Both districts focus on making and building connections

marcy curtis / messenger photo
(LEFT): Heidi Seely, first grade teacher at Ephraim Elementary, prepares her classroom for her new group of students. (RIGHT): North Sanpete High School’s updated gym looks brighter and larger with its paint job and new additions. It will be ready to host the many athletic and school activities this coming year.

With school starting tomorrow in both the North Sanpete and South Sanpete School Districts, the two superintendents, while using a little different approach, are both emphasizing making and building connections. 

“We are aware that based on our experiences and our relationships with each other that strength matters,” said North Sanpete Superintendent Nan Ault. “We are strong and we are designed to do hard things. Our experience also tells us that we need each other and there is strength in building those connections.”

The Sanpete County school population is bigger than most people realize. A little over 6,000 children will be walking, driving or riding buses to school tomorrow. There are 2800 pupils in North Sanpete and 3400 in South Sanpete. 

Nearly 1000 people are employed at the two school districts. South Sanpete has close to 200 teachers including 20 new ones, plus about 300 para-educators and classified staff this school year. North Sanpete has approximately 390 staff members with 25 new employees and they are in the process of hiring more. These numbers at North Sanpete do not include the many valued substitutes that are hired within the district. 

“We want to highlight and help make connections with students,” said South Sanpete Superintendent Ralph Squire. “We want our students to feel connected to their school and their teachers.”

With the past two years being interrupted and changed by COVID-19, both districts are looking forward to normalizing school the best they can during the pandemic. 

Both districts are working closely with the local health department to do what is best for the students and faculty. Face masks are not currently mandatory in school and testing will not be required in most circumstances, including extracurricular activities. 

They are encouraging everyone to be SMART: 

  • Stay home when sick or when waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • Masks are a personal choice, but may prevent sickness and quarantine
  • Advocate for distancing when possible
  • Remember good hygiene and sanitation 
  • Talk to your health care provider about vaccinating eligible students

South Sanpete is looking forward to an emphasis on the reading curriculum, reading coaches and instruction. 

“The single greatest gift we can give students is the power of education [reading] because it opens pathways to the future,” said Squire. “The future is theirs to be or do whatever they want, and the world is at their fingertips.”

North Sanpete school district has added several literacy intervention programs to their tool box that will better support student learning. 

“Our math adoption for all grade levels took place last year, so we have new math programs that will be implemented this year,” said Ault “We offer our teachers a week of professional development options to facilitate these efforts.”

Administration, district teams and staff at North Sanpete will focus on engagement: behavioral, emotional and cognitive. 

“I look forward to my continued work with district teams and the progress that they are making to support our teacher and students,” said Ault. “North Sanpete has talented and dedicated administrators that collectively, want the very best for their students. We are anxious to learn together to find innovative and support strategies that support our parents and their children.”

photo courtesy Odee Hansen
North Sanpete instructional coaches, Dax Higgins and Ryan Syme, share their presentation with the North Sanpete Staff at training.

North Sanpete Middle School and all elementary schools have had or are in the process of getting new or upgraded intercom systems. This upgrade will add functionality to bell and notification systems. Each classroom will also include audio enhancement systems with teacher devices that not only improve classroom engagement, but also have the ability to alert administrators in case of an emergency. 

They are also working to build a new tennis facility and have updated the look of the main gym at the high school. 

“Our new LED lights are fully functional at the football stadium and we are actively working to add or upgrade HVAC systems at several of our schools to better allow our students and staff a comfortable workplace during warmer weather,” said Ault. 

Manti Elementary School replaced the last coal boiler system this summer. The district also replaced the intercom systems in both Gunnison and Manti High Schools. 

Both districts are excited for the school year and have words of advice for their students to help them have a successful year. 

“I want students to get involved and be positive,” said Squire. “Anyone can find the negative and belittle; emphasize the good things in your life and your school, and you will have a fantastic school year. The power of positivity can help change the world.”

Superintendent Ault said that they love to see their students each day and their hope is that they know how important they are to each educator. 

“As a superintendent, I want all my students and staff to value their own differences, strengths and abilities. Let’s go make good things happen!”