Dedham offers superintendent job to Marblehead Assistant Superintendent Murphy

The Dedham School Committee voted unanimously to offer its school superintendent job to Marblehead Assistant Superintendent Nan Murphy at a public meeting Wednesday night, Jan. 18.

While members of the Dedham School Committee discussed some of the strengths of each candidate, Murphy was the only one of the five finalists whose name was placed into nomination for the position.

Pending the successful resolution of contract negotiations, Murphy would start in her new role on July 1.

Murphy is the second top administrator in the Marblehead schools to be offered a promotion in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Marblehead High School Principal Dan Bauer was offered the job of superintendent of schools in Danvers.

Dedham is seeking to replace Superintendent Michael Welch, who retired at the end of 2022. The district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and assessment, Ian Kelly, has been serving as interim superintendent since the start of the year.

At the outset of the meeting, Dedham School Committee Chair Melissa Pearrow explained that, working with a consultant from the New England School Development Council, the district had developed a profile of a successful candidate for the superintendent position, which honed in on four qualities:

  • effective and forward-thinking educational leadership;
  • a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice;
  • collaborative communication and leadership; and
  • skilled operations management.

Board member Victor Hebert commented that he had been impressed by how Murphy managed to touch on all of the qualities the board was seeking permeated her answers, which said to him they were “top of mind” and part of her essence.

“It’s one thing to give a speech; it’s another thing for these things to be part of you,” he said.

Dedham School Committee member Josh Donati said he had been the one charged with doing a reference check with Marblehead Superintendent John Buckey and said he appreciated that he had reinforced his strong recommendation of Murphy by saying, “But it’s OK if you don’t end up hiring her.”

When he placed Murphy’s name into nomination, Hebert added that Murphy had “brought me out, and I wanted to engage with her more, which is a powerful thing to do in an interview.”

Board member Cailen McCormick added that Murphy had risen to the top of her list when the feedback from different segments of the school community was so positive and touched on similar strengths.

“It feels like the community has a consensus, which is really exciting,” she said.

Member Chris Polito drew some unintentional laughs when he attempted to compliment Murphy’s ability to surround herself with good people by comparing her to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“Tough year to make that comment,” Donati quipped.

(This is a developing story. Check back for updates.)

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