By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Principal Tom Murphy is leaving Windham High for the one job that could lure him away.
He’s returning to his alma mater, Billerica Memorial High School, in Massachusetts.
“There is no other place I’d have gone to,” Murphy said.
Murphy attended Billerica schools and also started his teaching career there. He had worked as an assistant principal in Billerica.
Murphy goes out on top. He recently was named “Principal of the Year” for New Hampshire.
Billerica Superintendent Tim Piwowar announced the hiring last week.
“I am looking forward to him joining our team and I am excited that he will bring his vision, commitment, passion, integrity and focus on student learning to our high school,” Piwowar said in making the announcement.
Murphy, 44, was among more than 40 candidates for the post.
Murphy conceded he is leaving with mixed emotions. Windham High is a great place, but there is great euphoria to going back home, he said.
Piwowar understands that Windham tugs on Murphy.
“He has always spoken glowingly about the people in Windham,” Piwowar said yesterday.
Windham knows Billerica is getting a great principal.
“We are very sorry to see him go,” School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson said.
Murphy hadn’t anticipated leaving Windham so soon. He became principal three years ago.
Anderson said Murphy told him he thought he might have a chance to lead Billerica in the future, but in a few years. Then a retirement opened up the principal’s post and Murphy applied.
“He always thought the opportunity to back would be there,” Anderson said.
He praised Murphy’s ability to command respect by leading, not by yelling.
What made Murphy a great principal for Windham High is measured in the personal relationships he formed, Anderson said.
“He connects with those kids,” Anderson said. “That is the hardest part to replace.”
School officials hope to hire a successor to Murphy in three to four weeks.
Murphy said he will finish the school year in Windham and does not start his new duties with Billerica until July.