Treasure Mountain principal chases a new opportunity
May 12, 2015
David McNaughtan was not looking for an opportunity to leave.
But when a chance arose for the Treasure Mountain Junior High principal to work near his home in Wasatch County, he knew he had to take it. The Park City School District recently announced McNaughtan will depart after the school year to become the principal at Timpanogos Intermediate School in the Wasatch School District.
"I was really happy here and not really looking for anything else," said McNaughtan, who has spent nine years as an administrator in Park City, the last three at Treasure Mountain. "But I had some friends tell me the position was opening up, and it got me thinking. And in the end, it was an opportunity to work much closer to home. I get to be on the same schedule as my kids."
McNaughtan said he will look back fondly at his time in Park City, saying, "It really has been a great place to work." In fact, he hopes to bring a little bit of Park City to Wasatch County. He wants the community to adopt Park City’s education-minded culture.
"There’s obviously more money that goes toward education in this town, and the parents are fantastic," he said. "The one thing when I got here that was very apparent was the high expectations that were set. Parents expect their kids to go to top-notch colleges, teachers expect the kids to perform well and the kids expect to be taught well. There’s a lot of academic success."
Although his time at Treasure Mountain is winding down, McNaughtan remains in charge through the school year’s final weeks. That includes making decisions about next year’s schedules and assemblies, as well whether or not to retain teachers.
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"I have very much tried to say, ‘I’m here,’ because decisions still have to be made," he said. "I’ve had some that have said, ‘What do you care? You’re not going to be here next year.’ But I’m fully invested in making the right decisions and doing the right things for these kids, for these teachers, for this building."
At the same time, he’s remained aware that his decisions will affect the school after he’s gone and has worked closely with assistant principal Emily Sutherland to ensure he’s making the right ones.
"I want to make sure she’s not living with a decision that she didn’t agree with for next year," McNaughtan said.
McNaughtan is most proud of helping implement policies within the district that allow for more teacher collaboration. As an assistant principal at Park City High School, he helped push for weekly late-start days to give teachers more prep time. At Treasure Mountain, he lobbied for more early-out days.
"I feel like I’ve been very much a part of trying to create the professional learning community philosophy that we’re really getting into at the district," he said. "We’re really now starting to see what that can do."
McNaughtan is looking forward to the challenge of working with a new age group at Timpanogos Intermediate School, which houses fifth- and sixth-graders. He said he is interested in finding out what makes younger children passionate about school — something that students often lose as they get older.
"You never hear from an elementary student that they hate school or don’t want to go to school like you do when they hit high school and junior high," he said. "I want to find out what causes that."
Ember Conley, superintendent of the Park City School District, said leadership is one of the key attributes McNaughtan brought to the district.
"Mr. McNaughtan is an instructional leader that has passion to ensure that students have excellent learning opportunities," she said in an email response to The Park Record. "His energy and liveliness will be greatly missed by our administrative team."
The district has moved quickly to find his replacement. Conley said the district is finishing interviews this week and will announce a new principal by Monday.
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