Everyone at Kearns Junior High Wants to be a Member of the 3.0 Club!

lauren-bby Lauren Birge
Kearns Junior High Community School Director

At the end of August, everyone at Kearns Junior was eagerly awaiting the release of the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) scores. SAGE is Utah’s statewide assessment of students that is aligned to the state’s core standards. Last year, the first time SAGE was given in Utah, Kearns Junior didn’t do as well as hoped on the test. Throughout the last school year, Kearns Junior staff and students worked tirelessly to improve the scores and get more students proficient.


When the SAGE scores were released on August 31st, everyone at Kearns Junior was very pleased. All of the SAGE scores at Kearns Junior went up a significant amount. In fact, Kearns Junior had the highest amount of growth out of any Junior High in Granite school district.

Our current levels of proficiency are:

  • Language Arts: 24%
  • Math: 25%
  • Science: 30%

Part of the reason for this amazing academic growth is the high academic standards that Kearns Junior has in place for all students. If you are a student at Kearns Junior, you are expected to succeed academically. Currently, Kearns Junior has as its goal to continue the positive trend of academic growth that we had last year. We want all students to have the same amount of growth or more as last year.

To continue this upward trend, Kandace Barber, the principal at Kearns Junior, sat down with the faculty and staff last May to devise a plan to help students continue growing academically and to create a consistent culture of high academic standards at Kearns Junior. What the faculty and staff came up with is the newly instituted 3.0 Club. The 3.0 Club is a club that gives a lot of positive reinforcements and promotes an encouraging, academic focused school culture.

To get into the 3.0 club, as the name suggests, a student needs to have a 3.0 GPA. Currently, over 100 students are currently eligible for the club.

Midterm grades are just being calculated, but it is likely that another 100 students will be able to join the club at the start of the second quarter That means, at the start of second quarter, 40 percent of the student body will be engaged in the 3.0 Club

By the end of the year, our goal as a school is to have two thirds, or around 360 students, enrolled in the 3.0 Club.

Each week, students in the 3.0 Club get special privileges, like “Headphone Mondays” and “Hat Day Wednesdays”. In addition, they get to go to lunch early on Thursdays and are let out of school on Fridays during afternoon announcements. Monthly events include lunch with teachers and exciting, educational field trips. The next field trip is a hike in one of the canyons close to Salt Lake City, led by one of the social studies and science teachers.

3.0 Club

Of course, the students at Kearns Junior aren’t left alone to figure out how to move their GPA up to a 3.0. This year, faculty at Kearns Junior instituted a special “flex” period during the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays where students have 30 minutes to work with teachers to complete their missing work. The afterschool program is also aligned with the 3.0 Club and provides over an hour of academic tutoring afterschool, where students can work with teachers and finish the work they are missing.

During the first week of school, the faculty collaborated together to do a kick-off assembly for the 3.0 Club. For the assembly, the faculty created a funny 3.0 video, which showcases the best parts of the 3.0 Club.

With all of the faculty and staff support, the students at Kearns Junior are on track to again have significant growth and increased proficiency
in their SAGE scores.

Watch the 3.0 Club VIDEO! 

3.0 Club


KeyBank Closes Its Doors for a Big Day of Volunteering!

allison-tby Allison Temnick
Community Investment Advisor

Many people do not know that KeyBank has a wonderful annual tradition here in Salt Lake called Our Neighbors Make the Difference Day. Each year, it chooses one day to close down all of its branches and send employees out to serve the community. This year, KeyBank decided to make it even bigger than ever with help from United Way of Salt Lake.

Key BankOn Wednesday, May 13, KeyBank branches across Utah closed and the employees participated in a variety of volunteer projects. One of the main projects was at Kearns Junior High, a United Way of Salt Lake Community School. 63 percent of students in Kearns receive free or reduced-price lunch (an indicator of poverty) and the graduation rate in this area is a mere 66 percent. Because Kearns Junior High is a community school, it is now a place where children and their families can receive basic services so that they can succeed in school. Kandace Barber, the principal of Kearns Junior High, says it best: “Kearns Junior High has become a hub of activity for the larger community. People are receiving services and people’s basic needs are being met at the school. None of it would be possible without our partnership with the United Way of Salt Lake. It has made all the difference.”

Key BankKeyBank’s team of volunteers played a role in this process by reading with students and helping them with their homework. KeyBank volunteers also assisted other organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, National Ability Center, Bountiful Community Food Pantry, Utah Food Bank, Camp Kostopulos, Catholic Community Services Food Pantry, the Boys and Girls Club and The Road Home.

Key BankAll in all, 130 KeyBank volunteers participated in ten volunteer projects across six counties. Thank you, KeyBank, for continuing your Neighbors Make A Difference Day tradition with the help of United Way of Salt Lake!

Key Bank

Representative Jim Matheson Visits Kearns Junior High

McLeod, Scottby Scott McLeod                                                                                Sr. Director of Community School Partnerships

Kearns Jr. High has a lot to be proud of. It is a school that continues to improve academically, outperforming many demographically similar schools, and has a thriving United Way Community School effort. Additionally, it was recently named a national School to Watch for all its incredible work and student improvement.

Congressman-Matheson-ASP-ViTo honor these incredible accomplishments, Kearns Jr. was recently visited by none other than U.S. Representative Jim Matheson, which was amazing to say the least! In late May, Rep. Matheson came to Kearns Jr. to congratulate the school and to get a glimpse of the partnership that helps make it happen. His tour included visiting the after school program, the Kids Café food program, the on-sight preschool program, and a conversation about the Community School partnership. It was a wonderful experience for everyone.


During the tour, not only did Rep. Matheson get to learn about the work being done at Kearns Jr., he also got to visit with the students themselves, including the student body officers and the key club. He is clearly a passionate public servant and invested in the future of Utah’s students. Thanks to all of the partners, to Kearns Jr. High and to Representative Matheson for such a great day!


Kearns Junior High Re-designated as a “Schools to Watch” School

Kyle_Priceby Kyle Price                                                                               Kearns Junior High Community School Director

With a school motto of “Success is our only option”, it’s no surprise that Kearns Junior High is changing the odds being recently re-designated as 1 of 10 “Schools to Watch” here in Utah. Schools to Watch:  is part of a national initiative launched by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform that aims to recognize middle schools that are taking an innovative approach to improving student performance. This isn’t just an award, but a responsibility to be a model of best practices for other schools across the state. Criteria for being recognized as a School to Watch include the following (as taken from http://www.middlegradesforum.org):

Kearns Jr. High 2013They are academically excellent—these schools challenge all students to use their minds well.

They are developmentally responsive—these schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence

They are socially equitable—these schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources and supports.

_MG_0261LARGEWeekly student support teams comprised of teachers, counselors, social workers and administration have been implemented to support struggling students and address school wide challenges and issues. Out of these meetings a lot of innovations have been developed, such as the FLEX period which provides students with a weekly grade check and the time to make up missing assignments. Quarterly make up days provide a chance for the students to make up work before the end of the quarter, often with the help of local businesses who offer to come into the school as tutors, and an after school program that aligns with school curriculum and supports the common core, and much more.

DSC_0028By taking an innovative approach to supporting students, being incredibly adaptive and responsive to student needs and taking a hard look at student academic data, Kearns Junior High really is setting themselves apart as a School to Watch, not just here in Utah, but nationally.

Congratulations to Principal Kandace Barber and the Kearns Junior High faculty and staff for continuing their work to LIVE UNITED and change the odds for Kearns students. 


Kearns Junior High Students and Families Get Brainy at Math n’ Science Night!

by Carolyn Giffin
Kearns Jr. High

Kearns Junior High families enjoyed a wonderful evening of food, fun, and lots of learning at the annual Math n’ Science Night on January 22. The math and science teachers “sponsored” booths that were centered on math or science concepts to promote learning and family engagement around these important subjects. Some of the great activities were the Estimation Station, What Comes Next?, Test Your Senses, and Shocking — just to name a few. All of the games proved to be lots of fun, while simultaneously teaching and reinforcing concepts from the school day.

Each person received a punch card listing the activities provided by our teachers and visiting outside agencies. After each person completed a designated number of activities or visits to outside agency booths, the card was punched with a stamp. Once the person received a certain number of punches, he or she qualified for raffle prizes and enjoyed dinner provided by the school!

Some of the outside agencies and other sponsors that so generously donated their time to raise awareness of a variety of causes at Math n’ Science Night were:

  • University of Utah Engineering Department
  • Utah Educational Savings Plan
  • Utah Health Policy Project – Affordable Care Act presentation and information
  • Salt Lake County Library – Book Talk: Ideas for young and old about math and science book ideas
  • Pregnancy Resource Center
  • Homework Helps with the Kearns Junior counselors
  • Career and College Planning with the Kearns Junior counselors

Nearly 340 people attended Math n’ Science Night and were able to learn new ideas and skills, enjoy good food and prizes, and most importantly, create wonderful memories with their families!


Kearns Junior High Students Rally for Attendance Awareness!

rokich-stephanieby Stephanie Rokich
Community Collaborations Director

If you’re an avid reader of United Way of Salt Lake’s blog The Hub, you might have noticed several posts about the importance of students attending school regularly. For an overview of attendance, check out this “Every Day Counts” post by fellow Community Collaborations Director, Chris Ellis. As the title suggests, every day that a student attends school increases that student’s chances of success. Students who miss 10 percent or more of school, whether for excused reasons or not, are much less likely to stay on top of their school work and on track to graduate.

This issue has been of particular importance at Kearns Junior High, as explained by Community School Coordinator Kyle Price in another recent post. At the junior high level, many students are responsible for getting themselves to school. Attendance problems often arise when students don’t get up on time for school, have to take care of a sick sibling, or simply choose not to attend.

Kearns Jr. High put together an attendance awareness plan to both educate students about the impact missed days have on their success at school, and to incentivize students to attend. To educate fellow students about attendance, the school’s Peer Leadership Team created fun posters and hung them around the school. Weekly competitions encouraged students in the same first period classes to join forces and encourage one another to be at school. The classes with full attendance – meaning every student was in their seat, on time – received treats for the whole class. The full classes were also announced to the entire school, and teachers reported this incentive as a HUGE motivator for students.

Additionally, staff members who work one-on-one with students who struggle attending school regularly, picked a set of students to focus on for the month. They worked with the students to set goals and agree upon incentives for their improved attendance, because research shows the importance of rewarding improved attendance as well as perfect attendance. They also called parents to work through their students’ attendance issues with them.

Kearns Students

Attendance Awareness Month was a big collaboration between the principal, teachers, school counselors, attendance staff, afterschool program staff, and many others. Organizing a school-wide attendance awareness month was a lot of work, but the positive results were staggering! Upon comparing data for an entire month from November 2012 when there was no attendance push to 2013 when the most recent Attendance Awareness Month took place:

–          Week 1, 2012: 43 average daily absences (ada)
–          Week 1, 2013: 22 ada
–          Week 2, 2012: 47 ada
–          Week 2, 2013: 34 ada
–          Week 3, 2012 (Thanksgiving week): 75 ada
–          Week 3, 2013: 42 ada
–          Week 4, 2012: 51 ada
–          Week 4, 2013 (Thanksgiving week): 47 ada

Kearns Junior will continue educating students and parents about the importance of good attendance habits by showcasing posters with pictures of Kearns Junior students and blurbs about attendance awareness. The school will also be re-booting attendance awareness month repeatedly throughout the year to help build those habits and keep students in school as much as possible. A future focus will be on Monday and Friday attendance, which data shows are the most missed days of school.

Congrats Kearns Junior students, and thank you Kearns Junior staff, for LIVING UNITED and making Attendance Awareness Month successful!

Literacy Night at Kearns Jr. High School

by Carolyn Giffin
Parent Center Coordinator, Kearns Jr. High

On November 13, the Kearns Jr. High School gymnasium was alive with the sound of laughing, cheering, and lots of chatter about the fun time that was had at the annual Kearns Jr. High School Family Literacy Night! This night has become a school tradition that continues to capture the support of our patrons. Each year, all of our language arts teachers come together and sponsor an activity supporting literacy skills that will hopefully become a part of each family’s daily life.


As each patron arrived, they received a “punch card” that had the names of each activity being presented that evening. After they completed each activity, their card was marked off–with the goal of completing at least twelve out of nineteen activities! Doing so qualified them for a chance at winning prizes as well as a coupon for dinner!

Some of the fun activities were karaoke, making your own bookmark, meeting a local author, or playing “Boggle,” just to name a few.  We had several outside agencies that also sponsored booths such as: Book Talk, with Salt Lake County Library; Flu Shots with Community Nursing Services; Washington Federal Bank, Utah Health Policy Project with information about the Affordable Care Act; College and Career Planning, and UESP Educational Savings Program. The presence of these agencies definitely helped raise awareness for our patrons and the great services that can help individuals and families here at our community school.

There were a record number of 545 attendees that evening! The support was amazing, but even more importantly, the comments made by families and individuals about how much they learned, how much fun they had together, and the memories that were created, was the most satisfying outcome ever!

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