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Murray Journal

New faces greeting students this fall

Sep 04, 2022 10:32AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This fall, some students may be greeted by some administrators new to their schools.

As students file in Murray High, Principal Quinn Linde may be the first face they see as he introduces himself. Linde is replacing Scott Wihongi, who is Murray District’s new assistant superintendent as former assistant superintendent Scott Bushnell retired.

“I always knew I wanted to go into education,” Linde said. “I had an awesome group of eighth-grade teachers that were just incredible and super supportive; they were pivotal for me, helping me navigate those waters. My basketball coach would support me too. They just encircled me and treated me so kindly and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I love the feel of schools and I thought it’s a great career to give back to the community.”

Linde not only was a student-athlete, but he also was involved in the performing arts—and can even be seen in “High School Musical 2” as a baseball player.

Linde has a bachelor’s in biology education from Utah Valley University and his master’s degree in administrative leadership from Western Governors University. He taught science for four years at Corner Canyon High in Draper before becoming assistant principal there for two years. The past three years, he has been at Hillcrest High in Midvale.

While Linde said he liked working in Canyons School District, he jumped at this opportunity.

“I think it's kind of been in my life model not to be comfortable in one place. You need to try and push yourself to be the best version of yourself and when the opportunity presented itself, I thought I could try and stretch myself,” he said. “I think from teaching, coaching and being an administrator at schools, I’ve learned that relationships is really at the heart of everything I’ve tried to do. Seeing the potential in every student and helping them to reach their goals and potential has been something I’ve kind of prided myself on and it is what motivates me.”

So, Linde said he plans to start from day one, being in the halls and getting to know the kids.

“I think as administrators, as staff and teachers, we need to be on the halls; we need to be seen by kids. They need to know that we're there and we’re working to build those relationships day by day. I want them to share a little bit about themselves and their lives and let kids know that they’re human and hope kids will be willing to reciprocate,” he said.

Wihongi has gotten to know students during his tenure at Murray High.

“My ultimate goal was to create a culture where kids wanted to be here to be engaged and safe,” said Wihongi, who has served as Murray’s principal since 2017. “We set up a system where teachers got to know their kids a little bit better, then we set up a positive behavior program and the year before I came in, there were probably 10 to 12 fights per year, and now, I think we may average one. We introduced the Murray Medallion program and have awarded 600 in five years, the Spartan initiative, the differentiated diploma, and we’ve revamped the credit recovery system, and during COVID, we pushed toward canvas-based lessons. Murray High now has a culture where everybody feels included. Everybody feels heard. Everybody feels that they can be successful and take advantage of the opportunities that that are provided.”

Recovering from the drop in attendance and involvement in classes during the pandemic is what’s ahead for Linde, Wihongi said.

“I think a challenge that most high schools are facing right now is getting kids back in and engage fully in their education. I think the pandemic kind of took them out of the habit so the motivation for them to engage fully in their schoolwork,” he said.

Wihongi, who comes from a family of educators and is married to one, now will rejoin Superintendent Jen Covington, who he worked under as an assistant principal when she was principal at Hillcrest Junior High, in the district office administration team.

“Jen is a mover and shaker. She gets things done. She's a supportive leader who looks for ways of making things work. She's very high energy and she's very proactive. I like that she's looking for ways to always improve and progress. She's innovative and very creative. She's done a lot of things to kind of unify and connect people,” he said.

In addition to his two years as an assistant principal at Hillcrest Junior, and three at Murray as an assistant principal, he also served three years as an assistant at Corner Canyon High School. He taught science nine of his 22 years in education at Hillcrest Junior and Murray High.

As assistant superintendent, Wihongi will oversee the District’s state assessments, the career and technical education programs at the secondary level, the dual immersion program, the media center, contribute to the teaching and learning team, support teachers and administrators, and perform other duties.

Wihongi said students still will be at the heart of his new position.

“I went into education for the kids, and I believe with my new position I can still have an impact on whatever we do, wherever we're at. The objective is to provide opportunities for our students. Hopefully, I can do that and support our administrators and our teachers,” he said.

Other administrative changes in Murray School District include Mindy Ball, who has been Grant Elementary’s principal since 2017, will become principal at Horizon Elementary as Whitney Anderson stepped down. Filling Ball’s position will be Jill Burnside, who began in 2015 as Liberty Elementary’s interim principal and was named principal in 2016.

New to Murray District is Lisa Young, who will be Liberty Elementary’s principal, and Samuel Salinas, who will become Hillcrest Junior High’s assistant principal, filling the shoes of Megan Orme, who is stepping down.

Young, who has been in education for 20 years, has been a principal at a school in Arizona and Utah and has served as an educational specialist at the Utah State Board of Education, where she was responsible to help develop and implement a cohesive system of supports and professional learning for school leaders. She has taught in schools in Nevada and Utah and has worked as an instructional coach.

She holds degrees in psychology and educational leadership and is currently working on a degree in indigenous education.

Salinas has been in education for 26 years, including 14 as an administrator. In Utah, he has taught and has been an assistant principal at two schools. He also has taught in California and has been the director of extension at a state university in Baja California, Mexico.

He has degrees in liberal arts and sciences, history and educational leadership.

In addition, Scott Taggart will take the position at the district as director of support services as Dave Roberts has taken a position in another district.

Taggert has been an administrator 14 years and in education 28 years. He has taught science and business, been a high school assistant principal, technical education center principal and an assistant director of facility services. He holds degrees in biology, business administration and educational leadership.