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BURLEY — The Cassia County School District has hired new administrators for two Burley elementary schools.

Derek Johnston was hired as the new principal at Mountain View Elementary School to replace Dustin Heath, who took a job with the Minidoka County School District.

Johnston is originally from Tacoma, Wash., but he calls Idaho home. He has a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University and has taught middle and high school for nine years. He also coached football, basketball and track.

“I look forward to ensuring student success, collaborating with families, educators and engaging with the community as a whole. I also seek to surface and alleviate the challenges faced by students at Mountain View Elementary. Through education, I believe we can give students the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives that exceed all expectations,” Johnston said.

He taught world history and geography, U.S. history and introducation to law enforcement. He is a founder of the first innovation school in Idaho and said the experience was “a life-changing opportunity.” He traveled to 12 innovation schools and visited inner cities of major metropolitan areas. He has training in Big Picture Learning, Project Based Learning, Trauma Compassionate schools and School Poverty.

He enjoys hiking, singing karaoke, reading, spending time with his family and laughing.

Johnston is a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and loves the BSU Broncos.

A pool of 19 candidates applied for the position and three were interviewed by the board.

The board also hired Ryun Payne as the vice principal at Dworshak Elementary School. He will serve a dual role as a special education teacher along with his administrative responsibilities.

Payne said special education “called my name. I started as a para pro and the hard work of that environment drew me in.”

Leaders should be “visible with the people they lead and always listening,” he said.

He also coached soccer and led afterschool programs to help students.

He has bachelor degrees from BYU-Idaho and Weber State University and a master’s degree in special education and his administrative license from Utah State University.

He spent five of his last seven years in education in leadership roles. He was a special education teacher for two years at Black Butte High School in Rock Springs, Wyoming and prior to that he was a special education teacher at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah.

He looks forward to bringing his belief in the diversity of learning to the district and to help students develop life skills.

His family hobbies include fishing, camping, hiking, hunting and local history.

Both men were hired during the school board’s April 26 meeting. Their contracts will begin on Aug. 1.


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