SANDY — Rick L. Robins, superintendent of Juab School District, has been named the next superintendent of the 34,000-student Canyons School District.
The district school board voted unanimously to appoint Robins during a meeting on Tuesday.
Robins will succeed Superintendent James Briscoe, who announced his plans to retire from the school district at the end of the academic year. Briscoe has led Canyons School District since 2014, which was the capstone of a 38-year career as an educator in three states: Illinois, Wisconsin and Utah.
Board President Nancy Tingey said the appointment comes at an “unprecedented time” as the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, the school board held fast to its schedule to appoint a new superintendent before Briscoe’s departure, she said.
“With the appointment of Dr. Robins, the board is confident that the vision and mission of Canyons District with a focus on the tenets of student achievement, innovation, community engagement, customer service and fiscal accountability will continue well into the future,” Tingey said.
Robins started his career as a history teacher at Copper Hills High in the Jordan School District and has worked as an assistant principal and principal in the Alpine, Nebo and Juab School Districts.
“I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to join the Canyons School District family. This is a dream come true for me and my family. I am excited to get to know everyone in the Canyons School District community. The passion and dedication for student success is very evident,” said Robins in a statement.
Robins joins Briscoe, Ginger Rhode and David Doty as the fourth leader of Canyons District.
Briscoe said Robins is an innovator and a person of high character.
“This district just got a whole lot better” with Robins’ appointment, Briscoe said.
Robins has worked in education for 25 years, serving as a teacher, coach and school administrator. He is coming from a rural school district of 2,588 students where he was superintendent for six years but spent most of his career in urban school districts.
“I really enjoy and have had a broad range of experiences in rural and urban districts. I think that makes me unique in some ways. I don’t know how many administrators really have that perspective. I just really look forward to the opportunity to serve in the Canyons School District,” Robins said.
He added, “This is a lighthouse district and one that I certainly have looked up to for many years and have had great respect for everything that happens here from student achievement, innovation and community engagement.
“I think that’s a real tribute to Canyons and was very attractive to me. I look forward to fitting in and building relationships, really listening and learning from the community as we go forward.”
He told the board that his wife Heidi is a school psychologist “so this is what we do. This is at our roots. Our passion is to be educators.” The couple has four children.
Robins said he is an intensely social person so the dismissal of Utah schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a personal challenge.
“Hopefully in the short future we’ll be back to normal and back to school and life and all great things that make our country and Canyons School District what it is,” he said.
Robins earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University, a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University and a doctorate in educational leadership from University of Nevada Las Vegas.
While attending SUU, Dr. Robins played quarterback on the Thunderbird football team and was inducted into the university’s hall of fame.
Under Robins’ leadership of Juab School District, the district has emerged as a national leader in competency-based education and personalized learning.
In 2015, the school district was inducted into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, which recognizes some of the nation’s most innovative and forward-thinking school models.
In 2018, Juab School District was honored at the National School Boards Convention by the Center for Digital Education.
Robins expressed his gratitude to Juab School District and Canyons School District, explaining that “it’s a very emotional night for me,” he said.
Not only has he led Juab School District, his children have attended its schools. His second-eldest daughter will graduate high school this spring.
He said he looks forward to the next chapter in his career at the helm of Canyons District.
“Canyons District is truly a school community committed to excellence. I am grateful to the Canyons Board of Education for affording me their confidence and this amazing opportunity to serve as superintendent. I look forward to listening, learning and leading shoulder to shoulder with so many awesome people,” he said.