Superintendent featured in American School Board Journal

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley is featured in the February issue of the “American School Board Journal” produced by the National School Boards Association. She was interviewed for the article, “Killer Epidemic: Schools Deal with the Repercussions of the Opioid Crisis.”

In the magazine, Dr. Conley discusses the deaths of two 13-year-old middle school students who fatally overdosed within days of one another in September 2016.  She quickly learned the “depths and breadth” of the opioid crisis in Park City and Summit County. “We listened to a career drug enforcement agent tell us that this epidemic is the worst drug crisis in the nation’s history,” she told the national publication.

The superintendent emphasized bringing students into the conversation following the deaths of the two eighth-grade students. The article states: “Many students mentioned that they’d only been taught to say no. Instead, they wanted to know the consequences of drug use. The district responded by revamping the drug abuse component of its life skills curriculum, emphasizing the impact of drugs on brain development. It began introducing these concepts to students starting in late fourth grade. The district also emphasized a culture that promotes a safe, healthy, and engaged environment for students and teachers. Programming around mindfulness and yoga have taken off in the elementary schools. There’s been added focus on nutrition and the importance on rest and rejuvenation. A teacher training initiative emphasizes focusing on students’ unique strengths. To help guide and coordinate its increased mental health outreach, wraparound support programs, staff training, and counseling efforts, the district created a new position: assistant superintendent of student wellness.”

“Utah has the highest suicide rate in the nation, the fourth highest opioid use,” Conley told Michelle Healy, associate editor of American School Board Journal who wrote the article. “Our students are coming to us with [an array] of issues. Being able to add additional staff, counseling, training, and conversation has been extremely important.”

Dr. Conley told the magazine that the school board put together a two- to three-year plan to fund the district’s new resources. It also supported the decision to stock all district schools—elementary, middle, and high—with naloxone, the opioid-overdose reversal drug often referred to by its brand name, Narcan. School nurses and first responder teams in each school have been trained in its use, she said.

The American School Board Journal is an award-winning monthly education magazine published by the National School Boards Association.

Superintendent Receives Chief’s Award from Park City Police Department

Dr. Ember Conley, Superintendent of Park City School District, received the Chief’s Award from the Park City Police Department for her contributions to the community.

Dr. Conley was given the award at the Police Department’s meeting today, Jan. 4.  Chief Wade Carpenter said she was honored for her efforts in improving safety training and security at all Park City schools. She has also worked to increase collaboration with Park City Police, including co-creating press releases, and establishing cohesive values and messages.

“I am incredibly touched and humbled by the recognition to me, and by extension, my entire team.  It exemplifies community teamwork for the good of our students,” Dr. Conley said.

Chief Carpenter said Superintendent Conley is “a fighter and I have a ton of respect for her. I appreciate your dedication to students.”

The superintendent is a national speaker and advocate to combat opioid crisis in youth and has had articles published in national magazines.

She has worked to improve outreach with Latino community by creating an entire department for student outreach.

Under her leadership, the school district has increased awareness on student wellness and mental health by increasing staff to support families and students. And she has enhanced community partnerships, including the  Summit County Health Department and helped establish Communities That Care.

Superintendent Notifies Board – Last Day is June 30, 2018

Superintendent Ember Conley

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley announced today, Dec. 6, she will not seek renewal of her current contract. Her last day as superintendent will be June 30, 2018. She will remain available to transition the new superintendent until Jan. 31, 2019.

“I wanted to provide the board with ample time to select a superintendent who will continue the important work that we have been doing over the last five years,” Dr. Conley said. “A successful transition is extremely important as we move into the next chapter for leadership in Park City School District.”

Dr. Conley has served as superintendent in Park City since 2013. Prior to that she served as a school and district administrator for nine years in Colorado and Arizona.

“My singular focus has been to provide choices and opportunity where students are excited to learn. I will remain fully committed to this vision we created.  As the head administrator I stand with my team in recognizing the tremendous accomplishments we have been able to achieve at PCSD for our students.”

As superintendent, Dr. Conley is responsible for the overall academics and educational experiences with curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional practice; District Office management; administrative team management; budget oversight (including supervising the planning, preparation and presentation of the annual budget and making recommendation to the board for approval); resources and facilities; and knowing current national education trends.

“Dr. Conley and her leadership will be greatly missed. The Park City School District has grown leaps and bounds during her tenure in our community,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “The Board thanks Dr. Conley for her exemplary service and commitment to our district and wishes her the best in her future endeavors. We look forward to celebrating her accomplishments with the community this spring.”

During her time at PCSD, Dr. Conley’s accomplishments include:

–Park City High named one of the top 500 schools in the nation

–Increased graduation rate from 89% in 2013  to 97% in 2017, which is the top 1% of the country

–Awarded elementary school, Jeremy Ranch Elementary, as a National Blue Ribbon School, the first in PCSD

–Lead two successful contract negotiations with staff after coming into an environment of federal mediation for contract negotiations

–Improved the achievement gap for Latino students

–A top  five Advanced Placement rate district in Utah with a 75% participation rate and a 70% pass rate with the distinction of being awarded top AP School in the state in 2015 and the top two AP students in the state in 2016

–National speaker and advocate to combat opioid crisis in youth with two national publications in School Administrator Magazine and the ASCD Education 

–Improved outreach with Latino community by creating an entire department for student outreach

–Enhanced community partnerships, including the establishment and support of Communities that Cares and Summit County Health Department

–Developed STEM programs at all elementary schools

–Implemented coding for all elementary students

–Added a gifted and talented specialist at each elementary school

–Developed the Beverly Taylor Sorenson dance specialist at Parley’s Park Elementary

–PCSD was named the only Apple Distinguished Program  in Utah for 2014-16 for implementation of its “one-to-one” initiative that supplies students (grades 2-12) with laptops to use in the classroom and to take home

–In U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings, Park City High is one of only three high schools in Utah to earn a gold medal

–Successful implementation of international recognized Dual Language programs by the Spanish and French Embassies

–Added crucial administrative staff — Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness and Director of Communications — with a focus on student wellness

–Doubled the number of nurses in the district from 3 to 6 to address student health needs

–Created new academic program, Summit Learning, for the Park City Learning Academy

–Increased counselors and added social worker counselors to support families and students

–Developed nationally recognized full-day preschool program and added free all-day kindergarten for all students (the only district in the state)

–Named to two national education organization boards that include AASA and the Horace Mann Executive Board

Superintendent sends safety letter to parents

Superintendent Ember Conley emailed the following letter this morning to all parents in Park City School District outlining the safety procedures the district followed during Tuesday’s lockdown/lockout at schools on the Kearns Campus.

November 17, 2017

Dear Parents,

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we managed and evaluated our Kearns Campus lockdown/lockout earlier this week. Our staff had recently reviewed the district safety procedures with students after the University of Utah shooting; and our schools were prepared because of the safety drills and reviews we conduct throughout the year.  

We are appreciative of the Park City High student who saw the individual and immediately reported it to school authorities. Law enforcement was called and the Park City Police were able to apprehend the individual and secure all Kearns Campus schools within 40 minutes. We have asked the City Attorney to charge the individual to the full extent of the law.  Additionally, we have followed our school district policies and carried out necessary actions to prevent this occurring in the future with the individual.

In debriefing with the team, we did have an incident at McPolin Elementary where a few students were sent outside to their modular classroom during the lockout. This should not have occurred; and we have reviewed proper procedures with the principal and staff.  As a parent of an elementary aged student, I can imagine the fear and frustration that a few parents have felt.

As we always do, we debriefed Wednesday morning with our administrative team, who debriefed within their individual schools. We have also received feedback and suggestions from our PTOs, which are very helpful. We meet this next week with our district safety team and will make necessary modifications to our procedures.These modifications often times result in more practice of the protocol, addressing areas of deficiencies, and changing systems, like technology and communication. We are in the process of looking at different emergency notification systems and will alert parents when we have that in place.

As a reminder, in the event of a school or community emergency that requires school lockout (secure perimeter), lockdown(secure perimeter and inside building), shelter in place, closure, or evacuation status, information will be provided to parents as soon as possible. Our first priority is to work with law enforcement to notify our schools and employees so they can take the proper precautions with our students.

Parents, please allow emergency personnel full access to the emergency by remaining clear of the school. We are reviewing several emergency notification systems that offer state-of-the-art technology so we can notify you more immediately. Our first priority is to mitigate the situation at hand with staff and students. We will alert parents as soon as we possibly can. Until we have the alert system purchased and implemented, the fastest mode of communication is our district Facebook page and website. As always, we encourage students with cell phones to text their parents, stating that they are safe and to await notification from the school district and law enforcement.  

We reaffirm our commitment to student and staff safety and will do all we can to improve our protocol and our communication with parents.

Sincerely,

Ember Conley, Superintendent