On the cutting edge: a technology icon in Forestville ready to retire | News, Sports, Jobs
FORESTVILLE — The world has changed a lot since 1999, especially the world of technology. Every year since then, and in fact for several years before, technology has grown and evolved at a rapid pace, and people all over the world have had to keep up with the endless stream of development.
The boundless technological growth of the late 1990s and 2000s essentially covered the career of Forestville Central School District’s director of technology and communications, Mike Murphy, who is expected to retire after the end of this school year. Murphy became a full-time employee at Forestville in 1999 after working at the school for three additional years previously as a BOCES employee, and has been at the forefront of modernizing Forestville since he started in school. With Murphy at the helm, the neighborhood was in good hands at the start of the tech boom.
“That’s why I was hired here,” Murphy said. “When I started… They knew the technology was really going to start to blossom and there really wasn’t anyone on the staff who knew much about computers.”
Murphy’s time at Forestville began before he was even officially hired at the school. His two children, Greg and Eric, frequented the district, as Murphy was already a resident.
In 1995, Murphy was made part of Forestville’s technology committee, made up of a few teachers, administrators, and parents.
“I had my nose in technology and asked if I could be on the committee, and they said yes,” Murphy said. “So when we’re talking about different things the school should be doing, like getting a media computer or going on the internet, because they weren’t even on the internet yet, that’s when they decided they had to get a person here and that’s where I applied.
Immediately after Murphy’s hiring, Forestville began its rapid technological advancement. They were the first school in Western New York to put their grades online. While the idea that sparked Murphy originally came from Forestville science teacher Jon LeBaron, Murphy took the idea and followed it. While other teachers at the time were shy about putting the grades online, Murphy immediately gained a lot of trust from the school administrators and was able to accomplish a lot thanks to to that.
“We didn’t ask the teachers if it bothered them, we just did” Murphy said. “And they were cool, there were no issues. They didn’t mind and it became a great tool for parents. … I’m not afraid to try new things.
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Originally from Greenwood in Steuben County, Murphy has always had an interest in technology. When he was in high school, he said he was eager to help out with the school’s A/V department, which was originally how he knew he wanted to end up in the school system. .
From there, Murphy went to the State University of New York at Fredonia for recording engineering, which is how he ended up in the county. It was there that he met his wife, Bonnie, and all of these factors resulted in him remaining in the area. He then found himself working as a line supervisor for a company in Silver Creek that made industrial beds, but even there he tried to get into the technology side of the business. But in doing this, his goal was always to return to school.
“I always thought that working in a school would be the best thing ever,” he said. “It was my thing, I really wanted to work in a school. When I was a kid in school, I was doing all the technical stuff. … I was the guy who would get the movie projector, I was the A/V guy. When I was in high school, I did a lot. »
At the forefront of Murphy’s mind, while reflecting on his career, are the milestones the school reached during his tenure. The first step, in 1997, was for teachers to get their own computers, complete with email, notebook and Microsoft Office, which Murphy said he was excited to accomplish. From there, Murphy said he blossomed into installing projectors in classrooms, getting a media element into the room, serving as an additional milestone for the school.
“Instead of rolling around in the movie projector or playing a VCR tape, everything was on demand,” Murphy said. “We had a service where they called in videos on demand while still playing DVDs, so there’s all of that plus the ability to do PowerPoint presentations. In 2000 we started with this, and I called it the Model Classroom because it was the classroom of the future…To this day these systems are still working because I made sure everything was in order. industrial grade and very high quality.
Living in the tech boom of the 2000s and hitting those milestones is what Murphy says made the job so exciting. He loved the challenge of discovering new things and trying to keep Forestville at the forefront of it all.
“Every day was practically something new”, Murphy said. “There were always new things coming on the road. I was always out watching and trying to see what was going on and it was so much fun waking up in the morning because you knew there would be exciting new things to experience. I really woke up and couldn’t wait to get to work.
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As for his most memorable moments of his career, there are a couple that stand out for him. For one, it’s the morning ad presentations that Forestville has. Although they started before Murphy was hired, he helped continue and grow the program, regularly inviting several students from the district to appear on the school’s morning show. Ads have been turned down by Murphy for the past two years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and only recently have they returned to Forestville, which Murphy says will make the final months of his tenure at Forestville even more memorable.
“For two years, I had nothing to excite me to want to come to work”, Murphy said. “Knowing that I can jump in and start with the morning announcements, I’m here very early now. It’s simply the best way to start the day.
Murphy also mentioned school musicals and being a class counselor as things that stood out for him, but neither those nor the announcements were the things that stood out the most for him. It would be the Forestville Auditorium, something he had to fight and fight for throughout his career.
“This whole idea started in 2005,” he said. “It was a very long process to convince the public…It was an uphill battle for two years to get the community to see the benefits we would get from it…It’s an amazing facility to finally have.”
From 1977 to 2004, Murphy, with the help of his sons, DJed weekend gigs under the name “Mike’s Road Show” originally known as “Mike’s Disco.” As a teenager, he was able to secure a bank loan in order to purchase his own equipment to jump-start what would become a decade-long business. And while they did, Murphy knew there was no one better.
“Me and my two boys were the best DJs in the county, hands down. I’m never afraid to say it” Murphy said.
People may also recognize Murphy from Fredonia’s old bar, Goby Dicks Lounge, which once held Saturday Night Fever-type events. They needed a DJ, and for a year that DJ was Murphy.
“I was their DJ for a whole year” he said. “If anyone my age heard Goby Dicks, they would know immediately. And if they remembered, they would have heard me. I loved that era. It was so much fun back then.
While Murphy has given Forestville a lot, he’s incredibly grateful for what he’s given back. He noted that the administrators always gave him the support he needed to pursue what he wanted without micromanaging him, the teachers never gave him problems when it came to learning new things, and most importantly , it has always been able to generate a strong amount of students. participation in things like announcements.
“And I’ve always tried to get the students on the TV show or help out over the summer or work with the crew,” Murphy said. “Whenever I had the opportunity to catch children, I did. I always wished someone at my school would let me do this, and they ended up doing this, and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to pique their interest and open them up to careers.
In fact, he had the opportunity to impact so many lives in Forestville, he is now part of his second generation of people he has worked with.
“I see children of children graduating this year”, Murphy said. “There is a child who graduated this year and the mother of this child was in the class of 2001. It blows my mind to see two generations going through this school now. It’s very weird.
Murphy, who has never taken sick leave in his 23 years of full-time work at school, must now find a way to fill his time. If he will not completely leave school life behind him, he will spend his winters visiting different parts of the country.
“We have a nice motorhome and we are going to cross the country”, Murphy said. “It’s called full-time VR, so we’re going to do it. There are so many people doing it now and it’s crazy. We watch a lot of YouTube videos on it.
Murphy’s impact on the school, however, will be nearly impossible to replace. The trust placed in him throughout his career and the dedication he returned because of it are rarities. And while he may leave, his lasting impact on the school can never truly be replaced.