Photo by Keith McCoy.
Hoover City Dad Brigade
New Hoover School Board President Derrick Murphy and his wife, Shenavia, play with their children, Bailyn, Asher Robert and Galien, near their Ross Bridge home.
As Derrick Murphy takes over as president of the Hoover Board of Education in June, he has one special initiative near the top of his agenda: getting more dads and father figures more involved in Hoover City Schools.
It’s a concern the husband and father of three is passionate about. Murphy and his wife, Shenavia, moved to Hoover in 2005 in large part because of the education their children could get in the city schools.
Their oldest child, Galien, is a rising senior involved in the engineering academy at Hoover High School, and plays running back on the Bucs 7A state champion football team. Their daughter, Bailyn, will be a third-grader at Deer Valley Elementary this fall. Their youngest son, Asher Robert, is 2.
Murphy, a civil engineer, said he has always made family and God a priority in his life, and encourages other fathers to continue to be more active in their children’s education.
In May, Murphy created a new organization called Hoover City Dad Brigade, with a mission of having fathers “be an example for our children while supporting our teachers.”
Their signature project will take place Saturday, Aug. 1, when Murphy has set a goal of getting 400 fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and teen boy volunteers to work together doing various volunteer projects at Hoover’s 10 elementary schools.
He hopes to energize other fathers in the importance of getting involved in city schools. In most school systems, mothers take the lead in helping educational activities.
“The goal of the Hoover City Dad Brigade is to rally Hoover dads together,” Murphy said. “Father figures can be dads, granddads, uncles and brothers. Our system has many different programs where our parents are engaged, and I wanted to offer an additional way for dads to buy in.”
The group will meet at the Home Depot at the Riverchase Galleria at 6:45 a.m. that day and have breakfast provided by lead sponsors Home Depot and Chick-fil-a in Riverchase, and then go and work until 1 p.m. at city elementary schools. Murphy has started a Hoover City Dad Brigade Facebook page, and will begin soliciting men and teen boys as volunteers beginning in early July.
“We will feed everyone breakfast, have a 10-15 minute introduction period and then at that point every dad will get their assigned school and task he is to do as well,” Murphy said. “Each school will have a project leader and assistant to direct dads once they get to the location.”
The 10 elementary schools receiving volunteer service work by the Hoover City Dad Brigade are: Bluff Park, Deer Valley, Green Valley, Greystone, Gwin, Riverchase, Rocky Ridge, South Shades Crest, Shades Mountain and Trace Crossings.
“The beautiful thing about it is our principals are all on deck for it,” Murphy said. ”I had a conversation with our Hoover Parent Teachers Conference president, [and] they are on board. This will be a really exciting event annually we will put on. We have a great city that waits for opportunities like these to occur.”
Murphy was raised in the Ensley community of Birmingham by his grandparents, Ruth Murphy and the late Arthur Robert Murphy.
“My grandfather taught me the importance of being a gentleman, telling the truth, being a good steward of money, and in all things keep God first and the importance to honor God in all that you do,” Murphy said. “I’ve tried my best to instill that in my kids. When you do those things, you have a great chance at success in life.”
Murphy said one reason he got sought to be on the school board was because studies show when parents take an active role, their kids perform better in school. He said when fathers, in particular, are more involved “students perform better in school and socially, behavioral issues are down, and it provides a better opportunity once you become adults to make educated decisions that benefit you long term.”
Donna Frazier, who spent 10 years on the Hoover school board before stepping down in May, said she has seen up close how passionate Murphy is about helping children in city schools.
“I worked really close with Derrick over the past year as president since he was vice president and have met his wife and children, and seen Derrick’s love for his family,” Frazier said. “Derrick is passionate and dedicated in all that he does for Hoover City Schools. The Hoover City Dad Brigade is a prime example. Derrick is trying diligently to make a positive difference in people’s lives, especially the children in our school system.
Murphy said he is blessed to have a strong, supportive wife and three wonderful children. Their oldest, Galien, has a long term career goal to be an athletic director on the collegiate level after he gets his degree. Their daughter, Bailyn, “has taught me to be a lot more patient and sensitive,” he said. And their 2 year old, Asher Robert, is also destined for success, Murphy said.
He is optimistic that the Hoover City Dad Brigade will be well received and get more fathers active in city schools.
“As a parent, I try to do the best I can to teach my sons great values and understand the importance to make the right decisions,” Murphy said. “I think it is important that parents, especially dads, be engaged and understand that kids sometimes make mistakes and you are to guide them out of those mistakes and lead them down the path to success.”