No riding into the sunset for Tusky Valley’s Mark Murphy

No riding into the sunset for Tusky Valley’s Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy rides a 2002 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider, which he was riding when he met his future wife Tammy on a blind date at the Sugarcreek Goshen Dairy.


The outgoing superintendent for the Tusky Valley Local School System is not hanging up his helmet just yet. In his new role as director of operations, Mark Murphy will keep an eye on the new school construction project, student safety and capital improvements.

On Aug. 1, Dr. Derek Varansky took the reins as superintendent, and Murphy believes Varansky is just the right fit for Tusky Valley at this time.

“I’m just thrilled for Dr. Varansky,” Murphy said. “I believe in him 100%. He will do an outstanding job in this new role, and I’m excited for him and his family. He is young, intelligent and energetic, and he’s going to offer a fresh voice, renewed energy, perspective and vision that will never waver in the overall mission of the district and what’s best for our children, families and community.”

A look back at Murphy’s achievements is fitting. It can arguably be said Murphy helped bring about a new era of academic excellence and financial stability, along with a restructured district where schools can work in cooperation instead of competing for resources.

Named the 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Murphy also earned the 2018 Superintendent of the Year from the Ohio School Boards Association Northeast Region and the 2019 Administrator of the Year from the Ohio Music Education Association.

In the larger communiety, Murphy serves on the ADAMHS Board, the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce Expansion and Retention Committee and the NewPointe Community Church board.

Even with an overflowing plate, Murphy is said to have found time for individualized attention to the district’s students. “People don’t know this, but he seemed to know all of the kids in all grade levels, most of them by name,” said Dick Gooding, vice president of the school board and the only member who was on the board when Murphy was hired.

“That’s remarkable for the superintendent of a district of about 1,300 students, but Mark was out and about in the buildings and in the classrooms. That shows his true interest and tireless energy for the kids.”

In an open letter to parents and the community, Murphy said, “The superintendency today is vastly different and much more challenging today than it was in 2005 when I started. Leading this type of work is hard, the stress is high, hours are long and demands are relentless. Ironically, it is also one of the noblest and most rewarding careers a person could have.”

Amy Burrier, president of the school board, shared her thoughts on Murphy, particularly his dedication. “He put 100% toward everything that he did to make our school successful. He even got his CDL to drive bus, and he drove bus when we didn’t have enough bus drivers,” she said.

Burrier also spoke to Murphy’s leadership. “He’s done great things, and he has always been open to trying new things. I think that’s part of what has made Tusky Valley the go-to school,” she said.

The rest of the quote

In the first installment of this article, Murphy was quoted as saying he always wanted to be a light. The entirety of his response to what he’d like his legacy to be is this: “I’ve just always wanted, as much as possible, to be a light, a respected leader, a positive influencer and to make a positive, potentially life-changing difference in the lives of people that I get to encounter starting with children.”

Murphy expressed gratitude to God. “I believe opportunities present themselves sometimes when it’s least expected. I believe God has shown great favor on me and on this district. I’ve felt it and seen it.”

It seems Gooding would agree. “He is a man of God, and often we would come together and pray to the Lord for guidance and wisdom,” he said. “Mark was and still is a great friend of mine.”

As he leaves the head position, Murphy expressed gratitude for being able to serve 17 years as superintendent in one school district. “This district has been incredibly good to me and to our family,” he said. “So I want to continue giving and contributing in making all the difference I can. I sincerely thank our students, staff and community for all they have done to support me and our district these past 17 years.”

Murphy recognized his transition may look like a retirement but said it is anything but. He is fully committed to serving as a mentor, guide and coach to Varansky in his early years as superintendent.

“People have said, ‘Congratulations on your retirement.’ Thank you, but I’m not retired. I’ve transitioned to a new role. Retirement will come someday, but right now I’m still leading and serving at Tusky Valley, just differently,” Murphy said.

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