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Murray Journal

Murray School District Names Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year

Aug 03, 2016 08:56AM ● By Julie Slama

Murray School District’s Teacher of the Year Lindsey Armstrong teaches sixth grade and Title I coordinator at Horizon Elementary. She was honored May 13 at the Murray Board of Education meeting. — D Wright

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Murray, Utah - The first year Horizon sixth-grade teacher and Title I coordinator Lindsey Armstrong taught, her mother was by her side as they were preparing her room for students.

 “She told me to ‘stay positive’ and it was just wild; I remember not knowing what to expect, so I followed her advice,” she said.

 Since then, her mother — a former teacher living in California, has helped when she’s been in town, but knows her daughter is capable.

 That is evident as Armstrong was recognized as Murray School District’s Teacher of the Year on May 13. The Classified Employee of the Year is Randi Leffel.

 “Both of my parents came in from Irvine (California) when I was recognized and it was really special for my mom,” Armstrong said.

 Armstrong’s first stint with teaching came as a long-term kindergarten substitute, followed by several months teaching English in a dual immersion program. She also had experience teaching seventh-grade health at Hillcrest before settling into Horizon. She has been working with the District full-time since 2011.

 “It was nice to have the experience with different ages and curriculum and to have a structure that was set when I was new, so all I had to do was add creativity,” Armstrong said.

 However, the award wasn’t expected.

 “I was completely blown away. I remember thinking, ‘am I in trouble? What did I do?’” she said when she was surprised in learning she was selected as the outstanding teacher.

 Horizon Principal Heather Nicholas said Armstrong is well respected.

 “Parents appreciate the way she cares about their student and shows parents that respect as well,” she said. “She believes we are a community and all are responsible for every student in the building (not just in her class).” 

 At the Murray Board of Education meeting, both Armstrong and Leffel received a $500 check as well as a clock.

 Leffel came to Murray School District in 1996 as an accounting technician. She has continued with that assignment, adding many additional areas of expertise to her workload, including that of district benefits expert, answering questions and clarifying benefit information for employees. 

 “Randi is a very caring person and handles sensitive issues with complete respect and concern for the employee,” Business Administrator Richard Reese said. “She is trusted and respected by all in the district.”

 Part of Leffel’s duties include overseeing the paychecks so when Superintendent Steve Hirase came to ask her to do a check, she wasn’t surprised. However, as he stood there instead of leaving, she thought she should make sure the information was accurate.

 “I looked and it was a check request for me saying Classified Employee of the Year,” Leffel said. “I said, ‘oh my gosh’ and was so surprised. Later at the board meeting, when I was handed the check, I said, ‘you know, I made that check.’ I like my job and I get to know so many great employees and teachers. I feel like so many people are worthy of this award and I was just lucky to be chosen.”

 Other teacher of the year nominees include Riverview Junior High math teacher Randy Bodily; Parkside special education teacher Cami Butler; Hillcrest Junior High special education teacher Megan Denney; Longview kindergarten teacher Rebecca Kubinak; Grant first-grade teacher Lesa Lafferty; McMillan first- and second-grade gifted and talented teacher Shauna Maughan; Murray High athletic coordinator and physical education teacher Wade Meier; Viewmont fifth-grade teacher Leigh Nelsen; and Liberty third-grade teacher Colette Parry.

Other classified employee of the year nominees include District carpenter

Jim Derbis; McMillian special education teaching assistant Sherrie Elder; Riverview Junior High head custodian Kraig Fisher; Longview special education and reading teaching assistant Angie Hall; Liberty custodian Marcia Meher; District contract bus driver and driver trainer Loren Oyler; District building and grounds coordinator Rod Pace; Viewmont reading teaching assistant Debbie Parker; Murray High contract custodian Jamie Pehrson; Horizon administrative secretary Caryn Waterman and Liberty Title I teaching assistant Marsha Wilson.