Guest editorial: Park City superintendent says unsung heroes are keeping students engaged |

Guest editorial: Park City superintendent says unsung heroes are keeping students engaged

Jill Gildea
Park City School District superintendent


Over the past couple of weeks as our community and schools have grappled with the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen countless school employees put aside their own concerns and focus on the needs of students and families first. They are among the many true heroes of these times, and we owe them our utmost respect and gratitude.

Food service workers, custodians, technology staff, teachers, coaches, social workers, education support personnel, preschool educators, maintenance staff, administrators and a host of other employees have come together as a community to join and support parents in ensuring that students remain safe and continue to thrive in these challenging times.

I recently saw our community at its best at Ecker Hill Middle School and Treasure Mountain Junior High food distribution sites. I saw smiling students who were able to exchange hand waves and smiles with their friends, and an “air-hug” and a meal from their cafeteria staff, custodians, teachers and principals.

I saw caring and grateful parents who were thankful for a few minutes outside, and appreciative that they have a place to go to connect with other compassionate people in this time of uncertainty. I witnessed joy on the faces of the school staff who were buoyed by a sense of purpose and the knowledge that they continue to make a difference in the lives of their students.

Educators, with little notice, used their own ingenuity to redesign what teaching and learning look like in this new environment, literally over a matter of days! Teachers and teams of curriculum staff are working tirelessly right now to implement a rollout of distance learning for students and parents. And educators are working to maintain connections to their learners.

Our district will work to every extent possible to provide students with special needs supports, albeit through non-traditional technologies and approaches.

Our expectation is that students will continue to stay connected to their classroom and their teachers through the use of technology and online learning. This transition is not only important for education continuity, but also for the social and emotional support and connectedness it provides.

Our school district is working with a sense of urgency to bring educational normalcy back to students and families.

The form of education may change radically over the next several weeks or months; however, the need to provide an excellent education experience for our children remains constant.

Everyone in Summit County should feel proud of the prioritization of essential services to our children during this pandemic. This will truly define us as a community. Kudos to our firefighters, law enforcement, health care professionals, grocery workers, gas station attendants, truckers and so many others that continue to make it possible for us to operate remotely.

My greatest hope is that our community rallies behind our commitment and shared efforts to make sure our students continue to feel safe, learn and thrive. We do not know when school will return to on-site learning and we are planning for every eventuality.

In the meantime, all of us can take this opportunity to reflect, to come together and help our community rise above the fear. Education has always been a path out of troubled times, and I hail the unsung heroes — the education community, parents and students, who are united in our commitment to children.

Crystal balls are in short supply, yet resourcefulness, grit and courage and love are not. I know that because I have seen those qualities firsthand over the past several weeks, and I know in my heart that they will continue to guide us in the months ahead.

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