Park City Day School founding chair Kristi Cumming steps down | ParkRecord.com

Park City Day School founding chair Kristi Cumming steps down

For Kristi Cumming, the last five years all came down to an important choice.

She was a member of the Board of Trustees for the now-defunct The Colby School, and it was set to merge with another independent school called Park City Academy. But her family’s future was uncertain, and it was unclear whether staying in Park City and devoting herself to the new school was the right move.

"I still remember the day when my husband looked at me and said, ‘Do we want to stay in Park City? Do we want to commit to this?’" Cumming said. "My answer was ‘yes.’"

After committing to Park City, Cumming became the founding chair of the Board of Trustees of the merged school, called Park City Day School. Five years and endless hours of hard work later, she is confident she took the right path.

"Our enrollment is great, financially we’re healthy," she said. "After five years, I think we have a solid foundation."

Cumming’s time helping to lead the school has come to a close, however, as she is stepping down as chair of the Board of Trustees. After playing a crucial role in getting the school off the ground, she said it’s time to hear from voices other than hers.

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"I came with a certain skillset, but change is important," said Cumming, a former alpine ski racer for the U.S. Ski Team. "It’s good for different leadership to take over. Five years is a lot of work, and I’m ready for something new."

Navigating Park City Day School’s first five years was seldom easy. The school’s leadership was building it from the ground up, and it at times seemed like a mission that was destined to fail. Cumming said it was "probably the hardest job I’ve ever done."

"There were difficult times when I wasn’t sure if the school was going to be able to go over that hump," she said. "And it wasn’t so much financial, because that was never an issue, but it was more the philosophy of the school and who were we going to be and what would we stand for. And that took some time to process."

Part of the difficulty stemmed from the fact everyone involved in creating the school came from different backgrounds. Some wished to emphasize test scores and metrics. Others were focused on ensuring students’ creative sparks were stoked.

Those differences became strengths over time, however. And now the school is beginning to flourish. A separate middle school building created three years ago has been a success, and the school’s enrollment currently sits at a healthy 208, a number Cumming expects to grow by the start of the school year.

"We had to make compromises to bring all of those people together," she said. "Now looking back on it, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in five years. But it’s a huge compliment to the founding trustees because they worked very hard to create what we have today."

Cumming will still be involved at the school, despite relinquishing her leadership role. She still has two students in the school and will remain on the Board of Trustees when her replacement, Rick Nemeroff, takes over as chair. She’s put in too much hard work over the last five years to walk away completely.

"I feel so lucky to have learned so much," she said. "So me leaving at this time, I’m not saying anything is perfect, but we’re in a solid spot, a really good place. It’s a good time for a transition."