2021 Apex Award winners announced, honored by Canyons School District

Twelve educators, administrators, community supporters, leaders, and public education advocates who helped Canyons School District run — and drive — smoothly during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond received the prestigious 2021 Canyons Apex Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.

Winners of the 12th annual Apex Awards, the highest honors given by the Canyons District, were selected by Board of Education members and the Superintendent after peers and the public participated in a nomination process.

The Canyons’ 2021 Apex Award winners are:

  • Teacher of the Year— Alta High’s Traci Raymond, who has brought the art of dance to life for so many students.
  • School Administrator of the Year — Brighton High Principal Tom Sherwood, who oversaw a school year in a pandemic while a school was being built around him.
  • District Administrator of the Year— Human Resources Director Steve Dimond, who spearheaded the District’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics with surgical precision.
  • Education Support Professionals of the Year— Transportation Department’s Lorraine MilesJeff Wren, and Rick Hoggard, who are the driving force behind Canyons District’s driving force.
  • Student Support Services Professional of the Year— Diamond Ridge High Principal Amy Boettger, whose tough love inspires even the toughest-to-reach students.
  • Volunteer of the Year— Alta View Elementary volunteer  Allyn Kau, who hasn’t met a task that she won’t meet with a smile while helping young students.
  • Elected Official of the Year—  Andrew Stoddard, R-Sandy, who represents CSD with integrity and fidelity on Capitol Hill.
  • Business Partner of the Year — SCHEELS, a sporting goods store that seems more like a friend from its generous donations and volunteer hours.
  • Legacy Award— Former Assistant Superintendent  Kathryn McCarrie and first-ever Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling, two founding administrators of Canyons District who were among the chief architects of an academic plan that has led thousands of students to reach for their dreams through education.

“Albert Einstein once said that there are only two ways to live your life: ‘One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle,’” CSD Board of Education President Nancy Tingey said. “My friends, all of you are the miracles that inspire us, lift us up, and make us better just for having known you. Thank you for all you do, every day, for our students.”

A ceremony and by-invitation-only banquet were held in honor of the Apex Award winners Tuesday night at Midvalley Elementary, one of the 17 new schools Canyons has opened in the past 12 years thanks to the Board of Education’s vision and support of the community through two voter-approved school-improvement bonds in 2010 and ‘17.

Along with deserved recognition, Apex Awards recipients receive engraved crystal awards, an 8×10 framed copy of the posters created to be displayed in the Board of Education room in their honor, and a plate of Betty Shaw’s famous fudge.

“The chance to interact with the fine people of our District is one of the best parts of serving on the Board of Education,” Tingey said. “We don’t make it a secret that we believe the very best educators, support staff, and community supporters are found in this District.  For proof of this, I look no further than the people being honored tonight. I’m proud to be on the same team as the winners of our Apex Awards.”

This celebration for this deserving group of the community’s crème de la crème, which was attended by friends, family, District officials, mayors, state legislators, and other dignitaries, marked the first-ever at an elementary school and was the first in-person Apex event since 2019. The 2020 Apex winners, who were invited to attend this year’s fête, were recognized in a virtual ceremony broadcast last year because of the pandemic.

Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins, attending his first in-person Apex Awards ceremony since starting his role in July 2020, also announced the first recipients of the new Superintendent Special Recognition Award: Board of Education President Nancy Tingey, Dr. Brandon Webb and Tonya Rhodes.

Tingey, the event’s master of ceremonies, was surprised with a special recognition for her steadfast leadership and selfless devotion while fearlessly guiding the District through the pandemic, ensuring that students continued to learn in a healthy environment and progress toward being — and graduate — college- and career-ready.

Dr. Webb, a Canyons District parent who works with Intermountain Healthcare’s Division of Infectious Disease and Clinical Epidemiology, has spent countless hours advising the District on how to proceed in a public-health crisis. Rhodes devoted an innumerable amount of time supporting the well-being and success of the children and families in Canyons as the Region 17 PTA Director before recently stepping down.

“It’s not an understatement to say that the work in our schools since March of 2020 has been a heavy lift,” Dr. Robins said. “Frankly, it’s been back-breaking. The days were long. The issues were complex. Emotions ran high. But tough times make for tough people, and our community has found that we are the toughest — and the strongest — when we stand together.”

Flickering candles were placed among fall-centric decorations in the Midvalley gymnasium to recognize Suicide Awareness Month and efforts the District is making to reach out to students who are struggling with difficult emotions.

“To us, this light represents the spirit we see in the eyes of our students,” Tingey said. “We care so much about the social and emotional wellness of the children in our schools, and we will continue working hard to make sure the light in our children’s eyes continue to shine bright.”

Apply Online for CSD’s Popular Dual-Language Immersion Programs

Did you know that Canyons District has some of the most extensive language immersion offerings in Utah? Twenty-one elementary and secondary schools offer dual-language immersion programs in Spanish, French, or Chinese — and it’s nearly time to apply to enroll for the 2022-2023 school year.

The start of October signals the opening of the window to apply for CSD’s popular Dual Language Immersion Programs. Parents and guardians can apply online anytime from Monday, Oct. 4, 2021 to Nov. 23, 2021.

In addition, families interested in learning about these programs are invited to attend an informational meeting for parents. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 from 6-8 p.m. in the Canyons Center at the Canyons District Office, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.

Please note: Students with siblings who are currently enrolled in one of CSD’s DLI  schools must still submit applications by the Nov. 23, 2021 deadline. A lottery will be held to determine entrance into the programs if the number of applicants exceeds the 56 seats available per entering class.

On the application, parents will be asked to list their top three choices for placement. Parents will be notified of their children’s offer for placement into a program or placement on a waitlist by Jan. 7, 2022. All, but the program offered at Midvale Elementary, are for students entering first grade in 2022-2023.

The program at Midvale Elementary starts in kindergarten. Due to the fact that enrollment at Midvale Elementary is at-capacity, that school’s program is only open to students who live within the school’s boundaries.  Applications for Midvale’s Dual Language Immersion program will be handled through the school.

Spanish is offered at Alta View, Altara, Midvalley and Silver Mesa. French is offered at Butler Elementary and Oak Hollow. The schools offering Mandarin are Draper Elementary, Lone Peak, and Ridgecrest.

Immersion programs, a model of bilingual education dating back to the 1960s,  are surfacing in classrooms around the globe as an efficient path to proficiency in a world language. Elementary students in dual language immersion programs spend half the day learning core subjects in English and the other half learning in a target language.

CSD’s first immersion classes opened in 2009, the same year that the District was founded. More than 10 percent of CSD’s 34,000 students are now learning a world language through the program, which extends through high school. Students who pass an Advanced Placement exam in the 9th or 10th grades can start taking college-level courses for early college credit.

Questions? Call the Instructional Supports Department at 801-826-5026.

You’re busy, and want to get involved in your child’s school. Where should you start?

Dr. Angela Wilkinson, Sunrise Elementary Principal.
Dr. Angela Wilkinson, Sunrise Elementary Principal.

It’s been said that parents are their child’s first, and most important, teacher — a truism reinforced by research showing how important a strong school-to-home connection is to student success.

But what does it mean to be involved in your child’s education? Parents are busy and can’t do it all: check the backpack, monitor all of their children’s daily assignments, help with homework, attend school events, and volunteer in the classroom. So, where should they start? What questions should they be asking? How can they make the most of parent-teacher conferences? What barriers, fears, or misunderstandings get in the way of parents and teachers working together to help kids thrive?

Last year, Connect Canyons interviewed some PTA representatives to discuss the many ways families can connect with their neighborhood school.  This year, we decided to get the perspective of a school principal: Sunrise Elementary Principal Dr. Angela Wilkinson.

Speaking from her perspective as a career educator, Dr. Wilkinson shared some of the ways Canyons District schools are building bridges with families. During the pandemic, for example, schools found ways to host parent-teacher conferences remotely, which actually helped boost participation. It’s a time-saving innovation that schools are still putting to use this year.

Dr. Wilkinson also offered great insight into how parents can focus their efforts, even touching on questions parents should be asking to understand how their children’s learning is progressing so they can better support learning at home.

After all, it’s one thing to help with homework. It’s another to know that your child is missing foundational concepts — such as memorizing “math facts” (addition, subtraction and times tables) — so you can spend your time on what matters most.

“We appreciate parent involvement in the schools. We couldn’t do it without our parent volunteers,” Dr. Wilkinson said. “Last year with our not being to have volunteers in the buildings [due to state COVID19-related health protocols], it’s made you appreciate it even more.”

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