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Murray Journal

Liberty Former Staff Member Returns as Interim Principal

Nov 06, 2015 09:45AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

Just weeks after the new school year began, Liberty principal Natalie Stouffer gave her two-week resignation, citing “personal reasons.” After serving just a few months more than a year, Stouffer said good-bye to school children on her last day, Sept. 18

Stouffer’s vacancy was filled days later on Sept. 21 after Murray School District superintendent Steve Hirase appointed former Liberty literacy specialist Jill Burnside to the interim principal position.

“There’s never any warning or good timing when people have to step down with personal issues,” he said. “We know that with Jill, she is familiar with the staff and students and programs, having been in the district office just the past year. It’s the least disruptive to the students and she’s a high-quality educator with an administrative degree who understands the district’s goals and has the ability to relate to students and the skills to coach teachers.”

The job posting for Liberty principal will most likely open to candidates in 2016, Hirase said.

“The timing is good in the sense that we’ll have the opening posted early in the year so we can get good-quality candidates,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll probably all pick up the pieces with additional hours to fill the void in the district office that Jill leaves.”

Burnside was excited to return to her former school.

“I love the kids and am excited to work with them to ensure the best possible education they can get and to help them be successful,” she said. 

She plans to continue with the school goals of having good attendance and a deeper literacy ability that involves more complex reading and writing skills. Burnside also wants to help teachers identify ways to help students who need additional help, or enrich those kids who already have gained the concepts and understanding.

The teachers also will be introducing technology programs such as iReady that accesses students’ abilities and provides individualized lessons on their level in math and reading. 

“The teachers truly care about the students at Liberty. They review their teaching instruction; they change and reflect to understand the best teaching methods for the kids. The entire Liberty community is fabulous, with the staff, support staff and teachers supporting the students and their families. It’s a great opportunity for me to reconnect with everyone,” Burnside said.

Burnside received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a deaf education minor at Utah State University, then earned her master’s degree in administrative licensure from Southern Utah University. She also has her Utah educator license with English as a second language, as well as Level I and Level II endorsements.

She began her teaching career in Murray at Longview Elementary as a second-grade teacher, then worked at the school as a literacy specialist. She moved to Liberty as the school’s literacy specialist in 2009 and remained there until last year, when she took a position as Murray School District curriculum specialist. 

She has received the Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year award, Longview Teacher of the Tear twice, and in 2013, the Pinnacle Award from the Murray Education Foundation.