Murphy and Hood retire from Novi school board

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published December 19, 2022

 Novi Community School District Board of Education members Bobbie Murphy, left, and Kathy Hood retired from the school board after the Dec. 15 meeting.

Novi Community School District Board of Education members Bobbie Murphy, left, and Kathy Hood retired from the school board after the Dec. 15 meeting.

Photo provided by the Novi Community School District

NOVI — The Dec. 15 Novi Community School District Board of Education meeting was the last engagement for longtime Novi school board members Bobbie Murphy and Kathy Hood.

Murphy said she started her journey to becoming a board member in early 2007 at the suggestion of her friend, Carol Elfring, who had decided not to run for a fourth term.

“At that time, I became more actively involved and aware of how the decision-making at the board level impacted our community and the students they are entrusted to educate,” said Murphy. “I am not sure why others thought I would make a good board member, but I had four children in the schools — nine years apart — and I was doing considerable volunteering across three schools at the time of the election in May of 2007.”

She said she has always been passionate about education and learned a lot during her 15 and a half years on the board. The board helped her to grow as both a leader and a person, she said.

“There is much to learn on a school board about the role, the laws, the financing, etc. I learned much and grew as a leader and a person,” she said. “Working with a board of seven people who were not always the same seven, and with whom I did not always share the same philosophy, was challenging at times. Making decisions that at times were unpopular with one stakeholder group or another was also sometimes difficult for me as a people-pleaser. But the reward of having an inside view of our students excelling, seeing how dedicated our staff are to them, how some students turn their lives around with the support of this district, and then seeing some of those students come back to work in the district, which happens when you have been on the board for 15 and a half years, that is priceless to me.”

Hood said it has been a privilege to serve on the board for six years. She said she felt comfortable and confident when speaking on important issues at the board table.

“For the last six years I have been one of seven Novi residents who is entrusted to the oversight of this fabulous, incredible school district, and it’s been awesome,” said Hood. “I think it’s a benefit for residents, parents especially, to understand that the school board doesn’t run the district. The job of any board of education is to ensure that the district is well run.”

She said the district has been well run in her opinion and they have pushed the boundaries of opportunities that they have provided to the students. Hood said she has complete confidence in district Superintendent Ben Mainka, whom the board hired this summer, and the team he has put in place.

“They’re just engaged and onboard and really are driving where Novi’s going to go next,” said Hood. “I feel really good about that. Last night was a celebration for me, because I leave with a happy heart. I think the district is in a great place for whatever comes next.”

Murphy said she doesn’t consider herself as having achieved anything of greatness during her tenure as a board member — that it is always a team and community effort in a school system. Hood echoed Murphy’s sentiment and added that they are a group of seven and only make decisions as a group. However, she said she does pride herself in maintaining vocal advocacy for public schools.

Murphy said she learned from Elfring what serving with grace and integrity looked like, and she has attempted to do the same.

“I hope that is how I will be remembered,” she said.

Both women said they are retiring from the board to pursue other passions and enjoy some free time. Murphy has recently returned to clinical practice as a therapist, and she became a grandmother. Hood said she works full time but has plans to read often, as well as to travel more. She said she also hopes to get more involved with Moms Demand Action, an organization that works to help end gun violence.

Murphy and Hood both said they are confident in the abilities of their successors, Betsy Beaudoin and Jason Michener.

“(They) will learn much and grow into their new roles as trustees, keeping our students the priority in every decision, and that Novi will continue to be a leader in education,” said Murphy.

“My children are all pursuing their passions, and it is time to let some of the younger parents in this great district play a part in the lives of our current students,” said Murphy.