Murphy to Retire as Headmaster at Shorecrest
He has been head of the school for 14 years. His retirement will be effective at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
ST. PETERSBURG – Shorecrest headmaster since 2005, Mike Murphy has announced that he will retire from Shorecrest at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
“My mother gave the five of her children advice about being a guest. Be on time, bring a gift, offer to help with the dishes, and leave before you wear out your welcome. During the past 14 years I have tried to follow her advice, and it is with her words in mind that I now look forward to moving to the next stage of my life at the end of the 2019-2020 school year as I retire as headmaster of Shorecrest,” Murphy wrote in a letter to the community.
Dennis R. Leary, chair of the Shorecrest Board of Trustees, shared the news with the school community, writing, “A list of specific advancements on campus along with the student accolades that have followed is far too extensive to be shared here. Moreover, the tangible accomplishments, while important, are secondary to the embodiment of the Shorecrest core values – responsibility, respect, integrity, knowledge, compassion – that Mike demonstrates each day. As a trustee and now as board chair, I have had a unique vantage point to watch our headmaster make countless difficult decisions over the last 14 years. Mike’s unwavering integrity and resolute character have been an example for the Shorecrest community as a whole to emulate. Mike and his amazing wife, Robin, have given themselves completely to our community and they will forever be an integral part of the Shorecrest family.”
Formerly the head of school at Pace Academy in Atlanta, GA, Murphy joined Shorecrest in 2005 and has grown the school in both size and prestige over his 14-year tenure.
An experienced educator, Murphy prioritizes faculty professional development and empowers the Shorecrest faculty to live the school motto – to Be More. Under his leadership, the Experiential School for 3, 4, 5 year olds and the Kindergarten-Fourth grade Lower School have become the preeminent experiential and project-based programs in the Tampa Bay Area, school officials said. Through a program inspired by John Dewey and the Reggio Emilia approach to education, the youngest children at Shorecrest develop a love of learning and the habits of mind that allow them to be inquisitive and self-directed learners as they advance through school.
In 2016, Shorecrest was awarded a grant from Steelcase Education for its innovative approach of interdisciplinary study in the fifth-eighth grade Middle School. The grant funded the new innovation and design studio in the Middle School where art and technology classes merge to allow for more in-depth projects and real-world applications of topics of study. In 2017, the Shorecrest Middle School launched “Drop Everything and STEAM” week in fifth grade. Foregoing their regular weekly schedule, the fifth grade teachers engage their students in science- and art-based challenges that mimic the structure and real-world work of STEAM professionals like designers, engineers, scientists, and coders.
Similarly, 2016 marked the inaugural year of the Center for Medical Sciences program in Shorecrest’s ninth-12th grade Upper School. The Center for Medical Sciences is an in-depth applied sciences track for high school students. In 2017, students in the Center for Medical Sciences heard from nationally recognized surgeons, medical CEOs, therapists and more, and had regular opportunities to shadow medical professionals in the operating room.
These new programs, along with other school initiatives like the 1:1 iPad Program, led to Shorecrest’s recognition as an Apple Distinguished School for 2016-18 and again for 2018-2021. The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.
In addition to supporting the academic, athletic, and artistic areas of the Shorecrest experience, Murphy is devoted to including service learning as a deliberate part of a Shorecrest education, woven through all levels of the curriculum. The Class of 2018 alone completed more than 14,000 service hours over their four years of high school. Shorecrest partners with a host of community organizations to provide a volunteer force and support including Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Clothes to Kids, Guardian ad Litem Foundation, Southeastern Guide Dogs, and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, to name a few. A Relay For Life school, Shorecrest has raised more than $1 million for the American Cancer Society over its decade hosting the event.
A dedicated educator and mentor, Murphy is also an experienced fundraiser and strategic planner. Under his tenure the school successfully completed two capital campaigns, building Landy Hall, the current ninth-12th grade Upper School building in 2008; the Middle School Arts and Sciences building in 2009; and a new state-of-the-art Athletic Center in 2011. Most recently, Miurphy championed Transform, the campaign to complete the campus master plan, which was launched publicly in 2018. In December 2018, Shorecrest received its largest single philanthropic gift ever, with a $2 million anonymous donation to Transform.
According to Murphy, “Making the decision to inform the board two years prior to my planned retirement was important to us. The support shown by the board, combined with my affection for the school, allowed Robin and me to believe that the early notice will serve both the school and the Murphys. Rest assured, I have no interest in retiring on the job. I intend to be as engaged and future-focused in the coming 18 months as I have tried to be for the past 14 years.
“At the same time, I believe it is important for the board and Shorecrest community to have adequate time to find and attract the next head and leader for our school. We owe it to the faculty, staff, students and families to ensure that the school will be in good hands and be even stronger in the future.”
Shorecrest Trustees Elizabeth Samuelson and Beth Vivio will chair the Head of School Search Committee. Carney Sandoe & Associates, a preeminent partner in the independent school head search arena, was selected to support the committee during the search and future transition.
Founded in 1923, Shorecrest is a coed, nonsectarian, PK3-12 independent school in St. Petersburg. For more about Shorecrest, go to shorecrest.org.
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