PCSD Employee Named 2020 Utah ESP of the Year

Park City School District Human Resources Coordinator Veronica Claridge has been named the Utah School Employees Association’s 2020 Educational Support Professional of the Year. She was awarded the honor during a surprise district office luncheon on Friday. Members of the district administration along with leaders from both the Utah School Employees Association (USEA) and the Park City Classified Employees Association (PCCEA) joined in celebrating Claridge’s contributions to public education. This is the second year in a row a PCSD employee has won this state honor. 

Education support professionals (ESP) are the support staff — clerical services, custodial and maintenance, food services, health and student services, paraeducators, security services, skilled trade services, technical services and transportation services — who work tirelessly to ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, challenged and supported.

As the winner of USEA’s award, Claridge will be Utah’s nominee for the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year. She will attend the national conference and awards event this Spring in New Orleans. She will also travel throughout the state to meet members, raise awareness of ESP issues and advocate on their behalf.

Claridge has been with  Park City School District since 1999. In addition to her work in Human Resources, she has also been the head secretary at McPolin Elementary, and an administrative assistant for Student Services. 

“I am honored to be named the Outstanding Education Support Professional of the Year for the State of Utah,” said the mother of three. “I work with several outstanding ESPs and am humbled to even have been considered. It is my hope that I will represent Park City School District as well as the State of Utah well at the national level.”

District Seeking Substitute Bus Drivers

Park City School District is looking for substitute bus drivers to begin work immediately. This is an ideal position for retirees, parents with students in school, and college students.

Starting pay is $18.65/hour, and the district provide all the training.
Substitute drivers work up to 29 hours during the week. Those who do not have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) can earn it from the district while also getting paid for the training.

Benefits include:
• Work Schedule is through the second week of June
• Summers off with the possibility of summer driving opportunities
• Split shifts = freedom during the day
• No required weekends
• Extra work available, if desired
• Ongoing regular training instruction and professional development provided
• Ability to work outdoors
• Holidays off

Park City School District is looking for substitute bus drivers to begin work immediately. This is an ideal position for retirees, parents with students in school, and college students.

Starting pay is $18.65/hour, and the district provide all the training.
Substitute drivers work up to 29 hours during the week. Those who do not have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) can earn it from the district while also getting paid for the training.

Benefits include:
• Work Schedule is through the second week of June
• Summers off with the possibility of summer driving opportunities
• Split shifts = freedom during the day
• No required weekends
• Extra work available, if desired
• Ongoing regular training instruction and professional development provided
• Ability to work outdoors
• Holidays off

Those interested must be at least 21 years of age, and hold a high school diploma or GED. For more information call 435-645-5600 or apply here: https://pcsd.munisselfservice.com/employmentopportunities/default.aspx

The Benefits Are Many for Students in After-School Programs

Photo courtesy of EATS Park City

Park City School District knows the benefits of after-school programs—such as improving social skills, providing academic support, making learning fun, building confidence, and providing safety and supervision. And that’s why after-school programs are offered to nearly 450 students at all four of its elementary schools as well as Ecker Hill Middle School. 

The program is held every day that school is in session, from the end of the school day until 6 p.m. “Our goal is to provide a safe, educational and enriching environment for children while providing a quality child care option for parents,” said Kimberly Patterson, program coordinator. 

Each day includes homework help, physical education and exercise, STEM and Literacy and a healthy snack. Students also get the chance to take part in monthly field trips and special enrichment programs from community partners.  Some of the field trips from the past school year included the Hogle Zoo, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, The Bill White Farm, Ecker Hill and Kamas pools. EATS Park City also provides cooking classes for students.

The programs are staffed with fully qualified, trained teachers and specialists who follow national after-school standards. Parents who are interested in observing the camp prior to enrollment are encouraged to stop by during camp hours and speak with the teachers.

“Our After-School Programs are truly one of the very best opportunities we provide for our students and their families,” said Patterson. “Our program is an extension of the school days with the added benefit of hands-on enrichment and learning.”

There are still openings in the program for this school year.  Parents can register any time throughout the school year, based on availability. Cost varies depending on the number of days the student attends. Scholarships are available for those who qualify. 

Those interested can learn more here and register online in English or Spanish

The After-School program is coordinated through the district’s Community Education Department with the support of the Park City Education Foundation and a generous donation this year from the United Way. 

New Transition Program Introduced for Park City High Students

The first days of school this year were a bit different for a group of high school students.  While most were becoming accustomed to classroom routines, the new Transition Program for Park City High students participated in an app-based scavenger hunt via Park City Transit. As part of the hunt, they had to locate all the community businesses and organizations they will frequent this year in the community-based program. 

Thanks to funding approved by Park City School District, special education services are now provided a comprehensive program that assists them in transitioning into the workplace.  “The curriculum is focused on job readiness, independent living skills, and functional academic high school classes,” said Kara Brechwald, Special Education specialist. “Students will also create individualized transition portfolios thanks to a career and college readiness grant from the Park City Education Foundation.”

Already, the high school seniors have developed resumes and cover letters and are in the process of applying for employment or internships in their career field of choice. “Our sophomores and juniors are learning about self-determination, including their strengths and interests, to begin the process of outlining their plans for career exploration,” said Brechwald.

“We are so excited to be able to offer extended support for our students who need help making successful transitions,” she said.

Niche ranks PCSD as Best District in Utah

Niche  just released its 2020 Best Schools in America rankings and grades, and Park City School District ranks as the “Best School District in Utah.”

Rankings and grades are calculated using a series of steps to ensure statistical rigor and useful guidance in the school choice experience.  Niche analyzes dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for every K-12 school, college, and neighborhood in the U.S.

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.

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.

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 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.