At Transylvania University’s commencement 11 years ago, Tyler Murphy gave words of encouragement to his classmates as they embarked on life after college.
In Murphy’s own journey, not much time has elapsed between giving the student commencement address on that sunny May morning and becoming a leading advocate for public education.
Murphy recently was chosen to serve as the Fayette County Public Schools board chair, a role that facilitates a collaborative environment between a range of stakeholders — from fellow board members to student families to community partners.
“Public education is my passion, and its success depends on it being a community endeavor,” Murphy said. “It takes a village to raise a child, yes. And it takes a village to have a successful public education system.” He added that the challenges of this past year have reinforced just how important this shared endeavor is — what a crucial part it plays in our community.
The school board’s most pressing tasks are returning to in-person classes as safely and soon as possible and navigating a search for a new superintendent. “And, more broadly, transparency and inclusion are critically important,” he said.
An educator for the past decade, Murphy teaches social studies at Boyle County High School — his classes have included Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics, as well as AP World History. He is a National Board Certified Teacher.
At Transylvania, Murphy majored in political science and history and was as a member of the Student Government Association and speech and debate team.
He’s kept involved with the university, which is in the FCPS district he represents on the school board, having served as a 100 Doors to Success mentor and on his Class of 2010 reunion planning committee. “I remain grateful for the positive impact Transy had on my own intellectual and educational journey, and I want to ensure future generations continue to benefit from those experiences,” he said.
Murphy remembers his professors inspiring him to “think critically and analytically about the world” while considering what contributions he could make to it. “As an educator, I try to encourage my students to not only understand the ‘what?’ of the concepts we encounter but also the ‘why?’ Knowing the questions, in my classroom, is just as important as knowing the answers — if not more important. That is a mindset that is rooted in the Transylvania liberal arts experience.”
On a similar note, Murphy pointed out that Transylvania takes a holistic approach to education. “As a board member I recognize that the work of our district isn’t just about numerical measures like test scores,” he said. “Our students are human beings and, at its core, education is about preparing them to contribute positively to the world and to humanity. A more just, more equitable and more compassionate future depends on a public education system that values the humanity of our students and our educators.”