Murphy finalist for state superintendent

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018

Greenville native Dr. Kathy L. Murphy is poised for her interview with the Alabama Department of Education’s school board later this week as she seeks appointment as the state’s top educator.

Murphy, a 1977 graduate of Greenville High School and current Hoover City Schools superintendent, will report to Montgomery at 10 a.m. Friday as the board interviews her and three other finalists for the state superintendent position.

“I am exceptionally excited,” Murphy said from her office Tuesday morning. “The opportunity to sit at the table with the state board of education will be a privilege, and to be able to talk to them about what I’m passionate about is going to be fun. I love education —  I love what I do —  I can’t wait to get up everyday to get to work to effect the lives of children and to be able to do that, not just in a school district as terrific as Hoover is, but to be able to do that on a large stage impacting even more children in a positive way is something that is a conviction for me.”

Prior to taking on the role as Hoover’s superintendent in 2015, Murphy served as superintendent of the Monroe County School District for four years. Following an extensive teaching career, which included roles as physical education teacher and assistant professor roles at Judson College in Marion and the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, the veteran educator took her first administrative role as principal of Greenville Middle School in 1993. In 2002, she was promoted to principal at Greenville High School where she remained until 2008 when she was named administrative assistant to the Butler County Schools’ superintendent. Prior to serving as Monroe County’s superintendent, she served as principal at Charles Henderson High School.

Although she would be grateful for the opportunity to serve at the state level, Murphy made it clear that she is pleased with her position in Hoover.

“As I’ve often said as I’ve talked about this, there are a lot of people who are out there running their mouths and what we need is more people raising their hands,” Murphy said. “So, I could talk about all of the things that’s not good, that I disagree with and needs more time and attention, and more resources or I can raise my hand and say, ‘Hey, I’ve done this 34 years, I’ve had some insight and I’m a willing servant.’ That’s really all I’ve done — I’ve just raised my hand to say, ‘Hey, I understand the work, I have some ideas, I’m a committed soul, a willing spirit and if you pick me, I’m all in. If you don’t, I’m sitting in the most terrific school district in the state, Hoover, serving kids — 14,000 of them everyday — and will be as honored to come back to serve these students in Hoover.’”

The other three finalists are:

• Eric Mackey, executive director for the School Superintendents of Alabama and previously superintendent for Jacksonville City Schools.

• Craig Pouncey, superintendent for Jefferson County Schools and formerly chief of staff, deputy state superintendent, assistant state superintendent and director of finance for the Alabama Department of Education.

• Robert Scott, former education commissioner for Texas now working with the Texas Star Alliance, a private public affairs lobbying firm.

Last Friday, state school board members spent the morning reviewing resumes and other information of seven semifinalists, provided by the Ray and Associates search firm, and then rated each of the semifinalists with scores. The search firm tabulated the results and announced the candidates with the top scores.

Pouncey, a native of Luverne, received the highest rating of the seven semifinalists, followed by Mackey and Murphy — the only three in-state candidates. Gary Ray, president of the Ray and Associates search firm, recommended the board also invite the fourth highest scorer — Scott from Texas.

Murphy recognizes the great task ahead for the next state superintendent, but welcomes it.

“To those to whom much has been given, much is expected,” she said. “I believe much has been given to me in terms of opportunities and experiences. I’ve been in two county school districts — Butler County and Monroe County — I’ve been in two city school districts here in Alabama —  Troy City and now in Hoover City — I’ve worked with children who were in poverty and struggling or reluctant to learn; I’ve worked with gifted, international baccalaureate students and I’ve seen education from some of the most challenging to some of the most unbelievable opportunities that are offered to children.”

Murphy believes those opportunities qualify her as the right person for the job.

“From the opportunities that I’ve had to see and serve and from the experiences that I’ve been able to have, I would say that I’m either crazy or courageous,” she concluded. “I’d like to think there’s more courage here than craziness and I have no lack of confidence in my ability to take on this large task and to serve this state well as its next superintendent. There are other awesome people in the cadre and I respect them as professionals and as educators and, again, just feel blessed to be in the group with those fine educators and to have a seat at the table on Friday.”