District Doubles GED Completions Now That it is a Proctor

Park City School District’s Adult Education program has doubled the number of students taking and earning their GED now that it can proctor the test.

“It’s so much more convenient for our students to take the test in the same location they are taking the GED classes,” said Alison Taylor who oversees the Community Education’s adult education program. Taylor is a proctor for the test thanks to a grant from the Utah Board of Education.

During 2018-19, five students earned their GED in English, five completed their GED in Spanish, four earned their high school diplomas, and five inmates at the Summit County Jail passed the GED.

Traditionally, the GED program has not been offered during the summer months but this year is different. There are 30 adults spending the summer working on earning their GEDs, including 12 in Spanish.

GED classes are held at the Park City Learning Academy and students who are age 18 or older qualify. Classes are held Tuesday and Thursday nights and cost of the program is $40.

For more information about this program, contact Taylor at 435-615-0209, ataylor@pcschools.us.

District Wins National Public Relations Award for Newsroom

The Park City School District Newsroom has been recognized by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) with the Golden Achievement Award in the category of publications and digital media.

The Newsroom was created in 2017 by Communications Director Melinda Colton for a way to keep the community engaged in the news of the district and its schools.

“Our Newsroom is a way to continually reassure our parents and community about our high achieving schools and the great things that are happening in our classrooms every day,” said Colton. “No one can tell our story as well as we can.”

The Newsroom was recognized by NSPRA for outstanding achievement in the four steps of a public relations program: analysis of the need, planning to meet the need, executive and communication of the program, and formal evaluation.

The Newsroom contains weekly posts, district honors, emergency communications for parents, an archive of news stories, and master planning updates. To date, more than 150 posts have been published in the Newsroom. Subscribers receive an email every time a new post is written.

According to Colton, some of the benefits of the Newsroom include the following: acts as a useful archive of important events/honors, serves as a critical communications tool during emergency situations, and promotes the district mission and vision.

The Newsroom can be found directly at newsroom.pcschools.us, or through a “News” link on the homepage of the district’s website. Colton invites parents, community members, and employees to subscribe to the Newsroom.

NSPRA, founded in 1935, provides school communication training and services to school leaders throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.S. Dependent Schools worldwide.

Board Meeting Summary | June 18, 2019

PCEA Report

Julie Hooker and Amanda Lawing will serve as co-presidents of the Park City Education Association this coming school year. Hooker commended students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators for their contributions to the Class of 2019. She reminded the board that the single greatest predictor of student success is the relationships that students have with classroom teachers. PCEA looks forward to working with the district to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers. Hooker expressed concern for safety/access at the high school, which was later addressed by Mike Tanner’s safety update.

Master Plan Timeline/Update

Superintendent Gildea reviewed the master planning timeline through the end of 2019:

– July: Meet with city council and host small groups

– August: Update staff and parents at Back-to-School meetings; launch three task force groups (see below)

– September: Host a community forum

– October: Seek additional community feedback via an online survey

– November/December: Create initial drafts of the action and implementation plans

Dr. Gildea reviewed the creation and purposes of three task force groups that will begin work this fall. Task force groups include:

— Early Learning: Provide data, information, and input into the concept of early learning opportunities within Park City School District.

— Secondary School Designs: Consider the 6-12 learner experience and map out the best case scenario work required to examine middle level and secondary level education programming for Park City School District.

—Equity, Access, and Opportunity: Look at ways Park City School District can improve access, equity, and opportunity (realizing PCSD’s mission to inspire and support all students equitably to achieve academic and social potential) throughout the coming year.

Safety Update

Chief Operations Officer Mike Tanner will convene the district’s Safety Committee this fall and involve representation from all stakeholder groups. He is in the process of refining access points at the schools and reviewing security procedures with city and county first responders. Tanner recognized there are good things happening in schools related to safety and security, but safety protocol needs to be articulated system-wide.

Calendar Survey Findings

Dr. Gildea shared the findings of the calendar survey that was taken by more than 1,100 individuals. She was pleased to see that parents and educators agree on the preferred calendar options and that most prefer the calendar the district is currently using.

The survey findings show the majority of respondents favor the following:

– Maintaining current high school start times

– Starting school in late August

– Ending the first semester before Winter Break

– Continuing with a variety of long and short breaks

– Setting a fixed time for Spring Recess (second week of April)

2019-20 Calendar

Board members reviewed the 2020-21 tentative calendar and are expected to finalize it during their Aug. 20 meeting.

Policy for Posting

– Policy 10045: Attendance – Grades 8-12

Policies Adopted

– Policy 7030: Employee Suggestions and Complaints

– Policy 7055: Jury Duty or Witness in Court

– Policy 7060: Sick Leave Bank

– Policy 7090: Substitute Teachers

– Policy 7130: Sick Leave Incentive

– Policy 7150: Contract Status for Newly Hired Classified Employees

– Policy 7155: Classified Staff Promotions and Transfers

– Policy 10001: Bullying

Public Comment

– Treasure Mountain Junior High 9th-grade student Case Schemmer shared the results of a survey he recently conducted with 100 of his TMJH peers on standards-referenced grading.

– Park City High 2018 graduate Zane Schemmer said the high school prepared him well for his first year at the University of California, Berkeley.

District Announces 2019-20 Administrator Assignments

Park City School Superintendent Jill Gildea has announced the following administrator assignments for the 2019-20 school year.

District Office

Dr. Amy Hunt: Chief Academic Officer (Teaching & Learning) – Dr. Hunt has experience as a science and math teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, executive director of Human Resources and Pupil Services in California districts, as well as leadership in adult education in Granite School District in Utah.

Traci Evans: Federal/State/Competitive Grants, Professional Learning, and Principal Leadership – Evans’ leadership strengths will keep the district’s Title I, Title II, Title III, and Title IV programs moving forward as well as providing innovative leadership in the area of principal mentoring, and professional learning.  Instrumental in securing and managing federal, state, and competitive grants, Evans will oversee implementation of the Digital Teaching & Learning Grant which will provide transformative professional learning experiences for staff.

Mark Wiesenberg: Executive Director, Human Capital and Culture – Wiesenberg has more than 20 years in human resource leadership. He has also worked within non-profit sector at Make-A-Wish leading over 200 volunteers.  Mr. Wiesenberg has experience in all areas of leading, training, managing, and growing exceptional human capital processes and organizational culture.

Openings for a Nutritional Programs Director and Dual immersion/English Language Coordinator are posted and appointments will be announced at a later date. A Career Technology Education (CTE) Director will also be announced once placement is finalized.

Park City High

Assistant Principals Tracy Fike  and Amie Campbell will join Roger Arbabi and Jamie Weekes in the leadership of Park City High School. Most recently, Fike served as Assistant Principal at Ecker Hill Middle School in an interim capacity. Campbell served as Principal/Director for Ogden Preparatory Academy (K-9) for the past six years. With 23 years in education, her teaching experience includes high school teaching, Science Department chair, and volleyball and basketball coach.

Treasure Mountain Junior High

Principal Caleb Fine and Assistant Principal Sam Salinas will join Assistant Principal Missy Tschabrun in the leadership of the 8/9 program throughout the master planning transition. Principal Fine has been a member of Park City School District since August 2009 and has background in financial literacy, business teaching, as well as having served as PCHS Assistant Principal/PCCAPS since August 2016. Salinas has experience in middle school education has implemented PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports), developed School Improvement Plans, and has attained re-designation of EHMS as a School to Watch – a national recognition for excellence in middle education.

Ecker Hill Middle

Principal Amy Jenkins joins Assistant Principal Claustina Reynolds in the leadership of the 6/7 program throughout the master planning transition. Principal Jenkins has served as Assistant Principal at TMJH since 2015. An Assistant Principal, to be named, will also join this leadership team at EHMS.

Parley’s Park Elementary

Daren Houck joins Parley’s Park Elementary as Principal. Principal Houck comes from Coast Episcopal School where he has served as Principal for the past two years. His mix of both private and public school background, experience in high achieving systems, and his family’s relocation to Park City support his placement into this leadership post.

District Moving Forward to Prepare Future Ready Students

“The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children is to keep schooling them the same at a time when every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing,” says Professor Christopher Dede of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“We cannot maintain the status quo when it comes to preparing our students for the world ahead,” says Superintendent Jill Gildea. “Our educators know the critical need of always finding better ways to teach and assess.”

Academic excellence is one of the strategic pillars of Park City School District which is to “develop the potential of every student through data-driven and best learning practices to be academically successful and prepared for life beyond graduation…”      

Park City High is currently ranked 28th in Utah and 3,381 in the national by US News & World. “This is not the best result we can achieve in this community. If our target is to be ranked in the top 1,000, we need an aligned system (including curriculum, instruction, and assessment) which requires intentional and purposeful change.”

The change had its beginning at Ecker Hill Middle School. During the 2005-06 school year, EHMS teachers attended a conference where standards-based grading was discussed. Teachers had been looking for ways to better report student learning and immediately began working on reporting systems in individual classrooms to better reflect student learning.

“Grading belongs at the classroom level, as does professional development, and school-based decisions,” says Dr. Gildea. “At the district level we help ensure that assessment and reporting practices are being reviewed and are responsive to the needs of students.”

As a school, EHMS began the work of unpacking and prioritizing standards through curriculum mapping. Many teachers began to see success as they started to implement standards-based grading. “Our educators are professionals and I’m incredibly proud of them for wanting to move forward with this way of assessing students and reporting progress along a continuum of learning,” says the Superintendent.

Standards-based assessment is not about students competing against one another, according to Dr. Gildea. “It is about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for next generation access to life, career, and college ready outcomes.”

When schools adopt a standards-based mindset it requires a cultural shift. This is not a new system of grading. It has been around since 1983. Dr. Gildea’s previous district has been using standards-based assessment for more than 20 years.

National education consultant Kevin O’Connor says parents have a hard time making this shift. “Standards-based grades are not what parents know so it changes the conversation to an emphasis on words about strengths and weaknesses, not single symbols per subject that have little meaning.”

While some parents may have frustrations about moving to a new reporting system, Dr. Gildea continues to receive positive feedback from teachers, parents and students about this shift and how much it assists teachers in personalizing instruction and learning for all students.

The successes seen in the early stages at EHMS, prompted other schools in the district to begin looking at standards-based assessments. School administrators, instructional leaders, and teachers have had and continue to have external and internal development work. This professional development has originated in a school-based manner with the district providing external experts such as Bob Marzano Associates, Tom Guskey’s team, and Tim Brown of Solution Tree.

Teachers, principals and parents have donated their time, suggestions, learning, ideas, and input in order to fully develop an implementation timeline for all schools. This summer elementary teachers will continue their work aligning mathematics standards, while secondary teachers will continue working on refining the proficiency scales and vertical articulation of learning targets. Ongoing professional learning will also be available through the Digital Teaching and Learning Grant the district was award earlier this year.

This fall, internal and external experts will host  parent forums on college admissions as well as the shift toward a competency-based approach. In August, the district’s Back-to-School Convocation will focus on “Learning Transformed.”

Dr. Gildea anticipates the implementation in schools will continue through 2021-22 with junior high and high school retaining both letter grades and GPA. “We remain committed to defining a system that measures actual student learning, provides meaningful feedback to students and their families on their academic progress, and motivates students to achieve and persevere.”

For more information about standards-based learning and assessment visit the district’s Teaching & Learning homepage here.

Board Meeting Summary | May 21, 2019

Superintendent Report

Superintendent Jill Gildea shared accolades student and staff have received since the last board meeting. She showed Ecker Hill Middle School’s overview of its School to Watch national redesignation and congratulated the school on this prestigious honor.

Dr. Gildea addressed concerns some parents have regarding standards-based learning (SBL). She said SBL has been talked about in the district since 2007, and schools need an aligned system so they can yield the best results for students.

She outlined the three pathways necessary when shifting to SBL: changing the paradigm, building the foundation of standards-based grading, and shifting the report card to reflect a standards-aligned reporting system. The junior high and high school years will secure a letter grade and a GPA as part of their mastery transcripts. The Superintendent said this practice is accepted by colleges and universities globally.

This year 23 educational leaders and nine parents have donated their time, suggestions, learning, ideas, and input in order to fully develop an implementation timeline. Superintendent Gildea said work will continue through the 2021-22 school year to clearly identify pathways and proficiencies for students. Dr. Gildea said there will be ongoing research, input, and implementation planning, and community education around the practice, aligned systems, and college admissions throughout the next school year.

Master Planning

Chris Guarino of NV5 and Christine Richman of GSBS provided the board with an update on the Future of Learning master planning process. GSBS is in the process of finalizing the Education Specifications, Facilities Master Plan, and Facility Condition Assessment. The consultants also reviewed the recent grade alignment survey results. Guarino said the survey had some common themes and the results will be helpful to the board as it evaluates its next steps.

The survey findings include:

– Preschool/early learning students housed in their neighborhood elementary schools: 68.6%

– K-5 grades in elementary school and 6-8 grades in middle school: 51%

– 9th grade at the high school: 84.9%

– Grades 9-12 at one high school in current location: 54.1%

– Did overall cost influence your decision: 2.68 (scale of 1-5)

– Parents: 87.6% of respondents were parents

The board will discuss its next steps and critical priorities during a special work session on June 4.  The full presentation can be viewed here.

Calendar Survey

Superintendent Gildea noted that 56% of those who responded to the district’s calendar survey said they are satisfied with the district’s current calendar. She presented tentative versions of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 calendars. Calendars can be viewed here. The board will take input and vote on the calendars at its June 18 meeting.

Mental Health Month Resolution

The board adopted a resolution recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month in Park City School District. The board encourages students, families, and employees to take the opportunity to learn more about improving mental health and prevently substance abuse.

Joint Use Agreement

The board approved a joint use agreement between Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and Park City Municipal Corporation that provides recreational facilities and programs which are best served through a joint, cooperative and consolidated effort.

Patron Comments

The following individuals addressed the board on the topic of SBL:

– Student: Emily Campbell (Ecker Hill Middle)

– Parents: Julie Engle, Meg Leaf, Ken Canada, Brent Milner, Phoebe Hailey, Lauren Anderson, Glen Anderson, Jenny Campbell, Amy Neff, Lara Lusher, Lizzie Brenkus, Laura Tettelbach, Chris Campbell, Shannon Schemmer, and Molly Campbell

– Educators: Austyn Borjigin (McPolin), Laura Starley (Ecker Hill Middle), Elizabeth Hensler and Shannon Jones (Jeremy Ranch), Principal Roger Arbabi (Park City High)

Board President Andrew Caplan said the district is moving forward and working to improve the overall education for students. He reiterated that the board has hired district leaders from top performing districts and schools because they are progressive, highly qualified academic leaders who wish to raise the level of achievement for Park City schools to be not just the best in Utah, but among the best in nation.

Policies for Posting

– Policy 4006: Cash Management

– Policy 7030: Employee Suggestions and Complaints

– Policy 7055: Jury Duty or Witness in Court

– Policy 7060: Sick Leave Bank

– Policy 7090: Substitute Teachers

– Policy 7130: Sick Leave Incentive

– Policy 7150: Contract Status for Newly Hired Classified Employees

– Policy 7155: Classified Staff Promotions and Transfers

– Policy 10001: Bullying

– Policy 11001: Title I Parent Involvement

Policy Adopted

The board approved revisions to Policy 5000 – Snow Days, with an amendment to add the word “essential” to B.2.

Budget Hearing

The board adopted the FY19 Revised Budget, and approved the FY20 Preliminary Budget. The  FY20 preliminary tax rate was approved, which amounts to an increase of $11 per $100,000 home, or $20 for $100,000 on a secondary home or commercial business The public can offer comment on the tax increase at the district’s Truth-in-Taxation Hearing on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. at the District Office. View the Preliminary Budget here.

Park City High to Graduate Class of 2019 on May 31

Some 366 Park City High School seniors will comprise the Class of 2019 as it graduates Friday, May 31, at 5 p.m. at Dozier Field.

Park City High has graduates planning to attend every college and university in Utah, as well as out-of-state universities such as: Auburn, Baylor, Cal Poly, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Stanford, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Villanova, and Washington & Lee. The Class of 2019 has received more than $13.5 million in scholarships.

Some graduates say they will be taking a gap year to travel the world, serve missions for their church, or enlist in the military.

The Class of 2019 has achieved numerous accolades:

– National Scholar finalists

– Sterling Scholars

– National Speech & Debate Association Academic All-Americans

– A national Edison Universe innovation award winner

– State winner of the Utah Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute’s High School Entrepreneur Challenge; five of the top 20 finalist innovation projects were from Park City High.

– Numerous honors for performing and art students, robotics club, Girls in Tech, and Future Business Leaders of America.

– Athletic honors include a host of regional and state championships, including the boys golf team winning its 11th consecutive state title, the football team playing in the state semifinals for the first time in nine years, the Girls Cross Country team named Interscholastic UIAAA 4A Academic State Champions for its 3.95 GPA.

The gates to Dozier Field open at 4 p.m., no seats are allowed to be reserved prior to this time, and the community is reminded that graduation will also be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/c/PCHSLive/live.

In the event of severe inclement weather, graduation ceremonies will be moved to the Eccles Center. Graduates will each be issued three tickets, with overflow seating in Gymnasiums to watch the live stream.

Those attending are encouraged to allow extra time for parking. Overflow parking is also available at McPolin Elementary, Treasure Mountain Junior High, Park City Academy, and the District Office.

PCHS Marching Band Only Utah Group Performing in Normandy, France, at D-Day 75th Anniversary

June 2019 marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. As part of that anniversary, the Park City High Marching Band will  travel to France to participate in the momentous festivities. The PCHS band is the only Utah group participating in the D-Day celebration.

The band will perform in Normandy June 5-8, including performances at the Brittany American Cemetery at St. James and the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. The cemetery memorial services will be attended by families and dignitaries from around the world.

In additional to their individual performances, the student musicians will perform as part of a combined 1,000 member band that will perform John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen.” Williams have given special permission for the combined band to perform his composition only on June 6 and 7.

The actual commemoration will be held June 8 with each band taking part in the D-Day Memorial Parade and Musical Salute.

The students will perform in Paris on June 9 in town squares throughout the city. Some 75 students will be going to France, including six students who will have graduated a few days before leaving. Students are covering their own expenses for the trip and scholarships are being offered to those who need assistance thanks to the Park City Education Foundation and the generosity of local donors.

Bret Hughes, assistant director of Bands, said he hopes the students gain an understanding of the historical significance of D Day. “This is their chance to be part of something bigger, something that is so important to American and world history,” he said.

In December 2016, the Marching Band participated in the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and Hughes said that experience had a lasting impact on students.

The band rehearses Tuesday and Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. at the high school where they are currently learning technique and rehearsing their musical selections.  A special logo was designed by Park City High band student Valeny Valles, and she received a $1,300 scholarship for her design.

The band has planned a “Send-Off Concert” on Wednesday, May 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Dozier Field. Due to the field being set up for Graduation that Friday, the Marching Band will perform facing East (the Visitors side).  All attendees should sit in the Visitors Bleachers on the East side of the field. (In the event of inclement weather, the performance will be moved into the front Gym at Park City High.) The evening is free to the community.

“We invite the community to attend and hear some of the musical selections we will be performing in Normandy,” Hughes said. “We want to get the community as excited about our trip as we are. It really will be a life-changing experience for our students.”

———–

CONTACT:

Bret Hughes, Assistant Director of Bands, and Director of Percussion, Park City High

Email: bhughes@pcschools.us

Cell: 307-421-3252

PCHS Senior Wins Grand Prize at Edison Universe

Nicholas Markels

Nicholas Markels, a senior at Park City High, has been award Grand Prize at Edison Universe for his Spörknife design. Only two projects nationwide were awarded the Grand Prize in the Edison Universe Student Innovation Contest. His project demonstrates “a desire to make a significant and lasting contribution to the world through innovation which embodies the spirit of Thomas Edison.”

Markels’ solution is a multi-use utensil made out of biodegradable plastic that contains a spoon, fork, knife, and a disposable straw in a single assembly. “I made a utensil that uses a new manufacturing design to lower cost. Spörknife is made as a single unit that splits for use, similar to chopsticks,” he said.

The student entries were judged by a panel made up of Edison Universe executives and CAPS administrators/staff. This year, the judges were impressed by the level of research, commitment, and passion that many of the entries demonstrated. The two Grand Prize winners will receive an adventure travel voucher to either Costa Rica or Peru.

“Nick used so many of the skills he learned in my PCCAPS Engineering and CAD Mechanical Design classes to succeed in this national competition,” said Chris Humbert, CTE and PCCAPS teacher. “He formulated his design, 3D modeled it, iterated and refined that design, and finally communicated his creation, the Spörknife. These skills are all taught in CTE classes and used in ‘the real world.'”

Markels also won a $1,000 Lassonde Studios Scholarship in March from the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute for his Spörknife.

Markels will be attending the University of Portland this fall majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation management.

District Curriculum Specialist Receives PC READS Literacy Award

Julie Hastings
Julie Hastings

Julie Hastings, Park City School District elementary curriculum specialist, was honored with the PC READS Elevating Literacy Award Friday, May 3.

Park City READS is a local nonprofit advocating for recognition and education of dyslexic students that promotes literacy through early identification of struggling readers, effective reading interventions and appropriate classroom accommodations.

Many will know Hastings from McPolin Elementary where she taught first and fourth grades, was the media specialist, and later the instructional coach. She has elementary school in Colorado, and Idaho.

“I am honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Elevating Literacy Award from PC READS. The kindergarten, first, second, and third grade teachers, interventionists, and elementary principals in Park City School District continue to prove their dedication towards improving early literacy efforts for all students,” Hastings said. “PC READS, The Hall Family Fund, and the Park City Education Foundation have supported our district with making this lasting impact.” 

She has a sociology degree and elementary education certificate, as well as an administrative degree and a master’s in educational leadership.

Hastings is passionate about leading communication and visioning efforts with the community concerning the importance of literacy and identifying struggling readers. Earning training certificates in multi-sensory education from Orton Gillingham and Wilson language have increased her desire for bringing evidence-based instruction to every classroom.

She developed and leads an early literacy initiative across all elementary schools in the district and has focused on bringing reading research to the forefront of decision-making. She wrote a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Literacy Guidebook for Park City School District, designed to help teachers identify why students may struggle to read and how to provide effective and targeted instruction to ensure growth and learning. The core of her work is about creating and implementing systems and providing teachers the training necessary to ensure they have the knowledge and confidence necessary to do the hard work of teaching all students to read.