the organization. What do you do? It is what it stands for.

Student:
Well, HOSA stands for Health Occupation Students of America. And it's basically just a club for anyone that is interested in the medical field. And it's a really great club. It's very welcoming. The advisors and the students members, they're all very, very kind and respectful. We do lots of service projects. Like last year we did a rice bags for children at the hospital for the cancer patients this year. We're planning on doing like fleece blankets for them too. We also do a lot of medical related stuff. We might even have a surgery we're going to watch, like a surgery and a virtual surgery happened this year.

What is HOSA's involvement in the blood drive?

Student:
HOSA's involvement? Well we have our host, some members and our advisors. We try to get as many people as we can to sign up for the blood drive. So we promote it for about two weeks before the blood drive happens. Today, we are just helping out by standing here, making sure everyone gets checked in. And then you have someone assigned, making sure everyone is social distancing.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What percentage of those who sign up show up last year?

Student:
I know we had about 150 people sign and usually have like about 120 people show up.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a really good showing. That's really good. Thanks for the work you're doing. I think it's fantastic.

Student:
Yeah. Thanks.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thanks for talking with us. Stay with us to hear more about students who are helping to save lives by donating blood.

Stacee Worthen:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways during school that District counselors can help you and your students? School counselors play such an important role in our schools. They provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social well-being of students in our school. And, if you were in the process of preparing a student for college or just beginning the conversation of higher education, now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor. Together, counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed, long after they leave Jordan School District. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're here with Rob from ARUP at the Copper Hills High School blood drive. This is not the first blood drive Copper Hills High School has gone.

Rob:
Copper Hills is actually the largest blood drive we hold all year. We hold the four individual drives with Copper Hills throughout the school year, collect more units here than we do from any of our other sponsors.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Any sponsor. Now, does that mean any other high school sponsor?

Rob:
Any sponsor, other church, any other University and any other businesses. Copper Hills and their drives collects more blood for us than any of the other sponsors.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Why do you think that is? What is it about Copper Hills?

Rob:
I haven't been able to put a finger on it. The teachers are always enthusiastic and I think that enthusiasm spills over into the students. And every time I come here, there's just been a great outpouring of support. Students are willing to put the effort into it and willing to make sure that the blood drives are successful.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I think it's a great tradition and that sounds like it's built momentum over the years. That makes us number one. I like to hear that.

Rob:
Yes, it's a great tradition. It's actually, you can have a great tradition in Jordan District. Some of the biggest high schools in the state here that are holding blood drives with, we collect nearly a thousand units of blood from all of the schools combined and Copper Hills kind of leads the way. But all the other schools are running right close behind.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Are there some groups that have decided not to sponsor a blood drive this year because of the pandemic?

Rob:
Since around March 12th when most of the drives started canceling, the majority of the drives that canceled were business drives. They were sending their employees home, working from home. And drives are still continuing to cancel on a regular basis. Our business drives we're seeing through the summer, since the pandemic came into full effect, we've seen a lot of church sponsored blood drives, and that's been kind of our main support through the summer.

But now that the schools are back in, we're seeing the schools wanting to put in keep the drives going and put in the effort to help us be here. The students are so willing to support the blood drives. We've just been really looking forward and hoping that the school stay open. If we can be here to hold these drives, is it just so well supported and we're so grateful for the efforts of the students and their advisor.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So without students you'd be in trouble.

Rob:
We would, we'd still be struggling along. We were averaging around 20 blood drives a month since April. We should be upwards of 45 to 50. We were averaging about 17 units of blood every single blood drive, which is less than half of what we would normally average. So now that we're back into the schools, we're hoping to see that average go up. We definitely have more drives on the calendar. We're just hoping and praying that the units are coming in.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What are some of the precautions being taken to make sure that blood drives are safe in the midst of a pandemic?

Rob:
As many as the CDC has put out and as we can actually instigate or implement in one of our blood drives. We're doing it. Our staff, when they show up to our facility to get ready to go to a blood drive, puts on a mask, then they wear that mask through the entire day, in transit to the drive, mask while they're at the blood drive, unless they're having their lunch or taking a drink they stay masked. And then they stay masked in transit back to our facility, as they check out and do with the end of the day work. And then they don't take their mask off again until they leave. We are doing regular checks for their temperatures to make sure that they're staying healthy, asking them to self quarantine if they have any sort of illness symptom. We are testing the staff on a weekly basis to make sure that everybody's safe. When we come to a facility for a blood drive, we're measuring out spacing between waiting areas and actual working stations to make sure that we've gotten the physical distancing.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Where does the blood go?

Rob:
Where does the blood go? Wow, we're the sole provider of blood to Huntsman Cancer Hospital, the University Hospital in their clinics and the Shriner's Hospital for children and a couple other facilities around the Salt Lake Valley.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And what's the need level right now?

Rob:
Boy, I put it this way. The need is always increasing. We need blood every single day. Hard to say exactly how much we're going to need every day. Each day is a little bit different. Earlier in September, we had 25 patients come into the hospital. One of those patients used 179 products on their own. That is two Copper Hills is blood drives to one patient. But then  yesterday, we had 36 patients come in and 46 products were used. So it just kind of depends on the day. The best way to put it is there's a constant need on a daily basis. And that need doesn't diminish. It's just always there.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How long does blood stay good for?  How long can it be used after it's been donated?

Rob:
From a whole blood unit, we'll take generally two products, red blood cells and plasma red blood cells last for about 35 days. Plasma can be frozen because it's mostly water and it will last for about a year. Usually within that 35 days shelf life, those red blood cells are used.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So, based on the need you described, it would be pretty rare for anything to expire or get even close.

Rob:
Very rare, this time of year and what the conditions we are in now. Very rare.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What are the qualifications to donate blood who's eligible and who isn't?

Rob:
Basically, we're looking for donors that are healthy and well no symptoms of any illness, not just COVID-19, but just any illness. That's the first check for any of our blood donors. Are you feeling healthy and well today? High school is a little bit different because we have to make sure that the donors have the body mass, so they have enough blood in their system to be able to donate. But in general, donors need to be 110 pounds 16, 17, 18 years old. Sixteen is the youngest we'll take. Most people are eligible to donate blood. We'll put it that way. Most just need realize that they can do it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What would someone need to do if they wanted to participate in giving blood?

Rob:
Best way for them is to go to our website, utahblood.org. They can reach out to us through that way. They can a blood drive there, or they can at least get in touch with us and we can help them find the closest drive to them. We've got drives all over the State every single month. Well, all over Northern Utah, Utah County up into Cache County. They just need to get in touch with us and we can help them find the drive that's closest to them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So what would you say to students who have been participating in been supporting the blood drives? Not just this year, but over the years.

Rob:
First of all, thank you so much. You've been a great contributor to the lives of so many. It would be awesome to be able to take you to the hospital and introduce you to these people, and to their families who you've helped support and save lives, but we don't get to do that. All I can tell you is thank you. And there are so many out there, my brother included, that that wouldn't be alive today without your efforts.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How did the HOSA students, the Health Occupation Students of America get involved in helping set these up? What's their role?

Rob:
Their role is from beginning to end. I contacted the advisor. The advisor helps me get blood drives on the schedule. And then I meet with the advisor and the students three to four weeks outside of a blood drive to talk to them about how the day needs to be set up, what needs to be in place for each one of the donors, make sure that they understand the process that needs to be gone through so that all the donors that are coming to the drive as prepared as possible. They're here at the drives helping check in students, making sure that they're coming with everything that they need to be prepared to donate. They're here in the canteen, watching the donors after they've donated to make sure that they're feeling well, but the most important job that they play is making sure that the donors are getting signed up. They're recruiting for us. They're our mouthpiece when we can't be. They're the ones that are talking the blood drives up, encouraging the people to donate the sign up, to donate and encouraging people to be here. So without them, we wouldn't be able to hold it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's the best kind of peer pressure.

Rob:
Absolutely.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you, Rob. Appreciate it.

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

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