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The City Journals

Bastian Elementary looking forward to the future

Jul 26, 2017 11:22AM ● By Jet Burnham

Students will use a virtual reality system to explore subjects in 3-D. (zSpace)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]


Students in Herriman are more excited than usual for the first day of school. About 550 of them will be attending the brand-new school, Bastian Elementary, located at 5692 West American Park.

Principal Doree Strauss said it is a lot of work to open a new school. She did it 12 years ago at Daybreak Elementary.

 “The fun part is to build a community, a culture, a faculty and staff,” she said.

Strauss has worked with teachers to plan activities to help integrate the students into a cohesive school. Students are coming from three elementary schools—Herriman, Daybreak and Silvercrest.

Bastian Elementary will have an emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning. There will be Chromebooks for every classroom, and each grade will have its own computer lab.

Fifth-grade teacher Carola Proctor said the fifth-grade team is looking forward to implementing new ideas this year.

 “We want to have our students succeed by providing them with the tools they need to grow,” she said.

Kathy Collins, who will be teaching second grade, said she will teach an integrated curriculum, incorporating technology to enhance her students’ learning.

Strauss will provide cutting-edge technology for all grades. One such tool—available to teachers and students—is called zSpace. It is a virtual reality system that uses 3-D technology as a way for students to explore subjects in an interactive way.

Another program Strauss will bring to Bastian is called Community of Caring, a character education program. The first value focuses on family. Strauss said the school will make a quilt together, inviting each family to design a quilt block.

Strauss is also excited to implement a program she has developed called Specials.

 “Everyone says they meet students’ needs but they don’t—they can’t,” said Strauss. Teachers are burdened with large class sizes of students of varying levels. With the Specials program, teachers have the time to meet the individual needs of students.

Qualified aides, many with specialized degrees, will work daily with students in 45 minutes of STEM, computer lab, PE, character education, music and art activities. During this time, teachers will be free to work with students one-on-one or in small groups.

 “I love the Specials program,” said Shaunti Turner, who participated in Strauss’ program at Daybreak Elementary. “It is so nice to have individual time with students to teach the interventions they may need. When you have 25 or more students, it can be hard to find that time during the day.”

Collins also used the program at Daybreak. She uses it to help struggling students catch up and to provide accelerated students with more challenging enrichment activities.

“It is a highly effective way to help each student achieve academic success,” she said.

Teachers have plans for a school choir, debate program and a chess club, among other after-school activities. Students will have opportunities for acting, singing and researching through various projects teachers have planned for the year.

Students will also actively participate in district-sponsored enrichment activities such as Monster Math and the district science fair.

The new school is named after the Bastian family, which donated the property to Jordan District. The school mascot and school colors will be decided by the student body once school begins. Strauss loves to involve students in decision-making and will invite Bastian’s student council to be actively involved in shaping the school.

Strauss said the school building is well-designed for group learning. Two collaboration halls will be used for group projects and activities.

 Strauss has hand-picked her teachers for this year—most have worked with her before. They all agree she is a great principal to work with.

“She is extremely supportive of teachers and helps us have the tools, training and autonomy needed to be successful,” said Collins. 

Proctor said Strauss is aware of each teacher as an individual.

“She recognizes the strengths in us and encourages us to use those strengths and not to become ‘cookie-cutter’ teachers,” she said.

Bastian Elementary will hold an open house for families to tour the school on Aug. 22 from 1–3 p.m. Classes will begin the next day.

“The first day will be a red-carpet opening,” said Strauss.