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.

District Seeking Feedback through Calendar Survey

Park City School District has partnered with Hanover Research to a conduct comprehensive survey of staff, students, parents, and the community to gather input that will enable the district to develop a school calendar for the next three to five years.

The survey opened today, April 24, and can be taken in English or Spanish by clicking here. The survey closes May 8. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Responses will remain strictly confidential and all data will be stored securely on Hanover’s private servers. No information that could be used to identify specific individuals will be reported or released.

District Appoints Chief Operations Officer

Michael Tanner

In an effort to provide more efficient day-day-to operations, Park City School District has appointed Michael Tanner as its Chief Operations Officer. As COO he will oversee the departments of facilities and grounds, maintenance, transportation, child nutrition services, and community education.

Tanner has worked in similar roles for other school districts over the past 15 years. He was selected following a national search by an independent search firm.

Tanner has extensive experience in education, as well as corporate, government, and military management. “Mike comes to us with a broad range of supervisory and leadership skills,” said Superintendent Jill Gildea. “He will be a tremendous asset because of his strong background in master planning, bonding, budget administration, transportation, finance, and marketing.”

He has a MBA in Finance and Marketing, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Natural Resources Management. He is a certified Chief School Business Official and also has a Secondary Education teaching certificate.

“After considering a move to Park City for many years, my family and I are very excited to finally get the opportunity to become part of the community,” said Tanner. “I am honored to join the fine school district team, and look forward to leading the group effort to bring a number of operational improvements to the district. I hope to leverage my background to provide communication, visibility, accountability and execution for the community, and serve as a force to help drive positive change.”

In addition to his public education background, he has served in the United States Air Force since 1996 as a Pilot and Contingency Airlift Director. He collaborates with senior military and state department leadership to frame airlift requirements, articulate system capabilities and limitations, conceive strategic airlift plans, and mobilize resources to orchestrate international airlift operations in support of U.S. wartime and humanitarian relief missions.


The Facts About Standards-Based Learning

The following is a guest editorial written by Park City School District that was published in the Park Record March 6, 2019.

As Park City School District transforms our schools to meet the needs of the future, it is critical we examine the ways we prepare and engage students. Our mission is to inspire and support all students equitably to achieve their academic and social potential.

Standards based logo

How do we know if students are reaching their academic potential? Grades should reflect student proficiency in relation to a specific standard. Standards-based learning (SBL), which has been around since 1983, encourages students to take ownership of their learning. It empowers them to improve understanding of a concept and advocate for multiple ways in which they can demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

SBL is a method of providing feedback that separates academic achievement from habits, efforts, and behaviors. It is a more accurate reflection of what a student actually knows and can do. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of SBL is that it encourages students to view learning as an ongoing process that doesn’t end after an assessment.

We hope the following information illustrates our student-centered vision and why we believe SBL will help our students feels supported, engaged, and challenged.

Three years ago teachers at Ecker Hill Middle School realized that its reporting system needed to be an accurate method that recognized students’ accomplishments and specific needs. Through school visits, research, and professional development, the educators realized SBL was the best way to go to assist students in their growth and achievement. Now three years later, Ecker Hill Middle has piloted the system and fully implemented this school year.  The students now receive a composite score of 1, 2, 3 or 4 in each subject which is calculated by averaging the proficiency score for each standard in each subject. A “3” means a student is proficient in that subject.

Because SBL was teacher driven at a local school, there has not been district-level coordination until this school year when we realized all our schools were interested in using a consistent system. This year we created two district task forces to assist with educating parents about SBL. Since the remaining schools will not fully implement SBL until 2022, we are in the beginning stages of educating  parents districtwide about SBL and its value to students.

To date, more than half of Treasure Mountain Junior High teachers are using SBL scales to assess learning and the school plans to fully implement SBL by August 2020. Individual teachers and departments at Park City High have started to use SBL scales. Secondary students will continue to earn a traditional letter grade in a course, and the high school transcript will look the same as it has in the past. The course letter grade will be determined according to a proficiency-based grading scale. Our elementary schools are exploring the use of SBL, developing scales, and some teachers are beginning to assess mastery of standards separately from behavior and work habits.

Ultimately, students are the ones who will benefit the most from SBL. The key tenant of SBL is understanding where each student is on the road to mastery, not just at the end of the year, but constantly throughout the year.

Parents, if you have questions we invite you to meet with your teachers and/or principal to have your questions answered.  More resources and research about SBL is available on our Teaching & Learning website.

New State Assessments Coming This Spring

Assessments play an important role in preparing students for the future. Beginning in April, students in grades 3-8 throughout Utah will take the new RISE standards assessment test. RISE, which replaces SAGE, will offer a baseline for student learning, while ensuring that student growth and proficiency reflect what a student knows and can do.

Students in grades 9 and 10 will participate in the Utah Aspire Plus, a high school assessment that provide a predictive score for their college readiness assessment (ACT).

Andrew Frink, technology and assessment director for the district, encourages students and parents to seriously consider participating in the tests. “Our opt-out rates have typically been too high to feel confident about the data we have received at a school-wide level,” Frink said. “The state has contracted these two assessments for 10 years and that will give us stability as we move forward.”

The tests provide students with feedback on how they are doing, and it allows teachers to see if their instruction matches the state standards, Frink said. “Additionally, it provides us with a good look at how we are doing as a system.”

About RISE (Readiness, Improvement, Success, Empowerment)

Students in grades 3-8 will take RISE assessments in ELA and Math (grades 3-8), Science (grades 4-8), and Writing (grades 5 and 8). The assessment is a multistage computer adaptive criterion referenced assessment system.

Benefits of RISE:

– A new interface that allows full navigation – backward, forward, review and revise.

– New and enhanced reports (for students, teachers and administration).

– Writing portion of the tests will now only be for grades 5 and 8.

– Test questions are aligned to Utah core standards, utilizing questions developed over the past five years by Utah teachers.

– Provides teachers tools to inform their instruction and increase student achievement.

– Helps answer two questions: “how good is the school?” and “is the school improving?”

Learn more about RISE here.

About Utah Aspire Plus

Frink said the Aspire Plus test ties to the ACT which is “great practice for our high school students. We have a very high rate of students taking the ACT and this test in 9th and 10th grade will prepare them for the ACT.”

Utah Aspire Plus, which will be given toward the end of the school year, is a custom assessment that aligns to Utah Core Standards. Students will be tested in English, Reading, Math, and Science.

Learn more about Utah Aspire Plus here.

Board Seeks Input on Student Wellness Policy

The Park City Board of Education is updating its students wellness policy and is asking the community, parents, students, and educators for feedback.

The district is committed to providing a school environment that enhances learning and development of lifelong wellness practices. It recognizes the relationship between adequate nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement.

The policy, which can be viewed here, outlines the district’s nutrition programs and promotion, nutrition guidelines for all foods available on campus during the school day, and nutrition education.

The wellness policy is posted for its required 20 days during which time the district accepts public comment. Feedback can be sent to Lorie Pearce, lpearce@pcschools.us prior to Dec. 17. The board anticipates adopting the policy at its Dec. 18 regular session.

PCHS Custodian Selected as Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Education Support Professional

 Park City High School custodian Candelario “Cande” Ponce was recognized as Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Education Support Professional of the Year during a surprise assembly at the high school today, Tuesday, Nov. 20. Park City School District administrators along with leaders from both the Utah School Employees Association (USEA) and the Park City Classified Employees Association (PCCEA) joined students and staff in honoring Ponce as their unsung hero.

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, Ponce will be Utah’s nominee to the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year. He will attend the national conference in March 2019 in Las Vegas. Ponce will also travel throughout the state to meet members, raise awareness of ESP issues and advocate on their behalf.

Ponce has been a custodian at Park City High since 2009. “Schools today are filled with many young people who are hurting emotionally and struggling with self-identity,” says PCHS biology teacher Ed Mulick. “To have a humble, caring role model like Cande present in our school and taking interest in others, helps create an environment of security, peace, and acceptance…his strong dedication to his job represents the essence of his character.”

A father of five, he and his wife own a successful food business open 12 hours a day, seven days a week – all while working full-time as a school custodian. “All who know Cande and his calm and humble way tend to gravitate to him,” says Maryann Gilmore, Area 4 USEA Executive Board member.

PCHS outscores state, nation on ACT

Park City High School graduates outscored their counterparts in Utah and across the country on the 2018 ACT (American College Test)

PCHS had a composite score of 23.7, compared to Utah’s composite of 20.4 and the national composite of 20.8.  Park City graduates have seen a steady increase in ACT scores the past four years

“We have amazing students and teachers,” said Principal Roger Arbabi. “The results are an indication of rigor in the classroom and college readiness.”

Scores by section include:

English: 23.6  compared to 19.4 in Utah, 20.2 nationally

Mathematics: 22.6 compared to 19.9 in Utah, 20.5 nationally

Reading: 24.3 compared to 20.0 in Utah, 21.3 nationally

Science: 23.8 compared to 20.5 in Utah, 20.7 nationally

The ACT is is designed to measure skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.  ACT Research has shown that it is the rigor of coursework – rather than simply the number of core courses – that has the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness.

Some 390 PCHS students took the ACT in 2018, 43,791 students took the ACT statewide, and nearly 2 million students nationwide took the ACT in 2017-18.

Police and District Ask Parents to Help Ensure Drug-Free Schools

Student safety and well being is paramount. The Park City community cares about the health and well-being of each student.

Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea is asking parents to work with the district and law enforcement to ensure safe and drug-free schools remain the norm.

Vaping devicesNationally and locally, schools are confiscating a variety of drug paraphernalia including vaping devices. Since the start of the school year, Park City School District staff have recovered drug paraphernalia in a variety of vaping devices (see photo).

“It is not appropriate for students to bring tobacco, alcohol, or drugs to the learning environment,” said Superintendent Jill Gildea. “Our students have a right to expect a safe and drug-free learning environment. Prevention education, disciplinary consequences, and appropriate interventions and supports are provided to students who are found to have brought e-cigarettes, tobacco, or any drug or look-alike substance to schools.”

One such incident occurred today when a 9th grade student was transported to the hospital after a medical incident. The student allegedly smoked THC from a vaping pen. The 9th-grade student who provided the THC was referred to police.

Park City Police remind parents to check their students’ backpacks, bedrooms, and cars for drug and vaping paraphernalia. Those parents who need additional resources related to substance abuse should contact the Summit County Health Department.

“It’s important we get this information in the hands of parents,” said Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter. “We cannot deal with the issue alone. We need to enlist the help of parents and peers.”

If anyone locates anything suspicious they should contact law enforcement immediately.


News Media Contacts:

– Melinda Colton, Park City School District Communications Director, 801-631-7770

–Capt. Phil Kirk, Park City Police Department PIO, 435-731-0082