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Murray Journal

Murray School District to honor its top educators, employee, volunteer

May 17, 2021 11:32AM ● By Julie Slama

Murray School District volunteer Jeannette Bowen was surprised to learn she was awarded the Pinnacle Award at Hillcrest Junior High by Murray Education Foundation’s AnneMarie Nielson and Jeanne Habel as well as Murray School District Superintendent Jen Covington. (Doug Perry/Murray School District)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

There’s a saying that goes something like this: “If you need something done, ask the busiest person around because she always will have time.”

That is fitting for Murray School District’s top volunteer this year. 

Jeannette Bowen, mother of seven kids ranging from kindergarten age to 21, has been Longview Elementary’s PTA thrice, now is acting Hillcrest Junior High PTA president and is in her second year as Region 19 PTA president.

“My kids joke that I’m in so many meetings, they may need to schedule an appointment to see me,” she said. “Being involved in PTA, I have met so many great people and I’ve learned so much from them. It’s really an incredible melting pot of wonderful people who have great ideas. We want to support our students, our schools and our teachers, especially this year as we are finding ways to honor them and show them our appreciation. I like volunteering at this level, being a voice for our families and giving input to the district from the PTA.” 

Bowen also serves on the Utah PTA Board of Directors and several state PTA committees, is the vice chair of Murray Education Foundation, and chairs Longview’s School Community Council. She’s been room parent “too many times to count” yet still makes herself available to help in a school at the drop of a hat.

That was just what Hillcrest Principal Jim Bouwman was hoping.

“I got an email from the principal asking if I can meet with him and the vice principal early Thursday morning in his office,” Bowen recalled. “I went in and could see it was a crazy morning. Teachers had just gotten their second dose of the COVID vaccine and some of them were calling in sick, so they were trying to get subs. I started feeling panicky for him. He said he’d be right back. Thirty seconds later, the superintendent, the Pinnacles gala committee, my husband and two kids who attend the school and others walked in. It was so fun; I was so honored and humbled—and just grateful.”

Bowen, along with five educators and a classified employee, was presented with a bouquet and an invitation to the 18th annual Pinnacle Awards celebration slated for May 6. 

This year’s educators that are being honored include Horizon first-grade teacher Michelle Christie, who has taught nine years; Viewmont fifth-grade teacher Leigh Nelsen, 24 years; Longview first-grade teacher Mike Okumura, 17 years; Hillcrest social studies teacher Stacey Parker, 15 years; and Grant first-grade teacher Jennifer Simpson, 35 years. Joining them is Parkside administrative secretary Alicia Brimley, who has worked in the district six years.

“The Pinnacle Awards are an important celebration,” Superintendent Jen Covington said. “Now more than ever, we value our personnel at Murray City School District. We are grateful to all of them, and particularly excited to honor and recognize those who have changed lives and put smiles on the faces of our students.”

The program is likely to follow the recent 2020 one that was postponed until this past March. 

At the ceremony, each Pinnacles recipient will be introduced by a Murray Education Board member, followed by a student or colleague who will share about the honoree. Award winners also will have the opportunity to make a few remarks. 

The recipients will receive a Pinnacles statuette, $500 and a gift basket with items and gifts donated from local businesses and sponsors.