YOUNGSTOWN Eagle Heights hires new chief
The superintendent appointment is part of an administrative restructuring.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Alex Murphy, former principal of East, Chaney and Rayen high schools and now an administrator in the Warrensville Heights schools in suburban Cleveland, will return to Youngstown in July as the first superintendent of Eagle Heights Academy.
"Alex Murphy is a quality educator who we believe has a lot of vision and a lot of ability to give the kind of direction that we believe Eagle Heights needs," the Rev. Gary Frost, president of Eagle Heights' board of directors, said this morning.
"He epitomizes what we're looking for in terms of leadership at Eagle Heights Academy."
Says he's thrilled: Murphy, a 1961 South High School graduate who spent 26 years in the Youngstown public schools as a teacher and principal, said he is thrilled to return to Youngstown.
"It's an opportunity to give something back to the children of my hometown, and that's what makes it so special for me," he said.
Murphy was principal of The Rayen School when he left the city in 1992 to become principal of Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. He returned to Ohio two years later as principal of Warrensville Heights High School and has spent the past year as a support administrator in the district.
Dr. Wenifort Washington, Warrensville Heights superintendent, said she is sad to see Murphy leave.
"It will leave quite a void," she said this morning.
Restructuring: Murphy's appointment is part of an administrative re-structuring at Eagle Heights, a charter school opened in 1998 at the former South High School on Market Street.
"We've recognized that we've been administratively thin and we need to beef up our administration in order to really accommodate the direction and the growth that we're going in," the Rev. Mr. Frost said.
The school enrolls nearly 900 pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade and will add ninth- through 12th-grades over the next four years, boosting enrollment to more than 1,200.
Jim Lariccia has been principal of the school since it opened three years ago.
"It's a really cumbersome task for one person to be responsible for that number of students and still maintain the quality we want to have at Eagle Heights," Mr. Frost said.
In addition to a new superintendent, the school will have two principals next year, one for kindergarten through fourth grades and one for grades five to nine, Mr. Frost said. Eventually, the school will add a third principal to oversee grades nine through 12.
Mr. Frost emphasized that Lariccia has done a great job for the school and will remain. "We're still working through some details of his involvement," he said.
Mr. Frost, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church and chief architect of Eagle Heights, also said he plans to step down as board president at the end of August. He will be replaced by the Rev. Kenneth Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church.
Mr. Frost plans leave Youngstown to become vice president of strategic partnerships for the Southern Baptist Convention.