Dr. Michael Murray named superintendent of Jackson County Schools

A Western Carolina University alumnus will soon take the helm of the Jackson County Public School System.

The Board of Education for Jackson County Schools recently elected Dr. Michael Murray unanimously as their new superintendent. Murray graduated from Mars Hill College in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree and received a Master of Arts in education, a degree of Education Specialist and a doctorate degree in Education from Western Carolina University.

As a local, Murray was raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina and is happy to become the leader of Jackson County’s schools.

 “I’m thrilled to be able to come back to Cullowhee as an educator,” Murray said. “I’m very excited about working with the mountain community. It’s an honor and privilege. It’s a great opportunity for me to give back.”

The Board is confident that Murray will work well with the existing staff and administrative structure in Jackson County Schools. 

“Dr. Murray’s leadership will be a valuable asset to our already exceptional staff,” said Ali Laird-Large, Vice Chair of the Board.  “I have confidence that he will continue our strong tradition of quality education in Jackson County.”

The Board voted to grant Dr. Murray a four-year contract which includes $115,560 from state funds and $4,440 from local funds for a total of $120,000. 

How does the new superintendent view his new position?

“The superintendency is the lead position. My expectations are to accomplish goals and standards. It’s a respected position and a power not to be abused,” said Murray.

He sees WCU as a great resource to partner with for the Jackson County Public School System. As a current Associate Superintendent for McDowell County Schools for the past six years, he has an extensive amount of experience in this area.

Murray will be taking over for the current Superintendent Sue Nations, who will be retiring this summer.

“Jackson County Schools have been very fortunate to have great leadership in the past and has outstanding employees,” Murray said.

As for changes for the school system, Murray said he doesn’t intend to make a lot of sweeping changes. In fact, his goals are quite similar to WCU’s new chancellor’s goals for the new year; he plans to spend the next year listening and learning from his new staff.

“Building on programs in place, reaching 21st century goals, reaching standards of essential course standards and taking them to the next level with new standards” are a few of his immediate Murray’s first goals.

He also wants to keep a high standard of a caring school system.

“The most important part is to do what’s right for the children every time,” Murray said. “I want to lead an already strong school system with the opp. We want to prepare students to be successful.”