Former Principal of Walt Whitman High School, John Murphy, received his Doctorate in Educational Administration before the end of this school year. After two years of completing the necessary coursework and an additional year and a half to write his dissertation, Dr. Murphy has achieved yet another prestigious accomplishment in his career.
“I always loved the classroom, but I kept being pushed by other administrators, and people said ‘you need to go do this and get your administrative degree,’” Dr. Murphy said as he reflected on his career in education. “So I got that, thinking I would stay in the classroom for another ten years and wasn’t going to go be an administrator...but it kind of presented itself and they wanted me to become the Assistant Principal of the high school of Brentwood, and that’s where I stayed for seven years.” Dr. Murphy then became the Principal of Walt Whitman High School and has remained in this position for six years before taking on his new role as Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
During his undergraduate years, Dr. Murphy paid his own way through college, working various odds-and-ends jobs. He was able to persevere and complete the program to fulfill his dream of becoming a history teacher. Dr. Murphy continued to have that same passion and motivation to overcome obstacles and succeed throughout his educational career. When pursuing his doctorate for over three and a half years, Dr. Murphy found a way to balance his day-to-day responsibilities of being the principal of Walt Whitman, complete the required courses, conduct research, and write his dissertation.
For his dissertation, Dr. Murphy conducted a study on both regular education and special education students in self-contained classrooms and inclusion (ICT) classrooms and how they perform on Regents exams. To gather data, he took years of Regents results from schools across Long Island over the course of five years and looked at students’ results with IEPs and students who were in an ICT classroom. Due to the coronavirus, however, he was confronted with an unforeseen challenge - Regents were suspended and so he could not collect data from 2020. Instead, he had to modify his research and collect data from years prior. Dr. Murphy emphasized the importance of collecting up-to-date data as the tests change from year to year. He explained, “When dealing with data, you want to get the most recent because there’s going to be change, and it could become like comparing apples and oranges.”
“Parents always have concerns about ICT classrooms and students not getting the same amount of education,” Dr. Murphy stated. His research showed that students with special needs do much better in inclusion classes due to the support they receive from having two teachers in the classroom. He also found that students in regular education do just as well as those in homogeneous classes.
“I want to help the district to make sure we continue to do well...I want to make a difference.” Dr. Murphy’s determination to succeed and achieve this prestigious honor is a reflection of his great leadership, both at Walt Whitman High School and now all throughout our district. The Wildcat family is proud of Dr. Murphy’s achievement and looks forward to what the future holds for this tenacious administrator. Congratulations, Dr. Murphy!