Superintendent Murphy celebrates final day on the job
By KYRA LOW
Federal Way Mirror Reporter
June 29, 2010 · Updated 10:24 AM
For years, Tom Murphy has been at the helm of the Federal Way school district. That is no longer the case. June 30 marks his last day as superintendent.
Murphy, after more than a decade at the top position in the school district, announced his retirement Oct. 13. Murphy said on that day that after 42 years in the education field, he felt this was the best time to step down.
“During my 22 years in Federal Way, I have enjoyed the support of some wonderful members of our school board, people whose only agenda was improving the lives of all of our children,” said Murphy, 64. “I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished together.”
Murphy began his career teaching English in Illinois. He moved on to being a high school principal for several years before coming to Federal Way in 1988 to take over as assistant superintendent.
He held that position until 1999, when he was then named superintendent.
Since his retirement announcement, staff from all over the district have come forward at each of the school board meetings to thank Murphy for his years of service and his message that “All Means All.”
For Murphy, that has been the highlight of his career.
“I think that I’ve helped us believe that we can really impact all kids,” Murphy said last fall. “I’ve been really proud of the conversations that our leaders have had, the administrators have had, our teacher leaders have had, and how that’s developed over time. I think that the system now really believes that we can and we must reach all kids. That’s what I’m probably most proud of.”
District principals and staff have also taken turns at each board meeting sharing memories and thoughts about Murphy.
“I was immediately struck by your determined focus on students, children and our families,” Olympic View Elementary Principal Cindy Dracobly said. “Your leadership has stayed the course, and that course has been the children. Thank you, Tom, for all the miracles you have created for us and our children.”
Sacajawea Middle School Principal David Brown said he has made his vision of “All Means All” the entire district’s vision.
“Tom’s life work has been improving the lives of children,” Adelaide Elementary Principal Jason Smith said. “As a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent, he’s held constant in his love of all students and their academic success.”
District staff and school board members have taken to wearing lime green shirts with Murphy’s likeness on the front and the letters “WWTD?” on the back. The acronym that stands for, “What Would Tom Do?”
School board member Ed Barney wore one of the shirts to the school board meeting on June 22, Murphy’s last.
“You have been a leader and a mentor to me even before I joined this board,” Barney told him.
Murphy and his wife, Rosemary, have been married for more than 38 years and have four adult children and four grandchildren. Murphy’s immediate future plans include spending time with his family.Contact Federal Way Mirror Reporter Kyra Low at email@example.com or (253) 925-5565.