A conversation with the Superintendent: Building and programming updates in the Logan City School District

LOGAN — Dr. Frank Schofield has just finished his second school year as the superintendent of the Logan City School District. His career in education began at Logan High School, where he was a Spanish and ESL social studies teacher. He was then the principal of Wilson Elementary before spending seven years in the Canyons School District in Sandy as an elementary and middle school administrator. Schofield says he’s enjoyed his return to Cache Valley, and he’s excited about the many opportunities afforded to the district’s 6,000 students.

<strong>What can you tell us about building changes, updates on remodels and construction in the district?</strong>

“The biggest thing we’re looking forward to is the completion of our Logan High reinvention that’s been going on for the last few years. All of the classroom spaces are slated to be done at the end of this summer, and then we’ll have some final parking lot and some final work to be done on the exterior of the building and in one non-classroom area.”

<strong>What’s going to happen with Hillcrest and Ellis elementary schools?</strong>

“What we have to do first is review the timeline for the release of the bonds because every time you release a bond, it affects tax rates. If you release that whole value at once, they all go up, so you release the bonds in stages so you’re not hurting your taxpayers. We also have to put out a request for proposals for architects and builders to come in and develop the plan. The architectural firm will then start scheduling community meeting—opportunities to collect parent input on the design of the school, student input, teacher input, etc., and the process will move forward from there.”

<strong>What can you tell us about the makerspace being developed at Logan High?</strong>

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“What we’re doing is we’re building an area that is going to have three classrooms around it, and those will be classrooms that are staffed by our career and technical education teachers. In the middle, you have this big open space where students have access to tools like 3D printers, scanners, we’ll have some woodshop tools, some metalworking tools, etc. The whole idea behind a makerspace is you are creating a venue for students to go in and try out ideas—to design, to create, to take what they’re learning in their classes and make something out of it. You can do a lot more project-based learning with a makerspace and do many more activities that demonstrate real-life application of concepts. It works really well with the career and technical education field.

Nationally, as you see students get into these spaces, you get some really innovative work. You have students designing robots to accomplish specific tasks. You can see the maker movement as part of what has influenced things like <a href=”https://genesis.farmbot.io/docs”>FarmBot</a>, which is a do-it-yourself farming robot that helps plant, water and weed your garden. It’s really cool! You give kids a venue to apply their creativity with the knowledge they’ve been developing in class, and it’s incredible what sorts of things students come up with—computer apps and things for your phone. It’s just creating a space where that type of thinking and that type of work is encouraged.”

<strong>Is this the first makerspace in Cache Valley?</strong>

“You have <a href=”http://cachemakers.weebly.com/”>Cache Makers</a>, which is an organization here in the valley that promotes those ideas, but this will be the first one we’re aware of in a public school.  One of the exciting things with it is our media specialists in the elementary schools are getting excited about the idea. I’ve had media specialists approach me this year and say, ‘You know what, instead of doing popcorn parties when kids finish reading a certain number of books, we’re going to do makerspace parties,’ and they’re turning sections of the media center into elementary level makerspaces where kids are able to go in and create things. We have one media specialist, for example, who is putting in a standing loom so when students come into the media center, they do their media activities, but then as part of the maker activities, they’re going to learn how to weave blankets. They’ll be doing popsicle stick construction, and all sorts of these things that allow for expression and development of creativity, but also creation of products and identifying, ‘What’s something that I’m interested in and how could I put that together?’ The ideas behind the maker movement are most evident in what we’re putting into the high school, but those ideas are transitioning throughout the entire system, and that’s fun to see.”

<strong>What programs in the district are you most excited about?</strong>

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“At the high school, one of the programs we’re excited about is our <a href=”http://www.loganhigh.org/innovations-information/”>Innovations</a> program, which will be started at the high school next year.  This is a personalized learning opportunity for students. It’s a mix of a face-to-face and a digital curriculum experience for students. They’re able to progress through the curriculum at their own pace, so once they’ve demonstrated that they’ve learned the content, they’re able to move on to what comes next.  We have students who have been piloting the program over the summer, and they’re making rapid progress through the curriculum. We have a very excited group of teachers who are managing it, and we’re thrilled to see what opportunities that provides for students. We believe that not every student learns in the same way or at the same rate, so if we can provide opportunities that allow students to personalize their learning experience based on their needs, interests and abilities, we can provide a better environment for their learning and open up more doors of opportunity for them in the future so they can dedicate more time to advanced placement courses or concurrent enrollment or technical training out at Bridgerland.”

<strong>Is there anything else you’d like to share about programs or buildings?</strong>

“Some of the things that we have with programs—our <a href=”http://utahstars.usu.edu/about”>GEAR UP</a> program at Logan High and Mount Logan Middle School. It’s a federally-funded grant program, and Mount Logan and Logan High School are the only schools in Northern Utah that participate in the grant. The focus is on helping prepare first-generation college students for success in any sort of post- high school training. The focus is really helping them get prepared for college, so we do college visits with kids. I think this summer we’ve done some trips down to Snow College. I don’t think we’ve gone as far south as Dixie State, but from Snow College up to BYU-Idaho, we’ve hit every college and university in between. We’ve taken students to Weber State, Salt Lake Community College, Bridgerland and Utah State, BYU, University of Utah, Utah Valley, etc., and it’s all about helping students see what’s available to them. First, we want to get them thinking about college because lots of students are going to be first-generation college students. They don’t have family members who have experienced college, so it’s not something that they get a whole lot of information on outside the school..

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We do parent visits, and Utah State has parent seminars where they’ll have parents come up to spend a weekend in the dorms, visiting with professors and talking about what their student will experience at college. We provide instructional support at the school, and we have some unique programs that tie into science and technology and engineering. For example, we have teams at Mount Logan and Logan High that participate in the <a href=”https://utahstars.usu.edu/greenpower/greenpower-event-summary-2017″>Greenpower Program</a>. That is a program that started in England and has now come to the U.S. where students work with a team of their peers and a faculty advisor, and they use a kit to design and build an electric racecar. They design and test it and make modifications, and then we take them down to a motorsports park in Tooele in the spring, and they race against other students from across the state. That really is a neat event because students are able to take what they’re learning and work as a team. They have to problem solve and design something, and then they get to go out an actually race their cars. And these aren’t little remote control racers. These are actually go-carts that students have built and designed themselves, and they have to go out there and make them work.  We have three cars in our district—one for the high school, one for the middle school and we actually have a version that is designed for elementary students. Woodruff Elementary is going to have access to that car for this next year since they’re a state-designated STEM school, so we’ll have a group of students at Woodruff designing and racing that car in the spring when we go down to Tooele.  The GEAR UP program does provide some great opportunities for students and a lot of support for parents as they’re thinking, ‘How do I prepare my child for success after high school?”

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