• Building Base Camp to Reach the Summit

    Posted by Dr. Amy Hunt on 11/23/2021 8:00:00 AM

     Building Base Camp to Reach the Summit: A look at the next five years in PCSD by Dr. Amy Hunt, Chief Academic Officer Nationwide, we are at a crossroads in education - Do we continue to invest in what we know has helped us educate students for decades or do we explore and prototype innovations in teaching and learning? The answer is YES! The idea of optimizing learning for students cannot be treated as a problem to solve with “either/or” solutions. Instead, we must consider the future of education from a systems perspective that begins with understanding our purpose and focuses on utilizing evidence-based strategies to frame our work. So, what is PCSD’s purpose? What are the strategies that frame our work? 

    The Park City School District Governing Board has a vision for students that is rooted in a whole child philosophy. This vision is to equitably inspire and support all students to reach their academic and social-emotional potential. This is a BIG idea and may seem like climbing Mount Everest, however, the view from the summit is worth it. We want every student to forge their personal pathway to the summit and be able to look out and be prepared for every possibility available to them after graduation from Park City High School. 

    We have collaboratively identified five strategic objectives that are further defined as the PCSD Teaching and Learning Strategies to Reach our Summit. . During the next five years, our focus will be on five strategic pillars: Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, Human-Centered Learning (whole-child), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, Professional Growth, and the Future of Park City Schools. 

    During 2021-2022, the PCSD Instructional Framework will be implemented. The instructional framework, developed over the past two school years, is a blueprint for educators to be able to consistently plan student learning using evidence-based practices that ensure equity and student achievement. The instructional framework establishes: 

    • District-wide expectations for teaching and learning, 
    • Ensures equity in learning opportunities among our schools, and 
    • Provides shared meaning and common language. 

     The instructional framework guides all educators toward academic excellence in teaching and supports their continued growth in the profession. As we implement the instructional framework we will begin to more intentionally design learning for individual students. 

    Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned that it is possible to create a continuum of services that goes beyond a one size fits all model where students experience whole class learning of the same content at the same time. Even before COVID, our students were self-designing their learning experiences by determining when to attend class and when to utilize CANVAS to complete learning assignments. There is a great opportunity in Utah to rethink how student schedules are structured and what learning options can be offered because education legislation here permits student competency to be a driver of the same. This means that we can begin to ask questions such as - Does this student need to complete this course over a semester or can they demonstrate their current competency and participate in other learning options. 

    Academically and social-emotionally preparing our students to move along on their individual pathway to the summit of possibility begins with a strategic plan. PCSD’s plan includes both a continuation of strong academic learning and prototyping a continuum of services to ensure the best preparation for all students. Students’ pathways to the summit must include academic mastery that includes meaningful application or real-world experiences, autonomy made possible by demonstration of competencies, and purpose-driven by individual interests and strengths. As we build our base camp, we remember our why and know that we are laying the foundation to be able to have every PCSD student Reach the Summit.

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