Board Selects Dr. Jill Gildea as Superintendent

Dr. Jill Gildea

After conducting an extensive national search, the Park City School District Board of Education has selected Dr. Jill Gildea as Superintendent. The Board voted today to appoint Dr. Gildea, an experienced educator with demonstrated success in enhancing family and community engagement, in improving student achievement, inspiring innovative learning environments, and demonstrating effective fiscal management.

Dr. Gildea is currently the Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools in Connecticut and brings three decades of education experience to Park City. She has a proven track record in managing school districts using data-driven decisions and sound fiscal practices, working collaboratively with staff and parent groups, as well as with local township governments to fund educational needs.

She is known as a student-centered and future-focused educator who keeps students at the center of all decisions. She has been a Superintendent for 11 years, assistant superintendent, educational programs director, curriculum director, high school division administrator, elementary principal, and has taught at the middle and high school levels.

“Her experience as a Superintendent both in the Chicago area and in Greenwich will bring valuable intellectual capital to our district,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “Her history of helping children succeed academically, socially, and emotionally stood out to the board and made her our first choice for this position. The board looks forward to welcoming Dr. Gildea to our community this summer and we are excited to support her leadership in the coming months and years ahead.”

Dr. Gildea exemplifies the qualities the community identified as those they would like to see in the next Superintendent, and was a top choice for the the 12-member community committee that interviewed candidates.

President Caplan said Dr. Gildea impressed the Board as a strong educational practitioner and thought-leader, well-versed in the national conversation on public education. She values the mission and vision of the Park City School District with its focus on inspiring and supporting all students equitably to achieve their academic and social potential. She has a keen understanding of what it takes to manage systemic change in order to achieve student growth and improve performance, create a master plan for facilities and managerial systems, and to enhance communications and family and community engagement.

“I’m honored to join the Park City School District and to work collectively on the important visionary and strategic work of an exemplary system,” Dr. Gildea said. “From my perspective in visiting other districts across the country through my work with a variety of national organizations, I believe that Park City School District keeps its students at the center of key decisions, and models whole child practice. The District is well poised as a leader not only in Utah, but in the nation. I look forward to joining this talented and dedicated team.”

An award-winning and published educator, Dr. Gildea has been recognized as an exemplary educational leader and for her work in communications and fiscal management. She has worked with implementation of a future-focused strategic plan, master facility planning, and scaling innovative practices.

She has received numerous honors and accolades including: 2014 Finalist for the National Association of School Superintendents’ Superintendent of the Year Award, the National School Public Relations Association 2013 Golden Achievement Award in Communications, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials’ Meritorious Budget Awards in Financial Budgeting for six years running.

Dr. Gildea earned her Doctorate in curriculum and supervision from Northern Illinois University, her Master of Education in language and literacy, and her superintendent’s endorsement from National Louis University, and her Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Bradley University.

Board Selects Two Superintendent Finalists

The Park City School District Board of Education has narrowed its field of candidates for Superintendent to two finalists. The finalists will meet with the board on Saturday for a final round of interviews.

On May 5, five semi-finalists were interviewed by a 12-member committee comprised of staff and community members. That same day, the semi-finalists were also interviewed by the board. The  two finalists were both approved by the community panel as well as the board.

The board will issue a public statement about its selection once a decision has been made, and the board’s consultant, HYA Executive Search, has completed its due diligence.

Board Appoints Two New Administrators

Park City School District Interim Superintendent David Gomez, announced today, May 1, two new administrative appointments for the 2018-19 school year.

Jaclyn Knapp, currently an adjunct faculty member and researcher at Weber State University,  has been appointed Director of Special Education. She begins Aug. 1.

Jamie Weekes, currently a math teacher at Park City High, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Ecker Hill Middle School. This is a one-year appointment.

Jaclyn Knapp

Knapp has been teaching and doing educational outcome research at WSU as well as presenting her research at conferences nationally. She has been  working as the Director of Special Education for a charter co-op. Knapp has worked as a consultant for the Utah State Office of Education and as a school psychologist for Davis School District. She still consults privately as a mental health counselor specializing in working with children and adolescents with behavior problems. She received an Education Specialist degree in psychology and a master’s degree in psychology from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Weber State University.

Jamie Weekes

Weekes has been teaching for the past 15 years at middle school, high school, and summer school levels. She has worked as a math interventionist for eight years in both middle school and high school. Weekes has taught at Park City High the past six years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and is completing her graduate work through Grand Canyon University.

Board Announces Committee to Assist in Selecting Next Superintendent

The Board of Education has selected a 12-member committee to assist in hiring the next Superintendent of Park City School District.

“We had many qualified candidates and did our best to create a mix of individuals who represent the community and district,” said Board President Andrew Caplan.

The committee consists of six district employees and six community members. Individuals will attend an orientation meeting the evening of Friday, May 4, conducted by HYA consultants who will outline the interview process and coordinate questions as well as the schedule and format of the interviews.

Superintendent candidates will be interviewed on Saturday, May 5.

The committee includes:

District Employees

–Bob Edmiston: McPolin Elementary Principal

–Shannon Hase: Park City Learning Academy teacher and parent of secondary students

–Abby McNulty:  Park City Education Foundation Executive and parent of elementary students

–Mark Parker: Treasure Mountain Junior High English Teacher and parent of elementary students

–Lorie Pearce: Executive Assistant to Superintendent

–Carolyn Synan: Trailside Elementary Principal

Community Members

–Fritz Edelstein: Grandparent of middle school and elementary school students, background in education policy

–Kevin Efrusy: Parent of secondary students, background in finance

–Christine Grenney: Parent of elementary students, background in real estate

–Meg Leaf: Parent of secondary students, PTO and SCC member

–Brenda Moss: Parent of secondary students, background in human resources

–Pablo Rojas: Parent of elementary student, background in technology

New Interim Superintendent Appointed

David Gomez

The Park City School District Board of Education has appointed David Gomez as Interim Superintendent.  Mr. Gomez currently serves as principal of Parley’s Park Elementary. The board approved the appointment at its board meeting tonight, April 17. Mr. Gomez begins as Interim Superintendent tomorrow, April 18.

“The board and Superintendent [Ember] Conley have made a collective decision to appoint an Interim Superintendent for Park City School District,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “The board and Dr. Conley feel it is in the best interest of the district to hire someone on a full-time basis until the new superintendent is on board.”

Dr. Conley, who is transitioning to her new position with Mesa Public Schools, is committed to a smooth and effective transition, and will be available to assist the Interim Superintendent and the new PCSD Superintendent once he/she is hired.

Tracy Fike

Tracy Fike will serve as Interim Principal at Parley’s Park Elementary. She is currently the school’s Instructional Technology Coach. Caplan said the district’s Business Administrator Todd Hauber will continue to focus on budget and policy issues and Mr. Gomez will focus on academics.

Mr. Gomez has been principal at Parley’s Park since 2012. Prior to coming to Park City, he was an elementary principal in Granite and Jordan School Districts, and an assistant middle school and elementary principal in Jordan School District. He has also served as the Educational Equity associate director for Granite School District. Mr. Gomez began his career with the Utah State Office of Education as an education specialist for at-risk, Title I students. He holds a master’s degree in public school and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“My goal is to continue the excellence that PCSD is known for, while improving upon some areas of need in order to provide for a smooth transition for the next superintendent,” said Mr. Gomez. “The one thing I will promise is that each decision I make will be based on a single premise —what is best for students. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the entire PCSD community during this transition. Let’s get to work!”

Mrs. Fike has been the Instructional Technology Coach at Parley’s since 2016 and has been an administrative intern at Parley’s Park, Ecker Hill Middle and Park City High. From 2013-16 she was a reading intervention teacher at Ecker Hill Middle. Mrs. Fike has two master’s degrees, one in instructional leadership and one in business administration, and a Bachelor of Arts.

Board Appointing Committee to Assist with Hiring New Superintendent

The Park City Board of Education is inviting district employees and community members to form a 10-member committee to assist the board in the interview process for the position of the new Park City School District Superintendent.

Members of this committee must be able to be present for an orientation meeting May 4 from 5-7 p.m. as well as present for the interviews on Saturday, May 5.

Based on a group size of 10, the committee will be comprised of five school district employees and five at-large community members.

Applications are due Monday, April 23, at 5 p.m., and should be sent via email to Board President Andrew Caplan, acaplan@pcschools.us.

Those applying are asked to include the following responses to the questions below in your email. Applicants are also welcome to attach a resume with the email.

Questions for PCSD Employees

–Why would you like to be on the Superintendent interview committee?

–If you have participated on interviews or hiring committees in the past, please tell us about your experience.

–We hope to have a mix of PCSD employment length and roles on the committee. Tell us how long you have been employed by Park City School District.

–What is your current role and what have your previous roles been?

–What is the single most important characteristic for the next Superintendent to possess?Please feel free to include any other relevant information that you wish to share.

Questions for Community Members

–Why would you like to be on the Superintendent interview committee?

–What previous experience do you have on interview committees or in hiring personnel?

–How long have you lived in the Park City School District?

–Do you have children currently in the district or who have attended PCSD schools in the past? If so, please list their ages and which schools the attend/have attended.

–What is your current or past involvement in the school district? Please list all relevant participation in committee work, volunteering, and relevant work in the field of education.

–What is the single most important characteristic for the next Superintendent to possess?

–Please feel free to include any other relevant information that you wish to share.

2018-19 Administrative Appointments

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley today, March 27, announced two administrative appointments for the 2018-19 school year.

Traci Evans

Traci Evans, currently the principal at Ecker Hill Middle School, has been appointed Interim Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, effective Aug. 1. She replaces Dr. Kathy Einhorn, who is retiring July 31.

Sam Salinas, currently assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle School, has been named Interim Principal at Ecker Hill Middle for the 2018-19 school year. The district will fill the open, one-year assistant principal position at Ecker Hill. The opening will be posted the week of April 16.

Ms. Evans holds Bachelor of Science Degrees in both Elementary Education, and Human Development and Family Studies. She taught second and fifth grade at Parkley’s Park and Jeremy Ranch Elementary Schools before securing her ESL and Level One Reading endorsements and Masters of Science Degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy. She went on to earn her administrative/supervisory license while serving as Assistant Principal at Jeremy Ranch Elementary. Ms. Evans became principal at Ecker Hill in 2010. Under her direction, Ecker Hill was recognized by a national “School to Watch” for the outstanding job it does of meeting the unique needs of middle school students.

Sam Salinas

Mr. Salinas was appointed at Ecker Hill in 2015. He has taught in high schools, middle schools, and universities both in Mexico and the United States throughout his more than 25  years in education. He received his undergraduate from Westminster College in Utah and attained his first Masters of Education from La Universidad Internacional de La Paz in Mexico. He received his second Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. He has worked in school/university administration for 10 years. In 2002 he became the director La Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur Campus Loreto part of the state university system in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

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