Park City High School welcomes a new assistant principal
In addition to the ongoing renovation, more changes will greet Park City High School students as they return to school. One of them is Dave McNaughtan, the new assistant principal.
The former Wasatch High School wrestling coach and alternative high school teacher spent nine years in the Wasatch School District and helped the team become champions. Now he joins the No. 1 high school in Utah.
McNaughtan said what he is looking forward to most is, "the whole experience of being an administrator at one of the top schools."
To leave coaching was difficult, he said, but it is not without its benefits.
"Now (I) get to help make decisions that will benefit all students," McNaughtan said.
He has not ruled out the possibility of assisting the wrestling team at Park City High School. If McNaughtan is asked he said, "I will be happy to go up and help out as time allows."
His focus is on getting prepared for the upcoming school year, though.
The Park City School Board announced his appointment at their meeting on Aug. 1. Since then he has been familiarizing himself with the district. McNaughtan noted a few things he is impressed with.
"Nobody makes excuses, it has been really nice to be a part of that," he said.
Another thing that struck him is the community support for the district.
"I just want to make sure that every kid has the best chance they can to succeed," he said. "I think we can, especially with the supportive community we have here."
This goal echoes what Principal Hilary Hays told The Park Record in an interview last month when she said it is possible to meet the needs of every student.
"I don’t want ‘fall through the cracks’ to even be an option here," she said.
Hays also emphasized the importance of collaboration and team work, something McNaughtan said he supports.
With the portable classrooms separating some of the staff from the main building he said it is important to make sure everyone is still on the same page.
"It’s just a matter of making sure everyone feels like they’re part of the team," he said.
McNaughtan’s other goals include getting every student to pass the Utah Basic Skills Test and encouraging as many students as possible to take advanced-placement classes.
"AP, in my opinion, is the best deal around," he said, noting it is an opportunity for students to earn college credit.
After serving a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mission in South Africa and learning to speak Afrikaans, he said he feels a great deal of empathy for students in the district learning to speak English.
"I know what it’s like to not understand," McNaughtan said.
He is currently working on his second master’s degree, one in educational leadership. McNaughtan is a father of four and lives in Heber, with no plans to relocate to Park City.
After having lived in Utah for 15 years, McNaughtan said he does hope living in Park City will finally inspire him to ski here.
Hays said McNaughtan has brought new ideas to the administration and his experience at Wasatch School District’s alternative high school will help foster growth between PCHS and the Learning Center.
"Dave has a great understanding of students with special needs as well as the laws regarding those students," she said.
She also commented on his school spirit.
"He is a team player and will add a tremendous amount of school community and spirit to PCHS," Hays said.
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