Dr. David W. Murphy, superintendent of schools in SAD 44, Bethel, since 2002, has been named Maine’s 2020 Superintendent of the Year – a testament to his belief that all students can be successful with the right support.
Superintendent Murphy was selected by a committee of his peers, including former Superintendent of the Year recipients, Maine School Superintendents Association (MSSA) officers and presidents of Maine’s superintendent regions.
A first-generation college graduate, he has worked to make sure all students in his district see higher education as an option.
“An important message to convey to students is to never doubt yourself or your ability to be successful. Considering all options is an important life skill for everyone to develop,” Superintendent Murphy said.
Using grant funding, and with support from the community, all middle and high school students now participate in multiple college visits during the academic year. Grants also have helped fund tuition costs for eligible Telstar seniors interested in participating in full time, on-campus dual enrollment courses at Central Maine Community College.
Support for students starts early under Superintendent Murphy’s leadership, with a universal Pre-K program and elementary class sizes that average approximately 14 students.
At a Freshman Academy housed at the University of Maine’s 4-H Learning Center, ninth-graders spend every morning at the center where outdoor and experiential opportunities skills are merged with academic instruction tied to the learning standards. Working together at the Center helps students build positive relationships with their freshman peers. They return together to the high school for the afternoon.
To address the challenges of providing a comprehensive High School academic program in a rural setting, Superintendent Murphy has turned to technology, with Telstar High School now offering a wide variety of on-line courses.
He also has focused on teacher professional development. The district has eight National Board Certified Teachers on staff and has created in-house opportunities for teacher-leaders, who now fill principal and dean positions.
“Today's schools must strive to be relevant to the needs of today's students. As a superintendent, considering and encouraging new and innovative opportunities to support students and teachers should always be a priority,” he said.
Superintendent Murphy also understands the importance of being involved in the community – a community where he has spent his entire administrative career, including 18 years as superintendent and 18 years as a principal. Before moving to Maine, he spent 9 years as an elementary teacher and 10 years as a school committee member in Massachusetts.
“In the current environment, few districts are fortunate to have an individual at the helm who possesses such a strong commitment to its school system,” said MSAD 44 board member and former chair, Marcel Polak.
Superintendent Murphy has served as the president of the local Rotary Club and the Bethel Health Center, and as a member of the Board of Trustees for the local hospital and the Board of Directors for the Sunday River Charitable Fund. A tireless advocate for his students, he used his relationships with the community and his affiliation with the local Rotary Club to create the area’s Christmas for Children Program as well as the Annual Scholarship Auction.
Superintendent Murphy is the proud father of William Murphy, an Annapolis graduate and nuclear submarine officer, and Erin Murphy, a graduate of the International Business Master’s program at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a direct channel merchandiser for L.L. Bean.
He and his wife Nancy live on an old dairy farm in Bethel.