School District outlines personalized learning approach to help students excel

Transition detailed during inaugural State of the District

Pamela Manson
For The Park Record
The Park City School District office.
Park Record file photo

The Park City School District has started a transition to a more personalized learning approach by providing activities and instruction to help students understand their strengths and interests and design their learning experiences.

The district will continue implementing an instructional framework that provides a viable curriculum for all students and will create a “human-centered culture that recognizes the whole individual,” among other steps, Amy Hunt, the district’s chief academic officer, said Wednesday.

“Our strategic approach to spend the next five years setting up base camp to reach the summit will provide our students with great opportunity to reach their potential and to be prepared for every possibility,” she said.

Hunt spoke at the inaugural State of the District event, which administrators plan to hold annually. The event originally was scheduled to take place at Ecker Hill Middle School but took place online because of a COVID-19 surge.

As part of the effort, a new program, Elementary Enrichment Fridays, was introduced last fall at the beginning of the school year. Elementary students will participate four times in a rotation covering exploration of careers; activities that apply learning to real-life situations; social and emotional skills building; and enriching activities provided by community groups.

James Martin, principal of Trailside Elementary School, said 2021-2022 will be an important time in setting up the district for the future.

“Helping students to see and design their personal pathway begins the moment that they begin in our schools,” he said.

Superintendent Jill Gildea thanked educators, district personnel, the Board of Education, community members and others for their efforts helping students. The school district has about 5,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Despite any obstacles or challenge thrown our way, we are persistent in providing opportunities for our students to achieve and excel,” Gildea said. “Our students are safe, supported, engaged, challenged and healthy whether we are working with our earliest learners in pre-K through high school graduation and beyond.”

Chief Operating Officer Mike Tanner said one challenge in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping up with evolving guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Utah Department of Health and the Summit County Health Department.

The pandemic also had a significant impact on everything from food service to transportation, Tanner said.

“It’s changed the way that we make meals,” he said. “It’s changed the way we transport our children. It’s changed our safety protocols. It’s changed all of the things that we do to keep your children safe in school.”

Some parents had voiced concerns in the fall that officials were not strictly enforcing a mask mandate imposed at some schools by Summit County.

But Tanner said that thanks to robust mitigation efforts from the beginning of the health crisis — including social distancing and hand washing — “I’m proud to say that we’ve done a great job in making those things work.”

The presentation included a review of school construction and renovation projects being funded by a $79.2 million capital project bond that voters approved in November. The expansion of Jeremy Ranch and McPolin elementary schools will start first, with groundbreaking scheduled this April or May and work completed in August 2023.

In addition to the State of the District, administrators are planning to hold a Welcome to Our Schools Picnic in August and a town hall in May every year as part of their community outreach efforts.


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