The first day for Park City School District was super |

The first day for Park City School District was super

Alexandria Gonzalez, The Park Record
Park City School District Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley (left) stands with Park City High School (PCHS) Principal Bob O Connor at the high school on its first day back with students.

Park City School District Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley may be new to Park City, but she has high expectations for the district.

After serving as Interim Superintendent in Arizona during what she called a "tumultuous time," Conley is now in Park City ready to take the district to new heights.

"I want our district to be one of the top 10 in the nation," said Conley. "There is always some sort of metric involved in the ranking of the school districts, but Park City has every component to be the best."

At the PCSD Board of Education meeting on Aug. 20, Conley discussed her plans for the district in detail.

Prior to this year, PCSD schools monitored student performance, but this year, the model will measure both student performance and growth, she said. The plan is to focus on "research-based curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development."

Conley said she plans to closely monitor enrollment figures and said that the opening day of school showed growth in some schools and dips in others. But those figures, which affect class size and the budget, won’t settle in for a few weeks.

"We have hot spots in different grade levels," said Conley, "but we won’t really know for sure until after Labor Day and have an official count by Oct. 1."

While Conley has big plans for the district in terms of educational assessment, she insists that the most important part of her job is helping parents in the district to advocate for their children.

"Whatever issue there is, it is because they love their kids," said Conley. "Because I am a parent myself, I have that understanding."

Her daughter is currently a sophomore at PCHS, and her four-year-old son attends Park City Daycare at the high school. Her daughter’s affinity for the high school and her son’s asthma – the fresh air helps him breathe much better – were two deciding factors for her when it came to moving to Park City for work.

This maternal instinct is one reason for Conley’s emphasis on communication with the parents in the district, but her time spent as an educator certainly factors in. While Conley enjoyed being in the classroom, she searched for other avenues to help create positive change for her students.

Her first experience in a district office as an administrator left her missing her students, and she happily returned to the classroom. It wasn’t until she was named Interim Superintendent that she realized that although it created a different relationship with her students, she could impact students’ lives at a greater level, she said.

A self-proclaimed "natural leader," Conley holds her mentors responsible for her professional achievements, and one mentor in particular is the reason she found out about the search for a new superintendent in Park City.

"She told me to look into it, and it was a very intense hiring process," said Conley. "I just always put a lot of pressure on myself and want to be highly prepared."

Conley also relies on in tight communication in order to build cooperation regarding politics. Being able to work together for the students is the key, she said.

"My role is to bridge the educational district into the community, and the representatives of the community are the governing board," said Conley. "I believe in establishing a tight relationship between the two."

After a busy first day, Conley leaned back and glanced at a form handed to her by the business administrator. She breathed a sigh of relief and smiled as she set it down.

"It’s been a long day, but I’m home and not leaving anytime soon," said Conley. "I plan on being here for a long, long time."


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