BACK TO SCHOOL: Meet the new superintendent of Merrill Area Public Schools

Shannon Murray has been the high school principal in Merrill the last 16 years
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 8:30 AM CDT
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - A new superintendent will be welcoming students and staff at Merrill Area Public Schools this year. The School Board announced that Shannon Murray was selected as the new leader for the school district back in May.

Murray has been taking over the new position since July 1. He took over for the former superintendent, John Sample, after he announced his retirement earlier this year. Murray said so far the transition has been smooth, with the help of his background of 16 years as the high school’s principal.

“It’s been good, it’s been a good change for me,” he explained. “One nice thing about it [is that] it’s been a long time since I’ve like, pulled into the parking lot and was nervous about the first day of work.”

So far, he said he believes the transition has been a positive change for the district, with the way it plans to approach the new school year.

“I think Merrill is a great town. I think Merrill is a great community, it has great schools, and I’m really looking forward to just having people recognize that again, and get that pride back and get that sense of community back in our school district,” Murray said.

He said recent years have brought many challenges.

“One of the things that we really wanted to do is really focus on the simple things and the things that mattered the most. And sometimes in education, you get kind of bogged down, and we’ve had tough years. You know, we’ve had a tough couple of years, everywhere, for that matter. You know, you talk about COVID and politics and staff shortages, and so it’s been challenging.”

Murray explained that the message this year is focusing on education, beginning in the classroom.

“This year is let’s just really focus on doing what matters. And that happens in the classroom. And so our mission this year is to really get good at instruction, really get good at teaching and learning and, and have a pretty laser focus on those kinds of things. Because that’s where the rubber hits the road. And... That’s where it’s most meaningful,” he said.

He believes his experience as the principal will help pave the pathway to the mission of restoring education.

“Their educational world certainly has been rocked the last couple of years. And so we want to just make sure that we all get together and get this thing going in the right direction, like many school districts, to make sure that kids just have the best experience that they possibly can and, and kind of get that youth experience that they’ve been missing.”

Overall, Murray said he’s hoping the positive momentum from the summer can continue throughout the new school year.

The first day back to school for the district is Sept. 1.