Murphy wants to helm a progressive system

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dr. Kathy Murphy, a Greenville High alumnae and acting assistant superintendent, described herself as a competitive and disciplined leader with proven results during her interview as a finalist for the superintendency.

” We saw a lot of improvement in SAT scores, a 25 percentile increase, during my six years as principal at Greenville Middle School, ” Murphy said.

During her nine years at the helm of Greenville High School, Murphy said significant strides were also made. “I could not have accomplished any of this at either campus without excellent faculty and support support,” she added.

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During her two years serving in the Central Office, Murphy said she was proudest of heading the recent SACS accreditation process.

“I led the charge . . . but a lot of people made it happen,” Murphy said. “That was a huge collaborative opportunity that allowed us to tap into the thoughts and concerns of the entire community.”

Murphy described herself as organized, detailed and a “borderline workaholic” who would be not just visible but accessible to the community as superintendent.

“The superintendent is the liaison for the board to the community,” she said. “I would be the spokesperson, the best face of the Butler County School System out there. I’ve certainly already involved myself with various civic groups, Safe Harbor, DHR, the Greenville Police Department through our resource officers . . . We’ve had strong partnerships across the board. I can only see these relationships growing stronger.”

She said she envisions the relationship between herself and the board a positive one of mutual respect.

“I believe I am a good communicator and I will do that, however works best for you,” she told the board.

“I would fully expect there to be times when we disagree . . . I will try to convince you mine was a good decision, but at the end of the day, it is the board’s decision.”

She sees her management style as a more collaborative and democratic one.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be times a decision has to be made, and doesn’t need to be brought before a committee, so I will make it,” Murphy said.

She said she prefers to see “management” used in terms of dealing with programs and policies, not personnel. “I would be a leader of people – proactive and participatory. And I would have an open door policy to the community,” Murphy said.

Concerning the media, Murphy said she felt she already had a good working relationship with local news outlets. “We must not misrepresent things to the media and we can’t answer all their questions, and I think they will respect that,” she said.

In terms of budgets and finance, the candidate said her experience as a principal along with her Central Office experience had given her plenty of opportunities to view budgets and determine priorities.

“It’s vitally important, especially in times of proration, to look at what positions and programs best support the teaching and learning process,” Murphy said.

“We want to keep people in place as best we can. We will lose teachers to proration; let’s not be deceived. We also need to be aware funds are earmarked . . . at the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for the children and the district.”

Murphy said getting students geared toward the high-tech age was essential.

“We already have many teachers who are using blogs to interact with students. There are many uses of technology already in our system,” Murphy said.

“Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not. We must continue to take advantage of online learning in our schools.”

In terms of parental involvement, Murphy said it “is certainly not where it needs to be in the district. That’s one of the things SACS indicated to us.”

“It’s the responsibility of the district to engage parents more, and make them feel we want them to be a part of the program,” she said.

“I look around sometimes . . . we have the signs telling people to report to the front office, no weapons allowed – but where are the welcome signs?”

Murphy pledged to work on a parental involvement plan “to welcome, engage and get more parents involved.”

She plans to stay informed on what is going on in the classroom by visiting schools and classrooms on a regular basis.

The subject of sports and other extra-curricular activities versus academics led Murphy to quip: “Never underestimate in the state of Alabama how important football is.”

” I wish we could turn out for Scholars Bowl the way we do for games but it just doesn’t work that way,” she admitted.

” I love sports. They have a way of pulling a school together, a community together like nothing else. But – a hierarchy must exist. Academics first, athletics, second. In order to play sports in college, be successful, they have to have the academic achievement,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the best pitch she could make to sell the school system to others is the example of her daughter, GHS senior Connor Murphy-White.

“I gave her to this school district to educate . . . and I believe she is ready to go forth and be productive. Produce stellar performers and provide good. progressive programs and opportunities to show we are a good place to be,” Murphy said.

“I want this system to be on the cutting edge of education and I will work diligently to get it there.”