Superintendent relays his vision
Superintendent Ray Timothy came to Treasure Mountain International School to speak to the Parent Teacher Student Organization Thursday. He spoke passionately of his vision for the district. Much of that vision corresponds with a book he continually cites.
He said the Park City School District is one of the best in the nation in a town where people value education highly. He said the district and town is revered. However, he spoke of growing up in a very different Park City.
Timothy described Park City in the ’60s and ’70s before the ski industry gained a stronghold, when the town had a ragged reputation. "It was embarrassing," Timothy said. "I asked my mother not to mention to people that we were from Park City. What a great community it is now."
Timothy said this is a very different year from last year, when district budget woes threatened the continuing school programs parents coveted.
"Last year created some real problems," he said. "You lose trust when you start talking cutting budgets. You are essentially pulling the rug out from under them."
Timothy said he still sees morale as a problem. "We have to continually let the staff know they are appreciated."
He said communication is imperative. He said he believes in a district exhibiting an open-door policy. "We must reach out and listen. People who are impacted by decisions have to help make the decisions."
Anyone wanting to understand Timothy’s vision would be well served by reading "The World is Flat" by columnist Thomas Friedman. "This book raises my anxiety to no end," Timothy said. "It used to be true that people in the United States had an advantage over people in other countries. Now, as Friedman points out, anyone can live anywhere in the world and be competitive with anyone else."
That led to Timothy’s recipe for scholastic excellence. "If you want to survive in the new world you need to be competitive with 21st century skills," he said.
He said that kids these days are "high wired," sometimes juggling computer, conversation and text messaging all at once. He said it has become necessary to have kids "power down" before they enter the classroom, but at the same time use technology that will train them for their lives ahead.
Timothy said that that these days the district is one of extremes. "At one end we have English-language-learners ranging to the other end of the spectrum. We have to look at individual needs and ask ourselves, how we meet the needs of both. That will probably be our biggest challenge."
One of the biggest challenges to all students, Timothy said is the "transition years," when students move to new schools. "They are moving from a small pool into a big pool," he said. "Kids at those ages have self-esteem issues and we have to make sure kids feel safe and secure."
A parent asked Timothy during a question and answer session why the focus seemed to be on three district schools failing to make No Child Left Behind’s Annual Yearly Progress due to the performance of a small number of kids’ results, and not on how the kids will be helped.
Timothy said that district principals are identifying kids by name, how they failed on tests and what can be done to help them. He said that identifying kids who have academic problems and where those problems lie is an aspect of NCLB that has been successful.
However, he said, on the other side are the gifted and talented. "Are we doing enough to challenge them? We have to provide opportunities to challenge them at the lower grade levels," he said.
PTSO member Carol Martz, a new resident of Park City and a parent of a Treasure Mountain student, said of Timothy’s presentation, "He seems to be pretty focused on what he wants to do."
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Welcome to The Park Record’s 2020 edition of Mile Post, our annual report on key indicators in our changing community.