Murphy’s Positive Influence Extends Beyond Fuqua School

Published 2:13 pm Thursday, June 25, 2015

Twenty-one years ago began a process of tapping into individual potential, growth and healing, not only for Fuqua School, but for the entire Farmville community.

Ruth S. Murphy is retiring this summer as the school’s leader, but her presence for the past two decades has resulted in the realization of boundless potential for hundreds of students walking the school’s halls.

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The community is a better place to live because of Murphy’s inspiration, hard work, enthusiasm and dedication.

“A school needs to be like a family,” she told Herald Lifestyles Editor Marge Swayne in 1994 when Murphy first came to Farmville. “We need to do all we can to achieve that.”

And Fuqua School, under Murphy’s leadership, has achieved this goal through her motivational interactions with students, faculty and staff, and being an active and integral part of this community.

Because of her, Fuqua School is part of the Farmville family, its segregationist origins fast fading from relevance.

Murphy did this through personal involvement in the community and involving Fuqua in the community. Murphy served as president and an active member of the Farmville Rotary Club. She’s served on the Prince Edward United Way Board and the board for the Wilson Center at Hampden-Sydney College.

“I felt it was imperative for Fuqua School to be an active and integral part of the community, and I went about taking specific steps to make that happen,” said the career educator.

Murphy’s steps were impactful and influential both for the community and her students.

When the Robert Russa Moton Museum invited Fuqua School to have a seat on its board of directors in 1997, Murphy accepted.

Not only did she represent her school on the board, she personally participated, and made a difference.

“I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to not only learn more about the history of the school, but of the broader community. I would never have had that perspective if I had not been so involved with the museum,” she told The Herald recently.

The accepted invitation not only led to Murphy’s broader knowledge of our community’s history, but that of her students and staff.

Knowledge is power, and through her actions, Murphy empowered her students.

Fuqua students were the first school group to visit the museum’s permanent exhibit, The Moton School Story: Children of Courage.

Lacy Ward Jr., the museum’s founding director, said that once they arrived, the Fuqua students and teachers were well-prepared to “engage our county’s shared history in an open, inquisitive and insightful manner …”

He said their preparation was a testament to Murphy’s leadership in openly acknowledging “our painful 20th century history as a means of preparing our 21st century students for the challenges they will face and overcome in their lives.”

Thanks to Murphy, Fuqua’s current and former students will take on these challenges more enlightened and with a deeper sense of place and history. Fuqua and Farmville are better today because of her leadership.