New Year, New Principal, New Teachers – All Good

Open House kicks off changes at JRE


Isaac Axlund and Zach Ludtke proudly show off the harvest from the school garden. The fourth-grade boys planted the crops at the end of the school year and now get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Isaac Axlund and Zach Ludtke proudly show off the harvest from the school garden. The fourth-grade boys planted the crops at the end of the school year and now get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Photo by Michele Nelson. |

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Will Dunman, new principal of Julia Randall Elementary (JRE) wandered the halls during Wednesday’s Open House, calling out greetings to parents and students.

Doors to the school had opened at 4:30, but some parents were quite eager.

“Some came early,” said Dunman of the enthusiastic parents.

Former Payson Elementary School principal turned fifth-grade teacher Donna Haught said her students’ families came early because they had gymnastic lessons or dance class.

Haught’s room overlooks Green Valley Park, while her first cousin Bruce’s room is across the hall.

Bruce taught sixth-grade math at Rim Country Middle School last year. He says he has worked at every school site during his Payson Unified School District career.

Like the new principal, the fifth-grade teachers have lots of new faces, the Haughts representing two.

Down the hallway, Alan Ammann is one of the few fifth-grade teachers that has a few years at JRE under his belt.

His room has posters of planets, a skeleton and a model of teeth — it almost looks as if Ammann is a mad scientist.

“I graduated with a degree in biology,” he said.

By 5:30, the fifth-grade hallway echoed with silence, but down on the fourth-grade level, students buzzed in and out of Melissa Daniels’ room.

No wonder, the scent of warm cinnamon wafted out the door, while a plate full of colorful vegetables from the school garden enticed visitors.

Isaac Axlund and Zach Ludtke proudly showed off the fruits of their labor. The boys had helped to plant the garden in the spring, now they looked forward to trying out the harvest.

“I like salads, but my favorite is watermelon,” said Isaac.

“I like cucumbers with ranch in a salad,” said Zach.

Nearby the boys’ parents spoke with Daniels.

“We expect them to read every night,” she said.

For JRE students and teachers, it’s all about reading, reading, reading.

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