TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – After six years as principal of Oregon Trail Elementary School, Shari Cowger is moving on. The good news is she’s not going far.

Come this fall, she’ll lead a new group of students at Rock Creek Elementary, one of two new elementary schools the Twin Falls School District will open this year. The other school, Pillar Falls Elementary, will be led by new principal Nancy Murphy. A new middle school will open within city limits in 2017.

Both women are excited about the opportunities that await them at the new schools. One of their first responsibilities is to hire their vice principals.

Shari Cowger

“First of all, I want to say that I have absolutely enjoyed my time at Oregon Trail. I have worked here in one capacity or another since 1997,” Cowger said. “I know all of the families and kids. But it’s also exciting and fun to be able to open a new building and create a culture of education.”

After hiring a vice principal, she’ll look at recruiting staff and working on a myriad other things that need to be done before the school opens its doors in August. Cowger said her new school will start with between 500-525 students.

“The dilemma we’re faced with right now – growth – is not going to stop anytime soon,” she said. “It’s an exciting time to be in the district, to see how things grow and change and shift. I don’t think there’s a teacher in the district who is not excited.”

Nancy Murphy

Murphy, who currently is vice principal of Perrine and Sawtooth elementary schools, said her new school, Pillar Falls, will open with 550 students. Like Cowger, she’ll be hiring a vice principal within the next several weeks. As for teachers, some will be moving from their current school to one of the new schools. The district plans to hire roughly 12 new teachers.

The new schools, including South Hills Middle School that will open in fall 2017, were funded by the $73.8 million bond levy approved by voters in March 2014.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the district and community for many reasons,” Murphy said. “Getting a new school is a big deal.”

Her goal at Pillar Falls is to create a community that makes everyone, students and teachers alike, feel successful in their academic approaches. Both new principals also want to make sure parents are involved as much as possible and are looking at planning outreach events this summer.

For now, both are pulling double-duty between their current jobs and planning for the new schools. They are excited about selecting their vice principals to help with the load.

“Sleep is overrated anyway,” Murphy joked. “Who needs a summer, right? I won’t be bored. But really, I feel very fortunate for this opportunity. I am up for the challenge and am ready to get the ball rolling.”