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For Immediate Release

August 25, 2017

Contact: John Crooks



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – When Emerald Academy scholars started their school year July 24, a new face greeted them: Dean Dexter Murphy.


Murphy joined Emerald Academy this summer as dean of the upper school, which will eventually include fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade scholars upon full enrollment in 2019-2020.


“This is the dream of a lifetime to be at Emerald Academy,” Murphy said. “My passion is to serve children in the heart of Knoxville, and it is an honor to be part of the team at Emerald as we work together to create a positive school culture that promotes learning and engagement.”


Murphy joins Emerald Academy’s leadership team that includes Dean Jamie Ciancio (lower school), Dean Sarah Shaver (specialized services) and School Director Renee Kelly.


“We are thrilled to have Dean Murphy at Emerald Academy,” Kelly said. “He has a tremendous ability to connect with our scholars, and I love his overwhelming enthusiasm to ensure success in the classroom.”


Before joining Emerald Academy, Murphy was principal of Green Magnet Academy and served in leadership roles at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet, Vine Middle Magnet and Pond Gap Elementary.


Originally a musician by training – Knoxville music fans might recall Murphy from his days as keyboardist and trombonist for Gran Torino – he was struck by the need to help city students with their education while working as music director at Tribe One, a nonprofit where high school youth could learn skills like audio engineering.


“I would bring all these great audio engineering resources for the teens to use, but they couldn’t read even the most basic of materials. That’s when it hit me I needed to do something to help affect change,” Murphy said.


Tribe One is also where Murphy first learned about charter schools, so having already earned his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, he obtained an educational specialist degree from UT and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University. His master’s thesis focused on innovation through the charter school industry.


As a composer, he arranged music licensed for the television shows “Dawson’s Creek” and “The Real World” and won the John Lennon National Songwriting Contest for best pop song.


Originally from Bolivar, Tennessee, Murphy and his wife Nicie have two elementary-age children and attend Faith Promise Church.


About Emerald Academy & Emerald Charter Schools

Emerald Academy is a free, independently-operated, K-8 college preparatory school launched by Emerald Charter Schools. Located in the historic Moses School Building at 220 Carrick Street in Old Mechanicsville, Emerald Academy’s mission is to grow scholars into leaders by creating the best learning culture for city students to develop the skills, habits, and values for success in high school, college and life. Supporting opportunities are available. For more information about the school and how to become involved, visit


Founded in 2014, Emerald Charter Schools is a non-sectarian, 501(c)(3) organization that operates Emerald Academy. Learn more at



Dean Dexter Murphy
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