Principal Fred Murphy Earns Masayuki Tokioka Excellence Award, National Secondary Principal of Hawai’i

Chloe Kitsu, Editor In Chief

     Within the past year, Principal Fred Murphy has received two awards for his principalship at MHS. Murphy was a semi-finalist for the Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award and represented the state of Hawai’i at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Through many hours of submitting and writing applications, he was able to share the spirit and passion of MHS across the nation.

     “This has been a humbling experience and an incredible reminder of the great work being done here at MHS. I want all of our teachers to be seen for the quality of work that they do and the impact that they have on students,” said Murphy. “I think that’s one of the biggest things to see how can I continue to do more in terms of celebrating the quality that’s happening on our campus every day and helping others to feel rewarded for their efforts.” 

     For both awards, Murphy had to go through an extensive written application process, as well as some interviews, — normally, principals don’t get nominated for both awards in the same year. He had to share about himself and his accolades, MHS’ curriculum, extra-curricular programs and some future goals for the school. “It’s quite extensive. And it’s not easy typing,” said Murphy. “You’re trying to summarize the very complex work of the school. It’s literally a 20 page application. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is crazy.’ But then you stop, reflect and realize all the things that have happened. We have done a lot.”

     Murphy was taken by surprise when he found out he won the NASSP award — he got to share the moment with both of his sons. Former Kaimuki High School Principal Penny Tom relayed the message to him. “I got a phone call at home on Saturday morning, and my sons were with me, so I tried to play it really cool to the person who called me,” said Murphy. “So I was really cool on the phone, but once I put it down, I was like, ‘Boys,’ I kind of jumped around and celebrated.”

     During the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, Murphy went to Washington D.C. to participate in professional development workshops as well as a dinner celebration for the NASSP award. Along with this, he also got the opportunity to lobby for education on Capitol Hill and meet with some of Hawai’i’s congressmen and women. “So we go to classes for three days (for) about 10 hours and we network with the 52 other principals that were awarded. So there’s one from the District of Columbia and one as an international teacher that were awarded. They had us doing collaborative exercises, they had us talking about the different things that are happening in our schools, sharing some of our best practices,” said Murphy.

     Since winning the NASSP award, Murphy has joined a new group of principals who now have the ability to share and advocate for their schools within their state. One of his goals is to support a raise in teacher pay and to help schools improve their quality of education. “Not just this professional circle of journal writing for this coming year, but also an advocacy wing of the DOE (Department of Education) where we’re going to be looking at systemic issues in the department and how can we use our voice, as a collective group of principals to raise awareness about needs in our department,” said Murphy.

     Another one of Murphy’s goals since winning the award is to make sure everyone is celebrated in their own way. Whether they are students, faculty, in athletics or academics, he wants to spread the feeling of honor he has had with his awards at MHS. “One of my missions I told you about is to work on facilities and the physical plant of Mililani High School. Another one has always been to celebrate the people of Mililani High School, to try to have students find a connection with at least one adult here. To try to have teachers feel acknowledged and supported in the difficult work they do. And to celebrate people when there’s something to celebrate,” said Murphy.  

     Although he has received many accolades this past year, he credits the work to the entire school. Through these awards, he is able to share more of his experience at MHS with others. “This is an amazing team of people and our students are incredibly talented. To me, it’s a celebration of the whole organization.” said Murphy.

     As for the future, he is focused on getting MHS through their six year accreditation renewal as well as strengthening career technical education programs.