Patrick Murphy, superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, is a finalist for a national superintendent of the year award. (Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools)

Patrick Murphy, who has overseen unprecedented growth at Arlington Public Schools, was named one of four finalists for national superintendent of the year by AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

The school system hired Murphy in 2009, and he has led the suburban district through a growth in enrollment that is now challenging the densely populated community. It consistently ranks among the best school systems in Virginia and received the U.S. Senate’s Medallion of Excellence earlier this year. Murphy also was recognized as Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Murphy said he views the distinction as a reflection of broader school community’s success.

“I’m a representative of Arlington and the quality of the people we have in our school division and our community,” Murphy said. “We’re building on a lot of success of our community ... there’s an army that’s making all this possible.”

He said he is most proud of helping children on both end of the academic spectrum. Under his tenure, he said fewer students are dropping out of school and more are graduating. At the same time, more students are taking on rigorous courses at the middle school level. Since 2010, graduation rates have climbed from 85 percent to 92 percent.

Patrick Murphy, superintendent of Arlington Public Schools (Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools)

“We’ve made some real advances as far as kids completing school,” he said.

Murphy is a native of Northern Virginia and currently lives in Arlington. He started as an educator in 1988. Before coming to Arlington, Murphy was an assistant superintendent with Fairfax County Public Schools. Prior to that, he was a principal at schools in Alexandria and Springfield.

Schools superintendents in Hillsborough County, Fla. (MaryEllen Elia), Clarke County, Ga. (Philip Lanoue), and for the Ascension Public Schools in Donaldsonville, La. (Patrice Pujol) are the other finalists for the award. The national award is scheduled to be announced in February at the National Conference on Education in San Diego.