ShareThis Page
South Hills

Thomas Jefferson hires new principal

| Friday, June 8, 2018, 2:06 p.m.
Pete Murphy  has been hired as the new principal at Thomas Jefferson High School.
Pete Murphy has been hired as the new principal at Thomas Jefferson High School.

West Jefferson Hills board members have hired longtime Gateway High School Principal Pete Murphy to lead Thomas Jefferson High School into a new era.

Murphy, 46, of Peters Township, will assume the role as building principal at Thomas Jefferson High School no later than Aug. 6. He will earn an annual salary of $118,500.

“He brings a lot of the characteristics that we're looking for in terms of leadership and a strategic vision and experience,” board President Brian Fernandes said.

The West Jefferson Hills School District is set to open a new $95 million Thomas Jefferson High School during the 2018-19 school year on a 161-acre property on Old Clairton Road. The start date at the new school is still undetermined, as construction delays linger.

“We're at a crossroads right now with a new building and some new curriculum that's going to be coming and we need to have a leader like Mr. Murphy who can come in and just take the reins and go,” Fernandes said.

Murphy began his career as a teacher and assistant principal in the New Brighton Area School District.

He was hired as the assistant principal at Gateway High School in 2007 and has worked as the high school principal for the last four years.

“It's a great fit,” Murphy said of the move to West Jefferson Hills. “You always try to improve upon where you've been and what you've done. I think the opportunity to come in to a brand new high school, it's exciting.”

Murphy, who received his undergraduate degree from Edinboro University and principal's certification from the University of Pittsburgh, said his focus at Thomas Jefferson will be on student success.

About 40 candidates applied for the job, including many current principals, Superintendent Michael Ghilani said.

Following a first round of interviews with administrators and school personnel, the final four candidates participated in a “gauntlet style” round of interviews, where teachers and students had the opportunity to ask questions.

That eliminated some candidates.

“If you can't interact with our kids, then we probably don't want you working in our district,” Ghilani said.

Through that, Murphy stood out, students said.

Grace Nwabuogu, 15, a freshman at Thomas Jefferson, said she liked that Murphy said he won't just focus on one group of students.

Some students aren't always happy at school, she said. And he gets that.

“I think he's going to bring fast change and good change,” junior Julia Fiedor, 17, said. “He seems very willing to give students a voice.”

For Molly Dixon, 15, a freshman, what stood out about Murphy was that he seems to value students opinions.

“He seems like a very accessible person and like that he will be a good leader for this high school and bring the change necessary,” Dixon said.

Xsavieor Rodriguez, 18, a junior, said he liked when Murphy talked about how he handle bomb threats and other threats to security.

“These days, today, I like that he knows how to handle these things, because you need to know that your principal knows what to do,” he said.

West Jefferson Hills will have an armed police officer in all five of its schools starting in 2018-19.

Murphy said he will utilize his knowledge from Gateway, where they hired a school police force.

“Security is very important. You want to make sure the kids feel safe going to school. Everything else goes from there,” he said.

Stephanie Hacke is aTribune-Review contributor.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me