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Murray Journal

Murray School District announces new principals

Jul 26, 2017 03:33PM ● By Julie Slama

Former Murray High School Assistant Principal Scott Wihongi will return to the school this fall as its new principal. (Scott Wihongi)

Five Murray School District schools will have new principals this fall.

Murray High School students and faculty will see a familiar face return this fall when Scott Wihongi walks through the door as the new principal. Wihongi, a former Murray High assistant principal, replaces John Goldhardt, who left to take a director position with Salt Lake City School District. 

“I’m excited to be returning to Murray,” Wihongi said. “I’ve been in another district the past three years and it’s been a great experience, but I’m looking forward to returning to Murray High School that has a great history and tradition of providing students with opportunities to succeed.”

Recently, Wihongi has been the assistant principal at Corner Canyon High School in the Canyon School District.

Wihongi said his intent is to build upon the great traditions Murray High has and focus more effort on building a positive culture for both teachers and students. 

“Supporting teachers support their students is a main focus. Murray has a good blend of young and veteran teachers who blend new approaches and ideas with proven approaches and ideas to help students learn. Creating a school framework in which they can do this is a key to supporting that goal,” he said.

Wihongi added that positive academic and behavior expectations in addition to increased technology access is a big part of that framework.

 “I would also love to see more students involve themselves more in their high school experience,” he said.

He wants to introduce a medallion program where students can earn the medallion with increased involvement in their advanced academic courses and extracurricular activities. 

“The intent is to award participation, not necessarily achievement. Those who meet a certain criteria of involvement by their senior year will be able to wear the special medallion at graduation,” he said.

Prior to working at Corner Canyon High, he was assistant principal at Murray High for three years; assistant principal at Hillcrest Junior High for two years and taught science at Murray High for nine years. 

Dolph Church and Therese Mbaku will remain as Murray High assistant principals.

At Hillcrest Junior High, Buck Corser has been named as the principal, following five years as assistant principal of the school to Principal Jen Covington. Covington was named superintendent after the recent retirement of Steve Hirase.

Corser has been in the school district for 11 years, starting out teaching special education for six years. He is a Hillcrest Junior High School and a Murray High School alumnus.

Megan Orme has been named Hillcrest Junior High School assistant principal. She has been with the Murray District for nine years in the special education department.

At the elementary level, District Teaching Specialist Lindsey Romero will be the new Parkside principal, replacing Colleen Smith, who has accepted a principal position at Sprucewood Elementary in Canyons School District.

Romero, who is a Murray High graduate, has spent the last year working in the district’s teaching and learning department, but has taught in the district at Parkside as well as Horizon for nine years. She also has been the Title I coordinator. 

“I’m thrilled to become a principal and my goal is to build the students’ characters as well as help them progress academically,” she said. “I want them to be successful lifelong learners and apply what they’re learning to real life, such as working well with others and having good citizenship.”

Romero plans to have monthly celebrations for students who have learned and incorporated character education traits.

“We’ll honor students and teachers and bring in members of our community who are examples as guest motivational speakers,” she said.

She also wants to focus on attendance and introduce an attendance program that Horizon Elementary began last year, which showed improvement during the year.

“I want to be a hands-on principal, out and about. My goal is to be out on the playground, in the lunch room, interacting with students so they get to trust me and know I’m there for them and have their best interest in mind,” she said. 

Grant Elementary Principal Matt Nelson will move to Viewmont Elementary to replace Missy Hamilton. Hamilton will move to the district office where she will assume the duties of Romero and Teaching and Learning Director Martha Kupferschmidt, who is leaving the District. 

Nelson has been the principal at Grant for five years and taught for 10 years in Murray School District prior to that post.

Viewmont kindergarten teacher Mindy Ball has been named Grant Elementary principal. She has been working for the school district for 13 years.

At Horizon Elementary School, Whitney Anderson has been named as administrative intern, replacing Rick Kelson who has accepted another job outside of the school district. 

 New to the district is Robin Williams, who will assume the role of Director of Secondary Teaching. Before joining Murray School District, Williams served in Park City School District where she has been a principal for two years. Before Park City, Williams was Logan School District’s director of teaching and learning for seven years. She also has worked in Alaska and Colorado schools as an administrator and in the Granite School District for eight years as a teacher. 

Williams will be taking over this assignment from Assistant Superintendent Scott Bushnell, who will focus on other duties.