Skip to main content

Murray Journal

New Murray Faculty, Staff Ready For School Year As Others Retire

Aug 25, 2016 02:57PM ● By Julie Slama

New Liberty Elementary Principal Jill Burnside boosts school spirit by becoming an ice cream sundae. — Julie Slama

As Liberty Elementary students walk into their school building this fall, they will see the familiar face of Jill Burnside, who has been their interim principal. She now is their permanent principal.


“I’m excited,” she said. “My goals are to increase the students’ reading and writing scores and build good relationships that welcome our community. We’ll continue our movie nights, carnival, fun run, all those activities that build our school spirit.”


Burnside isn’t the only “new” face in Murray schools. As of early August, there were 41 new people with licenses hired with four more positions needing to be filled, according to Murray School District spokeswoman D Wright.


Before Burnside became interim principal, she served as Liberty’s literacy specialist and in the Murray School District office. She began her teaching career in Murray at Longview Elementary as a second-grade teacher, then worked at the school as a literacy specialist.


Liberty faculty were happy with the decision to make Burnside permanent.


“Our environment has been more relaxed and comfortable with her, faculty are laughing and are more motivated to do more to make sure students are where they need to be at the year-end assessments,” teacher Mike Ochumura said.


Teacher Toni Wilkins agrees.


“She’s so good being involved with the kids with afterschool activities, being on the playground with them, helping in and out of the classrooms and even running with them in the fun run,” she said. “She’s a champion for teachers. She knows what they’re going through, has cheered us on and has gotten us more planning time and help, even with making copies.”


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 ESL as well as Level I and Level II endorsements.


When she took her interim post at Liberty, Burnside said the teachers and staff were united in their mission to help students.


“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,” she said.


This fall, she will be short one veteran — sixth-grade teacher Judy Mahoskey — who retired after 33 years teaching.


“I’ll miss the community,” Mahoskey said before her summer retirement. “I don’t have a connection with my neighborhood as much as I do this one. I’m here day-to-day in this community and that defines you. Every decision I’ve made and done impacts the community. It’s been a fabulous career for me — perfect job to raise my kids, be informed and involved in the community and help so many students learn and succeed.”


At her retirement, Troy Wanlass came to see her off.


“My sister had her in 1988 and I had her during my math rotation,” he said. “She always made me feel successful. She kept teaching me algebra until I understood it.”


Former student Jacob Bracker said he remembers students writing about “if I could make the world a better place” and then, Mahoskey would bind the books.


“She was an amazing teacher who really inspired me,” he said. “She made everything fun. We learned bike safety. Then on one of the last days in sixth grade, all the sixth-graders would ride to a park to eat lunch together. On my last day at Liberty, she gave me an old Polaroid photo. I still have it.”


Sixth-grader Madison Lundquist said that in social studies, Mahoskey said they should try to understand the culture by putting themselves in it.


“During Crystal Night (Kristallnacht) when the Jews’ homes and stores were broken into, if we tried to envision being there, we could better understand why they were upset with how they were being treated and their possessions being stolen,” Madison said. “When we did reports on Greeks and Romans, she encouraged us to dress up and make replica artifacts so we could better understand the times. When we held our economics fair, we learned about supply and demand, monopolies and marketing just by trying to sell our own products. We really understood what she was teaching us by doing it, not reading it.”


Principal Burnside said that the school will lose “its heart and soul” they’ve had with Mahoskey for more than 30 years.


“She really is the most amazing teacher ever. Her passion is kids, she is an advocate and champion for kids and puts their interest above everything else,” she said.


Liberty former principal and current director of student services, Darren Dean, agrees.


“Judy is someone who truly cares about others and is here everyday, helping everyone succeed, especially the underdog,” he said. “Her influence will continue on, showing how she has cared about each student and our community.”


Mahoskey is just one of several retiring staff and faculty from Murray School District. Others include Greg Bemis, Hillcrest Junior High science teacher, 29 years; Janet Buonocore, maintenance and transportation, 17 years; Shirleen Burkinshaw, Riverview Junior High counseling secretary, 25 years; Connie Buckner, district office administrator and former principal, 16 years with Murray District; Karen Craig, Riverview Junior High math teacher, 29 years; Lorraine Fedderson, Viewmont third-grade teacher, 30 years; Larae Kajma, Hillcrest Junior High head custodian, 31 years; Carey Lippincott, Hillcrest Junior High social studies teacher, 15 years; Robert Mayo, Murray High math teacher, 15 years in Murray District; Wade Meier, Murray High physical education teacher, 38 years; Michelle Miller, Viewmont second-grade grade, 30 years; Elizabeth Naccarato, Horizon sixth-grade dual immersion teacher, four years with Murray District; Deborah Trotter, Hillcrest Junior High English/French teacher, 34 years; Anne Smith, Longview school counselor, 19 years; and Julian Warton, Hillcrest Junior High school counselor, 35 years with Murray District.