Murphy, 67, of East Rockaway, began her career as a teacher at St. Barnabas in Bellmore — now known as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional School — from 1989 to 1994. She then worked as a substitute teacher for public schools in Nassau County for two years before she taught at Our Lady of Peace School in Lynbrook from 1996 to 2003. She was the assistant principal at St. Joseph School in Garden City from 2003 to 2009 before she arrived at OLL.
“We had a good school board, good faculty and good parents that were interested in the school and were very helpful,” she said. “It’s just little by little, they’re molding you, you’re molding them, and we’ve just become one big family.”
Murphy said she was most proud of promoting community involvement and student growth through her Catholic faith. She urged students to be aware of what is happening in the world, and helped them find ways to contribute to the community. Under her leadership, the school has taken part in Dress Down days — in which students dress casually instead of wearing their school uniforms — to raise money for catastrophic events such as Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey, the school’s annual Christmas toy drive and its yearly food collection for Thanksgiving. “Being kind, generous and doing service in the community is something I try to relate to my students and teachers,” Murphy said.
In January, the school was featured on the Catholic Faith Network for a segment with the Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, an organization that helps Catholic schools. Businesswoman Bernadette Castro interviewed Murphy, along with several students and teachers, on the importance of community and parent involvement. “The segment was supposed to be three or four minutes, and it ended being 20 minutes,” said Monica Coffey-Murray, OLL’s school board president. “We walked away from it feeling very special, but she’s been behind us ever since she started here, and she put her heart and soul into everything.”
Christine Goodwin, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at OLL, said that while Murphy has promoted the use of the technology in the classroom, she still believes in the “old school” values of education such as reading, writing and cursive handwriting.
“She has always been attentive to the needs of the school before herself,” Goodwin said. “Her dedication and her love for education in general are some of the things that will certainly be missed.”
Murphy said that the relationships she has developed with her faculty and staff members will among the memories that she reflects on most. “We’ve had teachers and faculty members who have lost loved ones or had battled cancer,” she said, “but through those tough times, that’s when we became a family. You try your best to live out Christ’s mission and to provide a support system.”
Now that she is retired, Murphy said she looks forward to focusing on the little things. She plans to take up oil painting, complete projects in her home, travel and spend more time with her husband, Jerry.
“When you’re a principal, this is your life,” she said. “I feel like I’m giving up my baby. There’s a different feeling with retirement compared to moving on to a different school . . . It’s the closing of a chapter, and it was a privilege to work here.”
Murphy will be a field supervisor for student teachers at Molloy College this fall.
When Our Lady of Lourdes School Principal Mary Murphy arrived at the school in 2009, the Yankees won the World Series. A decade later, Murphy, a diehard fan, believes that this year’s team will win it again. The only difference is that Murphy will no longer be the principal, because she retired after 30 years as an educator last month.
“Everyone here knows how much I love the Yankees, so they held a special Yankee-themed assembly to celebrate my retirement,” Murphy said. “I believe that everything is connected, and that there’s no such thing as coincidences, so I told everyone at the assembly that they will win again.”