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District Newsletter – December 18, 2023

Dr. Elizabeth Grant

Dear Salt Lake City School District community and families,

As I reflect at the end of another calendar year, I am filled with gratitude to be part of this community. The last six months have been a powerful learning experience, and I love being with you in the Salt Lake City School District.

In the first half of my first school year as superintendent, I’ve visited schools across the district and note with wonder the remarkable work of teachers and students engaged in both the seriousness and joy of learning. It takes a community to support the critical work of education, and I’ve seen that community strength in each of our schools. Thank you to our staff, teachers, leaders, families, and friends for your continued support of our students and our schools.

In the spirit of the season, I extend my warmest wishes for a joyful, safe, and heartwarming holiday season for you and your loved ones. With you, I look forward to the new year and all that it will bring as we build Salt Lake City School District into the flagship district in our state.

Warmly,

Elizabeth Grant, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Salt Lake City School District


UTAH STEM ECOSYSTEM

Last week, we held a celebration for the Utah STEM Ecosystem, which was started here in the Salt Lake City School District. This innovative program – the first of its kind in the state of Utah – brings together businesses, community partners, and local colleges and universities to work with the Salt Lake City School District and the Salt Lake Education Foundation to improve access, outcomes, and opportunity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for Salt Lake City School District students at all grade levels. The Utah STEM Ecosystem is part of the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice that includes more than 94 global STEM Ecosystems. We are thrilled to be recognized in Utah as a leader in aspiration, innovation, and implementation of robust STEM programs and initiatives to grow a sustainable STEM workforce in Utah.

Here are some of the innovative programs we’ve brought to our students under the Utah STEM Ecosystem umbrella in the last year alone:

  1. In collaboration with the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office and BioHive, we held the Human Innovations Summit 2022 aimed at connecting students to health science careers.
  2. We launched UPSTEM Northwest, a new STEM partnership at Northwest Middle School thanks to a generous grant from Boeing.
  3. In partnership with Hill Air Force Base and the Department of Defense, we’ve brought STARBASE Hill STEM’s hands-on, minds-on approach to STEM to Salt Lake City School District fifth graders.
  4. We’ve implemented opportunities for outdoor learning for 5th and 6th graders, in collaboration with Wasatch Mountain Institute.
  5. We held our district Science & Engineering Fair/Invention Convention for STEM student projects that can advance to regional and national competition.
  6. We’ve obtained several grants to support early exposure and access to STEM education in our district elementary schools through Up STEM Elementary: Computer Science and Robotics program. Creating a seamless computer science programming trajectory from students from elementary to secondary means broader support for students who may transition into programming or robotics careers post-high school.
  7. We’ve continued to support FIRST Robotics, West High School’s premier competitive robotics program.
  8. We then seek to create partnerships, internships, and apprenticeships with local companies to ensure that our students have workforce opportunities while they are in the district and also as they successfully graduate.  

We are committed to Superintendent Grant’s vision of making Salt Lake City School District our state’s flagship district. Even as we navigate possible school closures, we are working to open new pathways for our students. The opportunities garnered through the Utah STEM Ecosystem represent just one avenue through which we will accomplish that, and we look forward to many more opportunities for our students.

EARLY OPEN ENROLLMENT AND SPECIAL OPEN ENROLLMENT

In Utah, families have a choice in where their students attend school. Utah law allows families and their students to apply to attend a school even if it is outside of their neighborhood or district boundaries.

Early Open Enrollment

Students interested in enrolling in a Salt Lake City School District school but who live outside the district or school boundaries may apply for an out-of-resident transfer by completing an online Open Enrollment Application. The Early Open Enrollment period runs from November 15 through the first Friday in February each year.

Special Open Enrollment

The Special Open Enrollment Period will be put in place in the event that the Board of Education votes to approve elementary school closures. This would only be available to families whose school may be selected for permanent closure or boundary changes by the Board of Education. If needed, the Special Open Enrollment Period will be available from February 5, 2024 – February 18, 2024. Families will need to apply using the online Open Enrollment Application. On the application, you can mark that you are applying because of a school closure or boundary change.

If the Board of Education votes for school closures, the options available for students who live in the district whose school may be selected for permanent closure or boundary changes will be:

  • attend your newly assigned home boundary school, or
  • apply for open enrollment to your preferred school.

The options available for students who live outside the district whose school may be selected for permanent closure or boundary changes are:

  • attend the school designated as your new boundary school, or
  • apply for open enrollment to your school of choice.

Special Open Enrollment applications and Early Open Enrollment applications will be reviewed at the same time by school principals. By March 15, 2024, principals will contact parents to inform them if their application for Early Open Enrollment or Special Open Enrollment has been accepted or declined.

NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHERS

Congratulations to nine district teachers who have recently completed or renewed their National Board Certification. National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students, and schools. It was designed to develop, retain, and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide.

Did you know? Salt Lake City School District has the highest number of practicing National Board Certified Teachers in the state!

Our new NBCTs (each of these new National Board Certified Teachers pushed through an additional challenge in that they began the process during remote learning and COVID):

  • Rebecca De Freitas, Northwest
  • Becca Hodgkinson, Escalante
  • Leigh Ann Jennings, Uintah

Our renewed/maintained NBCTs (each of these NBCTs successfully renewed their National Board Certification through the Maintenance of Certificate process, which NBCTs must complete every five years):

  • Rebekah Hansen, West
  • Elise Maxwell, Bonneville
  • Sarah Nichols, MTSS Specialist
  • Michele Okubo, Hillside
  • Emily Petty, Rose Park
  • Matthew Teitter, Backman Principal

EXTENDED LEARNING PROGRAM NAME CHANGES AND TESTING DATES

The district’s Extended Learning Program department has renamed some of its programs. This is being done to provide clarity in the services they offer and to better follow national trends.

  • The Magnet Extended Learning Program will now be called Magnet Gifted and Talented. The phrase “Gifted and Talented” is a nationally recognized phrase that communicates the philosophy and goal of this program, which is to meet the needs of gifted/talented and high ability students through greater depth, complexity, and rigor in curriculum and instruction. 
  • The elementary school Neighborhood Extended Learning Program will now be called Advanced Academics and Mentorship Program (AAMP). This program is offered in every elementary school and encourages participation in advanced academics. AAMP serves students in a part time pull-out program in grades 4-6 for up to 3 hours per week.

The services provided by each program will stay the same, and students who are already participating in these programs remain in their respective programs.

Testing Dates

Online applications are currently being accepted from families who are interested in the 2024-25 Magnet Gifted and Talented program. Click here to complete the online application. Applications will close on January 31, 2024. After completing an application, each student will take a test to determine program eligibility. An application must be completed in order for your student to take the test. 

The students who can fill out the online application and be tested are:

  • All 6th and 7th grade students interested in the full-time middle school Magnet Program.
    • If your 6th grade student is currently in a district full-time Magnet classroom, they do not need to retest.
    • If you are interested in middle schools NELP* or Honors classes, no testing is needed.
      • *- The middle school Neighborhood Extended Learning Program (NELP) will also soon be undergoing a name change.
  • Open Classroom kindergarten and 3rd grade students.
  • Kindergarten students NOT currently in a district elementary school.
  • 3rd grade students NOT currently in a district elementary school.
    • NOTE:  All kindergarten and 3rd grade students attending a district elementary school will be tested in their school in March. No application is needed. Exceptions are the Open Classroom kindergarten and 3rd grade students.

TIPS FOR WINTER BREAK

For most students, the long winter break is a time to relax and forget about school. However, there are some fun activities you can do to keep the learning happening while enjoying a break over the holidays. Here are just a few ideas.

  1. Give children educational gifts, such as board games, science projects, building tasks, scrapbooking kits, and painting kits.
  2. Read stories together. Whether just before bed or around the campfire, reading a fun book or play out loud, even taking turns reading the dialogue of different characters, can be very entertaining.
  3. Play a fun family game that helps reinforce reading and vocabulary, like Scattergories, Balderdash, Taboo, Boggle, or Scrabble.
  4. Complete a cooking craft together, creating cookies or gingerbread houses, or whatever sounds fun for your family. Try a recipe from a different culture. For a little extra math, you can use foreign recipes, which use metric measurements and require translations.
  5. Film interviews with family members for posterity or edit your own holiday movie using all the decorations of the season.
  6. Find a local nature walk and practice identifying plants and animals you see along the way; learn about how the natural world copes with winter.
  7. Build adequate downtime into the break will help your child to reduce stress and decompress. Help your child get enough rest. Less than seven hours of sleep has been shown to impair cognitive function on multiple levels.
  8. Take some time with your children during the break to talk about goals they have for 2024. Make it fun, not just academic goals, but some things that they will want to do for fun, some extracurricular activities they may want to participate in.

KEEP SICK STUDENTS HOME

It’s that time of year again when temperatures start dropping and many students start getting sick. Typically, the number of students diagnosed with a cold, the flu, or COVID starts to increase during the fall and winter. Because of this we wanted to send a reminder to all families that if your student is sick, please keep them home.

The symptoms for these illnesses can be very similar – cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, and fever. If your student is experiencing any of these symptoms, please take them to your family doctor or a local health clinic so they can be tested and receive proper treatment. You can also read our Illness Guidelines on our website. They are available in several languages.

Our custodians are working hard to clean and sanitize our schools every day, specifically focusing on high touch areas and classrooms. Thank you for helping us keep our schools safe and healthy.

UPCOMING IMPORTANT DATES

December 21, 2023-January 3, 2024
Schools closed for Winter Recess

December 25, 2023-January 2, 2024
District offices closed for Winter Recess

January 9, 2024 – 5:30 p.m.
Board Meeting at West High with possible vote on school closure and boundary adjustment recommendations.