By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Tom Murphy was named New Hampshire’s Principal of the Year yesterday.
Murphy, principal at Windham High School, received the award from the New Hampshire Association of School Principals.
Superintendent Henry LaBranche, School Board member Michelle Farrell and School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson accompanied Murphy to the awards luncheon in Meredith.
“We’re pretty happy about that,” Anderson said of Murphy’s award.
Windham High’s Bethany Bernasconi was Teacher of the Year for 2012.
“This is a sign of what the district is doing,” Anderson said.
The success extends to students. Anderson pointed to the high school’s 0 percent dropout rate and sending 92 percent of its graduates on to college.
“He’s got all the pieces,” Anderson said of Murphy, 44. “He’s a leader in academics and he relates well to the kids. He is both viewed as their friend and respected by them.”
LaBranche said Murphy was thrust into a very challenging position, elevated after just one year as assistant principal.
“He’s done nothing but succeed with every obstacle and challenge put before him,” LaBranche said.
People are willing to do whatever is necessary to make Windham High better whenever Murphy asks, LaBranche said.
“He is invested in his students, his teachers and his parents,” he said.
The Windham High faculty gave Murphy a standing ovation when informed of the award last week. Bernasconi made the announcement.
“This recognition is very humbling,” Murphy said yesterday.
He said he was accepting the award individually, but on behalf of students, faculty and residents.
“I view this award as validation for the work that has been undertaken over the last four years by many stakeholders,” Murphy said.
Windham High is still in its formative years and there is more work to do, he said.
“However, when you are surrounded by outstanding educators, committed community members and terrific students, the journey has been and will continue to be both invigorating and rewarding,” he said.
Murphy said profound influences on him include, his wife, Val, an elementary teacher in Massachusetts — “conversations at our dinner table are typically rooted in the success of our students” — LaBranche and a former principal, Richard Safier, now superintendent in Gloucester.
Southern New Hampshire also had two other finalists for principal of the year honors.
Brian Stack of Sanborn Regional High was a finalist in the high school category. Jo-Ann Georgian of Sandown North Elementary School was a finalist in the elementary category.