By Myrna Trauntvein
“From the beginning of education in the valley of Juab County, in the late 1800s, the great people of Juab have always been dedicated to the success of their children,” said Dr. Rick Robins, Juab School District superintendent, as he met with Nephi City Council on Tuesday.
“Fast forward to now,” he said. “That same pioneering spirit exists.”
Justin Seely, mayor pro tempore, welcomed Robins to city council meeting.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you,” said Seely. “I have always been impressed by your level of commitment and focus.”
Seely said they both attended local inter-agency meetings and he was proud that those meetings were not territorial as participants focused on ways to better the lives of all youth. Seely said that the meetings also served as a model for other communities.
He also appreciated the way the board of education was willing to work with the city to provide youth with good experiences.
“I also appreciate your love of technology,” he said.
Robins said he had brought a prop to share and that was a 1911 yearbook for Nephi High School.
The book had been owned by Stella Cox, a resident of Logan, who passed away. She was a graduate of Nephi High and her family contacted Robins about the old yearbook. They had been trying to decide whether to throw it away or donate it to the district.
“I told her that we would like her to send it to us,” he said. “We have other old yearbooks that we have digitized. We were glad that the family did not throw it away.”
Walter Inges Brown was an educator from Vermont who came to the valley to help with the family farm. The pioneers believed in education and appointed him as the first superintendent. The first graduating class was in 1899.
The first record of education in the valley came from Nan Schmidt.
He said the historic information had been shared at the district’s “What Counts Night.”
“We have cycled around and are at another crossroads,” said Robins. “What does the future hold? Since 2016 JSD leadership has been thinking about ‘What Counts’ and have set in motion the planning and implementation of our five-year strategic plan that will begin in the fall of 2019.”
“Our students of today are the most connected and the most disconnected of any generation before,” he said.
Going forward, the board is asking two questions that will drive the future decisions of the board.
Those questions were: What are we doing well? What is our ideal education model?
The board has moved through phases one through four of the plan. The next step will come in May when the JSD board will develop the five-year strategic plan for final revision.
“Publication will occur in July,” he said.
He said that the district had collected a lot of data. For example, in 2015, there were 2,200 students in the district. Now there are over 2,600 and the population grows throughout the year as more homes are built and occupied.
Financially speaking, income levels have improved and the district is in danger of losing Title 1 funds.
“My recommendation to you and the board is that we need to do long-term planning,” he said. “Most of the jobs our students will be competing for have not been invented yet.”
As for the district finances, they try to operate at zero. The district has to compete with Utah County for teachers and that means that the wage level needs to be competitive.
By approximately 2025 to 2027, all of the district bonds will be paid.
The “JSD Profile of a Graduate” handout Robins shared shows a head, which stands for knowledge; a hand, which stands for skills; and a heart, which stands for dispositions.
Knowledge is JSD Choice Ready: post-secondary ready, workforce ready, military ready, and life-skills ready. Skills are 21st Century Skills: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity. Dispositions are Big Five: conscientiousness (grit), agreeableness (teamwork), emotional stability (resilience), openness (curiosity), extroversion (leadership).
“We greatly appreciate the wonderful partnership that exists between the city and the district,” said Robins. “Special thanks to some amazing people with Nephi City that make it happen everyday: city council, Mayor Glade Nielson, Chief Mike Morgan, Officer Kyle Bell (SRO), Seth Atkinson (city administrator), John Bradley (recreation director), Kyle Marchant (public works director), Kasey Wright (city attorney), Brent Boswell (county economic development director) and many more.”
“I think that, with 500 employees, we are the largest employer in Juab County,” said Robins.
Lisa Brough, city recorder/finance director, asked if there was information available to indicate how well students did in post-secondary schools.
Limited information was available and only at state schools because of privacy laws, said Robins. The small snapshot the district has indicates that the graduates are doing well.
The district needed a Juab High Alumna organization, said Brough.
Nathan Memmott, council member, said one of his children met a school janitor every morning for a cookie, chocolate milk and friendship and that had made a great difference so he knew all district employees were important.
Larry Ostler, council member, said that students today had different challenges. When he was a student, kids had guns in the windows of their trucks and made gun stocks in shop. Today, students faced great challenges.
“Our kids are resilient, articulate and bright,” said Robins. “I have great faith in our future. I’m confident they can do it.”
The district was seeing more mental health issues. They were way under mark when it came to having enough counselors.
Students also had rigors and expectations not imposed when he was younger, said Skip Worwood, council member. Those stresses and strains could hurt mental health. He also said that he agreed that technology was wonderful but it was also the bane of modern society.
Seely said that he wanted to thank the district for the “Ring of Honor” inductions they had started.
“Mr. T (Leonard Trauntvein, retired educator, principal and a recipient of the Ring of Honor) was the gentleman who, for me, made a difference in my life.”
He said that Trauntvein was willing to take him as he was, to encourage him and set him on the path to what he had become. He had used the time when Trauntvein was honored to teach his children.
“Mr. T is Juab through and through,” said Robins.
Robins would like every student in the district to have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C.
“We need to engage our kids in civics.”
Seely said that the city was also trying to help the district by making it possible for lower income families to have access to internet. One big point in the city’s franchise agreement with CentraCom was that there would be free zones.
“They will be called Wasps’ Nests,” said Seely.
“They need to be provisioned by the school district,” said Memmott.
“That is so awesome,” said Robins. “We do have a proxy server that allows students with a school device to connect.”
Elementary schools students do not have personal devices owned by the district. The junior high has devices that are checked out to them and high school students have devices that become theirs if they graduate from high school.