New curriculum director settles in
Merry Haugen recently moved out of her office to make room for the new director of curriculum and instruction for Park City School District, Lori Gardner.
"I’m stepping into pretty big shoes with Merry, she’s been wonderful," Gardner who started on Aug. 1 said. "I want to continue upon the work she’s begun."
That work includes reviewing curriculum, giving input about textbook selection and overseeing the teacher induction program, a three-year process that welcomes new teachers to the school district.
"I personally did not have a positive experience as a novice teacher," she said, adding she is motivated to make sure the same does not happen to others.
Gardner spent 24 years in the Granite School District, the first 10 as a secondary social studies teacher. The remaining time has been in administration, most recently as principal of Hunter Junior High School.
With the many years she has spent in education, Gardner said she also understands teachers who are at the top of their game and looking to mentor others, or those who are feeling a jaded and need to be reinvigorated.
"In the last few years I have really been focused on developing good professional learning for teachers," she said.
Gardner noted that teacher training yields positive results in the classroom.
She will also be coordinating the curriculum in a way that helps students transition between grades, and learn concepts that are reinforced in later years.
"I think it’s so important that teachers have an understanding of what students should have learned and should learn," she said.
Gardner said she has some learning of her own to do as she familiarizes herself with the International Baccalaureate program and other district offerings. Another challenge she is adjusting to is working in area where she said the socioeconomic range is more pronounced than anywhere she has ever worked.
"I’m just very impressed with the range of programs," she said of those in place to help students who are not making the mark.
Originally from Wyoming, Gardner moved to Utah and attended the University of Utah as a political science major. She met her husband, who was studying to become a teacher, and became interested.
"I found that I really enjoyed working with kids," she said.
Now, many years later, a Park City School Board member encouraged her to pursue the position of director of curriculum and instruction, one she said she is excited about.
"If I can do my part to support excellent teachers in the classroom then I will have done my part for Park City," she said.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.