Many of Park City’s full time residents are thinking about education now that school has been is session for about a month. Last month, I wrote about the 4 school districts in the Park City area.
What do schools have to do with real estate? Park City’s excellent schools are a draw for families considering relocation to. They are a reason why executives working for Wasatch Front based companies commute down the canyon.
Today, I’d like to share a conversation that has started between the Park City School District, Park City Education Foundation, Park City Day School, and Weilenmann School of Discovery. That conversation revolves around the way we are educating and assessing students in Park City’s public and private schools.
This Thursday, September 29th, the Park City Film Series will screen the documentary “Beyond Measure”, a film by Vicki Abeles, based upon the book she wrote with the same name. The film asks us to consider what would happen if we imagined a more creative approach to public education, one that is student-centered and project-based.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring James Harvey, Executive Director for the National Superintendents Roundtable. James will moderate the discussion and share some innovative programs that are making a difference nationally.
Abby McNulty, Executive Director of the Park City Education Foundation, told me that the purpose of the screening is to promote a conversation about education and bring our community together through a partnership between all the schools in Park City.
I also spoke with Park City School District Superintendent, Dr. Ember Conley about the screening. She shared that this film provides “a map” for where we want to go in terms of the way students are taught and measured.
The film suggests that schools place a greater emphasis on critical thinking, communication, exploration, experimentation, collaboration, and creativity as the key to good education and less emphasis on standardized testing. Placing a greater emphasis on skills vs. memory recall creates better outcomes for students of all backgrounds and abilities.
The Park City School District has the PCCAPS Program, a project based learning program, for 11th and 12th graders. How does our community of schools bring project based learning to middle schoolers? This is an especially timely question since the PCSD is contemplating the construction of a new middle school.
“We have an educational system that people are comfortable with because we all went through it. Changing the way we teach students creates uncertainty”, says McNulty. Using the film “Beyond Measure” to initiate a community dialogue of possibilities in our educational system is a great first step. McNulty shared that James Harvey would be doing professional development to select teachers from the Park City School District, Park City Day School, and Weilenmann School of Discovery.
Having community discussions which revolve around the screening of this film, along with commentary and professional development by a national expert, is a great first step to ensuring that Park City’s schools remain on the cutting edge. “Beyond Measure” offers a positive picture of what’s possible in American education when communities decide they are ready for change.
Whether or not you have children in Park City schools, I encourage you to attend the free screening of “Beyond Measure” this Thursday, 9/29 at 6:30pm at the Jim Santy auditorium.