MCSD Whiteboard: Longtime local educator and administrator takes reins as principal of Sunset Elementary
Sunset Elementary has a new principal.
Andi Murphy returned to Moffat County School district after a year as principal at Meeker Elementary to take over the role as principal at Sunset Elementary, as Jill Hafey left the position to become our superintendent.
MCSD Whiteboard sat down with Mrs. Murphy to talk about her background, excitement about this new opportunity, and her passion for education and this community.
MCSD Whiteboard: What was your journey to bring you to this point?
Andi Murphy: I knew I’d be an educator since I was five. I started at East Elementary as a kindergarten teacher in our half-day kindergarten program. During this time my colleagues and I advocated for full-day kindergarten.
In my first year of teaching, demographics changed, and our (ELL) student population grew. I began to wonder, how do we support our ELL students and their families? This thinking inspired me to become our district’s K-12 ELL Coordinator. Through the opportunities in this role, I was able to see the journey of these learners from start to finish. I love the whole component — getting to work with kids, families, and their teachers, and This fueled my desire to become a principal.
Whiteboard: Tell us about your family.
AM: My husband works as a coal miner at Twentymile, and so we truly understand the impact that has had on our community, as well as the changes about to happen.
My oldest son is 21, in the Air Force and is currently deployed in Kuwait. Our second-oldest is a senior at the high school. Our daughter will be entering the fourth grade, and our little man starts kindergarten this year.
All our kids are into sports, which drives my husband and I in different directions trying to watch all we can before they are grown. We’re a family that loves to be outdoors, loves hiking, fishing and being together.
Whiteboard: What are your thoughts and feelings about stepping into this position at Sunset?
AM: I do have big shoes to fill. I’m lucky to have had Mrs. Hafey as a mentor since my kindergarten teaching days. She really had planted the seed of going for the master’s administration degree.
I want to do the same things she did for me: help people find their strengths and grow them. I’m totally inspired by that, helping others find what makes them special and how they can then use that to support others.
As for Sunset, there is nothing I want to change. I love that they make people feel welcome, they know how to celebrate, they give a sense of belonging and family. I want to continue this both in Sunset and with our community. I want to join our other wonderful schools to share this love and joy and together spread into our community.
That’s a big goal, to bring that about in our community; I think our community needs a little love and joy to get us through our days.
Whiteboard: What excites you most about the teachers you’re working with now?
AM: They are truly the best of the best to work with. Every decision they make here, students are at the heart of it. You can’t go wrong with any type of initiative or decision if you have students at the heart of the decision. That’s what I love about Sunset!
They work hard; many of them have been with me until the midnight hour as well as the early, early mornings before I even get there. They are hard workers. Their dedication, their love of students and putting them first, and their desire to spread love and joy in the community alongside me are just a few of the reasons that make Sunset a special place.
Whiteboard: Does anything scare you about this new role?
AM: Keeping that momentum going, holding onto a culture that has really been grown and maintained up to this point. They haven’t just done it right for each other, but our families feel welcome here. I think they definitely have made a name for themselves.
Getting to watch my staff interact in various activities both at Sunset and in the community has filled my bucket. This year’s theme is around Top Gun working to achieve being a Top School this year. They are on Flight 143 (which stands for I [1 letter] Love [four letters] You [three letters]) all year long, and on Flight 143, the mission will be to spread joy. One of the activities to kick this theme off was to go out in our community this past Wednesday. Each group of five staff members got $31 to go into the community and multiply it, to take that $31 and see if they could make an impact.
Some went to parks, blew bubbles with kids, or handed out popsicles. Some went to Sandrock, to quickly connect and say hi, while others made care packages for our advocates and our first responders, with teddy bears, and coloring books to give out in times of crisis. They hit construction sites like crazy and gave the workers water as they worked to finish our highways in the heat of the day.
Those things make me excited — watching the staff carry what we do naturally in Sunset out to our community. When people feel good, then learning can happen, people get involved, and trust remains strong.
I feel very passionate about the belief that every child needs to feel loved. Only when our children feel loved and wanted can learning begin to take place.
Whiteboard: Finish this sentence. This year at Sunset Elementary will be a success if … ?
AM: If people walk away feeling loved.
The MCSD Whiteboard column is produced by the Moffat County School District for the Craig Press.
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