Educationally Speaking, New Principal at Morse

Winfield L. Morse Elementary School Principal Ann Marie Murphy was busy preparing for the school year a couple of weeks ago, but sat down in her office for a few minutes to discuss her new position.

Murphy replaced Interim Principal Joanne Vale, who took over after Principal Joseph Carmody unexpectedly died in June 2006.

"By all accounts, I am following in the footsteps of a very great man," said Murphy, a resident of Monroe in Orange County. "Coming into a situation where you’re following in those footsteps, you really have to give pause to listen to what people have to say about that person…You try to respect and honor the great things they brought to the school culture, and so that would be part of what I would like to bring to the principalship."

Murphy brings with her two years of experience as Principal of a K-5 school in the Ramapo Central School District. Before that, she was Assistant Principal at an elementary school in Washingtonville in Orange County. She also taught in the first, second, and sixth grades as well as teaching gifted and talented in Grades 1-6 in Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Her educational background includes a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Fordham University in Tarrytown and a master’s degree in elementary education from Long Island University. She also received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in writing for film and TV at New York University.

Q: What are your goals for the upcoming school year?

Murphy: There are several goals that you always have as an administrator. The never-ending goal is always to increase the capacity of one’s staff. We are as great as the people who serve our students. Assessing what the strengths of the staff are would be a goal. Working with teachers on differential instruction to maximize the education for every student individually is a strong goal of mine. Your general goals of getting to know your staff, getting to know your student body, getting to know your parents, as an incoming principal, that’s just a no-brainer. Then you’ve got to get into curriculum – "What are we teaching, and how are we teaching it?" and coming to understand the district philosophy on every segment of the academic area, so that I can assist the teachers in whatever way, shape, or form – so they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Q: What are you most anxious about?

Murphy: I don’t know. I guess I’ll be most anxious about it when it hits me in the face. A friend of mine, who’s an assistant superintendent, said, "Ann Marie, when I first got the job as assistant superintendent, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know." And then she said, "My second year, I knew what I didn’t know, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Then everything came together in my third year." So, although I can’t say what specifically I’m anxious about, I’m sure there are going to be many things that make me anxious during the school year.

Q: What was your favorite thing to do over the summer?

Murphy: Go to the Jersey Shore. Go to Ortley Beach and hang out with my kids, my family.

Q: Did you read any good books or see any good movies this summer?

Murphy: I actually read a very good biography – It’s Not About the Bike, by Lance Armstrong, which was extremely inspirational. There’s always a lot to learn from biographies. It’s one of my favorite genres. Favorite movies, gosh, I saw a couple. I saw a lot of bombs. My kids take me to the movies so I get stuck watching all those terrible movies. Nothing really stuck out this summer.

Q: Do you have a message to the parents in the community?

Murphy: Cultivate in your children self-reliance, independence, competence and confidence. And enjoy them as the years go by.

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