Markell Nominates Experienced Educational Leader, Former Principal and Teacher Mark Murphy for Secretary of Education
Governor: “Mark can hit the ground running to keep our school improvement efforts moving forward.”
“The next Secretary needs to be able to hit the ground running, needs to understand our education improvement efforts, and needs first-hand experience working as teacher and school leader. Those criteria alone would make Mark a great choice,” Markell said. “He has a teacher’s heart when it comes to caring for students, a principal’s perspective in motivating teams to succeed, and a rigorous data-driven approach to discovering what works to reward success.”
In his current role as Executive Director of the Vision Network, Murphy works regularly with a coalition of 26 public schools in Delaware to build teacher capacity and improve education outcomes. His work brought him to more than 150 classrooms this year to help implement the state’s Race to the Top reforms, enhance school leadership development initiatives, improve job-embedded professional development projects, and help identify ways to measure and improve student achievement. Mark is also currently working with the Department of Education and leaders throughout the State to implement the State’s common core standards initiative.
“Delaware has made remarkable progress, putting forward a detailed agenda and implementing innovative ideas to make sure more students graduate ready to succeed in work or college. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to helping move each of these efforts forward,” Murphy said. “The teachers, principals, parents and community leaders that I get to work with each day know how critical it is that we keep making progress, and keep doing so together.”
Murphy began his career in the classroom, as a teacher at a high-poverty Title I school in Maryland, where he served on the leadership teams that guided the school to Blue Ribbon Status and National Title I Distinguished School status. He then served as an Assistant Principal at an elementary school before becoming principal of George Washington Carver Elementary. As the school leader he led the lowest-performing school in the district (and the two surrounding districts) to some of the strongest academic gains in the district – a 30 percentage point gain in achievement levels in four years. Staff turnover went from 30 out of 50 the year before his arrival to almost none. Behavioral referrals dropped as well, from 200 behavioral referrals per month to almost none.
“Great teachers are the most critical factor in a students’ success. At the school, everyone made clear that we shared a common set of values and were working with a common purpose,” Murphy said. “We re-shaped the culture in the school by working with teachers as a team to set expectations, make them an important part of future recruitment and involve them in changes to curriculum.”
Murphy went from leading the school to a role as Executive Director of Leadership Development at New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit. There, he designed and implemented cutting-edge school leadership standards and assessments based on a trajectory of development from high-performing teacher to high-performing school principal. His work included collaborating with stakeholders to build standards of performance, assessments of leadership development, and the recruitment and admission of aspiring school leaders. Mark also directly led the successful development of over 200 school principals across ten cities.
Also at New Leaders, Mark designed, implemented, and led the Data-Driven Instruction Initiative which was aimed at providing school leaders with the best possible assessment tools, resources, and strategies to identify what was working and help give school leaders the capacity to do more of it. During this time, Mark trained over 500 school leaders and staff, worked individually with over 100 schools, and partnered at the policy level with three large urban districts.
Delaware’s current Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery recently accepted a similar position with the State of Maryland.
“I have had the good fortune to work with Mark and I firmly believe he has the intellect, energy, compassion and leadership skills to lead this Department and our state-wide efforts to improve Delaware’s schools. In short, Mark has the right mix of actual experience in schools as both a teacher and principal, coupled with the hands-on working knowledge of our state-wide Race to the Top efforts to improve our schools,” Lowery said.