UPDATE ON BOND PROJECTS
On June 26, 2012, residents within the Weber School District boundaries approved a $65 million bond to fund construction improvements to existing facilities and construction of new schools. Construction began in earnest after the election and will continue into 2017. A brief update of the projects is as follows:
Lex L. Puffer
Recently, the superintendency and a team from the district office visited each elementary school and read to students. This year’s book for upper elementary school children is titled, The Treasure, by Uri Shulevitz. It’s really a book about listening to your heart and pursuing your dreams. After reading the book at Uintah Elementary School, I asked a group of fourth grade children what they believed was the story’s message. One thoughtful young man concluded beautifully, “No dream is too big; no dreamer too small.” I love being taught by children!
Nothing is more vital to our work with young people than to help them explore their passions, develop their talents and pursue their dreams. I love being around children because they are so passionate about their dreams. I once read a poem posted on a teacher’s door that captures the essence of what education can be at its very best—full of infinite possibilities, imagination, and dreams. The poem boldly says to students that no matter where you’ve come from, who you’ve been, or what your circumstances are, when you enter this classroom everything is possible. Written by Jeff Moss, the poem is called, “On the Other Side of the Door.” I’ll quote a few verses,
On the other side of the door
I don’t have to go alone.
If you come, too, we can sail tall ships
And fly where the wind has flown.
We’ll find what we’re looking for
Because everything can happen
On the other side of the door.
The world has been inspired by one young Pakistani girl, Malala, who was shot last year by the Taliban for her determined efforts to defend girls’ rights to an education. Malala survived the attack and refuses to let her dreams be silenced. Rather, she has become an inspiration to men, women and children around the world. On July 12, 2013, Malala’s sixteenth birthday, she spoke at the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. It was her first public speech since the attack. She said, “The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.” Malala is helping girls comprehend their own dreams of learning and gaining an education. One Pakistani girl said, “Malala has made me realize that there is no limit to my opportunities.” Malala embodies what that insightful fourth grade Uintah student observed, “No dream is too big; no dreamer too small.”
For all of us who are privileged to work with young people every day, we must never forget to nurture their dreams and ambitions. More important than test scores, helping children achieve their fullest potential is our greatest opportunity. I appreciate each of your efforts to make young dreams become reality.
SCHOOL SAFETY PROCEDURES
As a result of the Sandy Hook shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012, many school districts across the nation have examined the safety procedures in their schools. In Weber School District, our first priority is to insure the safety and wellbeing of our students and employees. We have taken a deliberate, thoughtful approach on how best to accomplish this. We made a determination to research and use best practice as we make modifications to our current safety policies. Recognizing that law enforcement is in the best position to give input on current best safety protocol, we invited the Weber County Sheriff and Police Chiefs from each city in our district to meet in early January with district level administrators and begin dialog on how we can work with each other in a cohesive partnership for the safety of our schools.
As a group, we identified four areas of concern that we needed to address: 1) Building Security; 2) School Resource Officers; 3) Video Security System; and, 4) Offender Prevention. These committees have spent a vast amount of time researching best current practice that we can implement in our schools.
During the month of September, a district office administrator and a trained law enforcement officer will visit with the faculty and staff of all 44 schools and train them on a standard response protocol (SRP) that WSD has adopted called, “I Love You Guys.” This Standard Response Protocol has been widely recommended by law enforcement agencies across the nation as best practice and after careful research and study the Weber Board of Education has adopted this model as our response protocol. This SRP includes a uniform school/classroom response to various school incidents. This SRP is included within the school safety plan and includes four main steps: Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter. For more information on the “I Love You Guys” program and why it was so named, go to:
Although the goal of Weber School District is to educate children and prepare them to become College & Career ready, we recognize that our highest priority is to ensure the safety of each of our 31,000+ students and all staff members.
Lex L. Puffer
Recently I attended a funeral of a person I held in high esteem. The tributes to this fine lady were well deserved and well spoken.Of all the remarkable achievements this individual had accomplished perhaps the most profound statement to me was a tribute made by her son when he stated that one of the most important things his mother had taught him and given to him was a love of reading.
He humbly declared what a gift that had been in his life and how extremely grateful he was to his mother for always taking the time to read a story to him. Surprisingly, he mentioned that even while in high school his mother would read to him and how he and his mother travelled the world, many time over, through the pages of books.
This past month a few of us at the District Office have had the pleasure of reading to various classes throughout our elementary schools. What joy it has been to see several classes crunch together to hear a story. What fun it has been to see their different expressions as the plots unfold. The discussions after were priceless as each child had their own interpretation of the tale.
In a world of instant media, video game overload and marketing madness, taking time to read to a child verges on the realm of almost being a sacred experience. Our future generations need these moments where the loud world of advertising and enticing messages are held at bay by page turning books that delight and inspire. When we do this we convey far more than the story, we let them know they matter and they are our investment in the future. To be able to expand their minds and take them to far away places is exhilarating. It is one of life’s sweetest pleasures, you have focused time together and you can teach a habit that can open countless doors throughout their lives.
Reading exercises our brains and improves concentration. Reading teaches children about the world around them. Through reading they learn new vocabulary skills, they develop more highly developed language all of which helps in their ability to write, imagine and understand. Harry Truman is credited with the quote “not every reader is a leader, but every leader must be a reader.”
This past summer one of my goals was to locate a book that was read to me by my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Smith. It was called “The Gentle House”. I remember coming in from recess and having her read this book to our class. She would laugh as she recited some of the antics of the family. I remember well how she delighted in turning the pages and watching our class as we went through the chapters. Fortunately, I did locate an old copy. Strangely enough as I have turned the pages it has brought a sense of warmth, comfort and tranquility, after all those years.
If you get the opportunity to read to a child I hope you seize the moment. There’s a reading genre for every person on the planet, classical literature, poetry, biographies, self-help guides, fiction, or non-fiction. I know there will be something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination. When you open a book, especially with a child near by, you have the power to impact their world in infinite ways and while doing so you will replenish your soul.
My Best To You Always,
Last March, I had the unique privilege to meet the renowned author and poet, Maya Angelou, prior to her speaking to a large audience of educators. Undoubtedly, Dr. Angelou is an American treasure! She began her speech with a song of hope and gratitude: "When it looked like the sun wouldn't shine anymore; God put a rainbow in the cloud. It's not just that we have rainbows in the sky," she explained, "but in the clouds themselves. So, even when it seems as though the storm won't let up, we have something there to encourage us." Dr. Angelou then told this large body of teachers that they, too, are "rainbows in the clouds" for the children they teach.
As I reflect back on my life, the brightest rainbows in the clouds for me are past teachers. I was fortunate to have the same kindergarten and first grade teacher, Mrs. Bennett, a wonderful teacher and truly a rainbow in my life. Mrs. Schoof was as loving and kind a teacher that I've ever known. Miss Pratt was firm and demanding, but inspired within me a love of literature, which has stayed with me throughout my life. I've had so many teachers who are rainbows in the clouds.
As we begin this school year, I encourage each of our teachers and support professionals to find opportunities to be rainbows in the clouds for students. You are in a unique position to inspire, build, encourage, and lift young people. Please try to recognize those children whose lives may be storm-ravaged and then become a rainbow in their cloud.
I want to thank each of you for your commitment to educating young people. The Weber School District is filled with caring adults who are rainbows in the clouds for our students. You make a difference with each word of encouragement and expression of hope.