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New Gower Middle School Principal To Start July 1

Tracy Murphy is coming to the Gower District from Thompson Junior High in Oswego.

The Board of Education approved the hiring of Tracy Murphy as the new principal for Tuesday night.

Murphy, who is currently principal of Thompson Junior High in Oswego, will officially begin her duties as principal July 1. She succeeds current Gower Middle School Principal Rebecca Laratta, who last month was appointed to the post of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Innovation.

While she is happy in Oswego, Murphy wanted to work in a smaller district, she said.

“I think it’s a chance to know the students, the families better when it is (a smaller district),” Murphy said. “I work at a very large junior high right now. We’re 900 students this year, we’ll be 1,000 next year. Going to a smaller building was very appealing to me.”

Most of her career in education has been spent working with students in junior high/middle school.

“It’s a wonderful age. They’re trying to figure out who they are both academically and socially,” she said. “And it’s an age where they still very much want to share positive things with their teachers and want their education to be a part of their lives.

“It’s such an age too between where they start middle school and where they end middle school, the changes we see in the students are just amazing,” Murphy said.

More than 60 candidates applied for the position, Superintendent Steve Griesbach said.

“After a rigorous hiring process, we think we’ve identified a great leader for the school to  continue to support the efforts to make Gower a better place,” he said.

Griesbach said it was Murphy’s proven history of instructional leadership at a middle school that made her the right choice for Gower.

“We had lots of really good candidates, it was a difficult decision. But Tracy’s ability and our belief that she’s the right choice for what our building needs and what our school district needs really makes her the optimal choice.”

Murphy, 41, has been an administrator in Oswego School District 308 for the past 12 years. She has served as principal of Thompson for 11 years, and prior to that she spent one year as assistant principal at the school. Before entering administration, she taught five years at the junior high level in Oswego, and two years of high school in New Lenox.

Murphy, who grew up in central Illinois, currently lives in Oswego with her husband Brian and their four children: Sydney, 15; Alex, 9; Drew, 6 and Savannah, 3. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English education from Purdue University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from North Central College.

When asked of any specific plans or programs she would like to implement at GMS, Murphy said it is too early to say. First, she would like to become acquainted with the school, students and staff.

“My first step is to be at Gower a few times before school ends,” she said. “I’m very excited. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m very excited to get here, meet everyone and become a part of Gower Middle.”

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