Utah State Aggie Insights
March 2014


Utah State University Alumni Association

Alumni Spotlight - James Birch

James Birch

James Birch was recently named one of three principals of the year by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals. He is one of two Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services alumni to receive that honor this year.

Birch received the award after opening Herriman High School, a new, rapidly growing high school in Herriman, Utah. He completed his administration certification in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at USU.

Faced with a large number of new teachers, Birch took steps to make sure they all received the mentoring they needed.

“Almost 80 percent of our teachers have three years experience or less,” he said. “It’s great to have that youth and that energy but you need to provide them with the tools they need to be successful.”

He asked an experienced, board-certified, award-winning teacher named Donna Hunter to put together a program, and the Herriman Institute of Teachers began. It would offer tips on everything from classroom discipline to purchasing a lunch at school.

“Don’t discount the importance of lunch,” Birch added. New teachers feel uncomfortable around lunchtime on their first day, not just because they may not know how to buy it, but also because they may not have a friend to sit by.

The institute brings new teachers in twice during the summer to participate in group activities. Each session lasts for three days. Experts come in to deal with a variety of topics, such as where to stand in a classroom, how to manage hall passes and how to ask questions that encourage participation. The teachers are paid for the time they take to participate.

The meetings introduce teachers not only to best practices in the classroom, but also to each other. It helps them find other people to eat lunch with.

During the school year, institute members get together once a month for an open discussion of issues. (They call it the OK Corral.)

“It keeps provisional teachers, and those new to the building, up-to-speed on what is happening,” Hunter said. “We also have a little workshop on a teaching strategy. Jim pays for refreshments and makes sure we have administrative support. This helps teachers feel like they are in the loop.”

Hunter also goes into the classrooms to observe teachers. She then makes an appointment with them to evaluate what she saw. “I send Jim a report and he follows up on any problem areas, or commends those who are doing well.”

Birch said the observations work well because Hunter is a respected teacher but not an administrator. Teachers can learn from her without feeling like they’re in trouble.

Teachers also have the opportunity to go observe in other schools. “They always come back with ideas,” Hunter said. “Jim pays for the substitutes and encourages the reluctant to participate.”

These steps toward mentorship got the school off to a good start. “We did this the very first year we opened,” Hunter said. “Our teachers were friends. They looked out for one another. We also had teachers who started out as weak or lacking skills that have been nurtured along because they were willing to take advantage of what we have to offer.”

These steps toward mentorship got the school off to a good start. “We did this the very first year we opened,” Hunter said. “Our teachers were friends. They looked out for one another. We also had teachers who started out as weak or lacking skills that have been nurtured along because they were willing to take advantage of what we have to offer.”

Birch said he wants to give young teachers - and all teachers - a kinder, more inclusive experience.

“Being a consensus-builder is something that I’ve learned to do well,” he said. “When you don’t include all of your school community, you might as well get involved in a land war in southeast Asia.”

Spotlight Courtesy of Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Blog.

It's time for Madness

March Madnes

March is upon us, and that means basketball tournament season. Support your Aggies this year in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas, March 10-15.

Learn more about this year's men's and women's teams.

A Message on behalf of from Liberty Mutual Insurance:

Liberty Mutual

Did you know Liberty Mutual is a proud sponsor of Team USA for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games? It’s true! And we’re supporting our athletes all the way!

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Founders Day

Founders Day

March 7, Founders Day
This month we celebrated the 126th anniversary of USU. We honored a numbered or alumni, students, and USU celebrants including Lars P. Hansen, 2013 Nobel Laureate, Chuckie Keeton and Judge Ted Stewart.

Click Here for a full list of Honorees.



Utah's Day of Giving

Utah's Day of Giving

March 20th is the Love UT Give UT day. You can be part of our state's biggest ever day of giving and show your Aggie love by making a gift on this day in support of USU students.
Visit loveutgiveut.org to read more and make your gift.
Point. Click. Donate. Awesome.



Aggie Plates

A Plates

Aggie License plates have raised over $1 Million dollars in scholarships. Your dedication to support USU through Aggie plates helps students get a quality education.
Get your A plate today.

True Blue Pledge

True Blue Pledge

There is no better way to show your appreciation to USU and its donors than by making a contribution yourself. The True Blue Pledge is a 4-year commitment to support your university and your passions. Here's how it works:

$5 - as a Freshman
$10 - as a Sophomore
$15 - as a Junior
$20.xx - as a Senior (xx is year of graduation ie. class of 2014 would give $20.14)
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$50.xx Total

For a short time, current Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors can make their True Blue Pledge at a discounted rate (through the end of 2013).
Sophomores - $45 ($10 now, $15 Jr. yr., $20.16 senior year)
Juniors - $40 total ($20 this year, $20.15 next year)
Seniors - $35 total ($15 in Fall, $20.14 in Spring)

Watch this video to learn more.

May 14 - 22, 2014 - Greek Isles Odyssey

May 14 - 22, 2014 - Greek Isles Odyssey

Embark on a glorious getaway to fabled lands steeped in golden sunshine, abundant ancient ruins and enduring cultural traditions on this Aegean adventure from Athens to Istanbul. Depart Athens for the lovely Greek Isle of Santorini, a striking display of volcano-carved land sprinkled with lovely whitewashed villages. Cruise to Kusadasi and explore this vibrant, Turkish port town or travel to the ancient city of Ephesus and walk through its beautifully preserved ruins. Savor the sweeping white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of Rhodes, an island of fascinating archeological sites and stunning scenery, followed by Mykonos, a seaside medley of chalk-white homes brightened with red and blue shutters and doors. Rising from the slopes of Mt. Symvolo, find Kavala, a picturesque city boasting a spectacular Byzantine fortress. Before your exceptional odyssey comes to a close, experience a refreshing blend of lingering antiquity with modern vitality in Istanbul, the cosmopolitan city brimming with extraordinary mosques and palaces. Offered by our travel partner Go Next

Click Here to download the tour brochure.
View our other travel opportunities here.

Aggie Rewards

Aggie Rewards

Real Aggies get rewards. With Aggie Rewards, you can now earn prizes when you shop online, and connect with USU online.
Join now and start earning prizes today

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11 Ways to Connect

11 Ways to Connect

Think donating is the only way to stay in touch with USU? Think again. Check out these 11 ways to Stand Up, Get Involved, and be an Aggie.

Aggie ClassNotes

Lois Watt

Charles Carter, Class of 1979

Director of Land Use and Environmetnal Planning after 25 years in the Stanford Planning Office
Charles is retiring from his position as Director of Land Use and Environmetnal Planning after 25 years in the Stanford Planning Office (8/31/13). During his tenure, Charles worked on a number of facilities, environmental planning, and land use entitlement projects including the first Stanford parking structure, a number of Medical Center research and clinical facilities, Stanford Real Estate Develoment projects, the main campus General Use Permit, a Sustainable Development Study, a campus trail network and a Habitat Conservation Plan for two federally protected species. Charles joined the Planning office as a junior landscape architect and became licensed in California. With a City Planning background he eventually became Associate Director for Community and Environmental Planning reporting to the University Architect. After a reorganization he became Director of Land Use and Environmental Planning (LUEP) reporting to the Senior Associate Vice President for Land Buildings and Real Estate. The LUEP office was responsible for long range planning for 8180 acres of the contiguous campus including a Biological Preserve, a Medical Center, The Stanford Research Park and commercial properies such as Stanford Shopping Center. The office was also responsible for obtaining land use permits and approvals from local jurisdiction, preparation of environmental impact assessments under the California Environmental Quality Act and the oversight of all land use activities for the rural and agricultural campus lands. Charles and his wife Melanie (BS Family Life, 1979) recently bought a home in Santa Rosa, CA where they will relocate from Palo Alto (with an interim year in San Francisco). They have a son, Stephen, in East Glacier Montana, and a daughter, Victoria, in Brooklyn NY.


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View this month's Obituaries here

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