The Student Success Squad of Murphy, Skinker, and Gilligan: Holding Students Accountable Every Day

Do you know Mrs. Karen Murphy, Ms. Cherish Skinker, and Mr. Larry Gilligan? If not you will know a bit more about them now. Who are they? Mrs. Karen Murphy is the testing coordinator, Ms. Cherish Skinker is the on-time graduation specialist and Mr. Larry Gilligan is our attendance officer. They all play important roles in our school. Two out of ten students know who Mrs. Murphy and Ms. Skinker are.  A few students know who Mr. Gilligan is due to attendance problems.

Together, this squad of three keeps Osbourn students accountable for their own success in high school.

Mrs. Karen Murphy is the school testing coordinator. “I set up all of the big tests,” she explained. Mrs. Murphy is in charge of scheduling tests like the SOLs, SAT, and PSAT. There is a lot that goes into her job. She researches what tests every student needs. She researches tests from other states when a student transfers from outside of Virginia. She and counselors meet with students who are in danger of not graduating. She meets with the administration when a student needs a retake. She meets with the state to make sure all testing guidelines for testing are being followed. She helps run the summer testing boot camps. She sets up the testing calendar for the school year. She sets up student testing accommodations for ESOL and special needs students. She also makes sure that the counselors and the teachers know what test each student needs to take.

Murphy assisted with testing at an elementary school before coming to high school. She gained most of her experience working with elementary students. ” I learned a lot on my own, just reading and learning,” stated Murphy.

“I was in an elementary school before I came here. I thought that I needed a change. This was a new job that was created. I realized how I could help students graduate and help them cross the stage at the end of the year,” Murphy added.

The most difficult part of her job is having to work with so many different people and departments, keeping all of the different information straight, and knowing the graduation requirements.

Mrs. Murphy had a different high school life. Part of her high school years was spent overseas on a military base in Germany. She attended a military school in grades 7 to 12. Her school had about 250 students. She was living in a foreign country with other Americans. She interacted with different people and different cultures. She graduated here at Osbourn when they were only about 500 students.

“I enjoy my job, I enjoy working with the students. I have those students that struggle to pass their test, they finally pass, and I see them walk across that stage. Seeing how happy they are and how proud their families are makes me happy and it reminds me why I do this,” said Mrs. Murphy.

Ms. Cherish Skinker is the on-time graduation specialist. Her job is to make sure students can graduate in four years; she looks at data that includes attendance and credits. She also prevents students from dropping out. “If I had to create my dream job, this would’ve been it,” said Skinker.

Ms. Skinker has a BA in English. She has an MED in foundations in education and administration. “Most of my training came from basically working with students,” said Skinker.

Prior to working at OHS, Skinker was an English teacher at  Liberty High School for 15 years. She next worked for the Virginia Department of Education. Skinker was also the principal at an alternative school in Winchester.

Her job has difficulties too, like tracking down students or seeing students give up. “The most difficult part of my job is when I see students dropping out when they are so close to finishing. Especially when they only need one or two more credits. It’s sad for me; it breaks my heart,” stated Skinker.

Skinker attended Fauquier High School. She had above-average grades. She had one AP class and the rest general classes. She joined a lot of clubs including theatre, dance, and other clubs that helped the community.

“I’m happy to be here at OHS. I want kids to know that they can come to my office because I have grandma candy! I also have the prettiest closet in the school. They say it’s an office, but it’s really a closet,” said Skinker.

Mr. Larry Gilligan is our attendance officer. His main job is to enforce the attendance laws. He makes sure that the students that live in the city are enrolled in school. He does a lot of home visits to locate students that have a lot of absences. He is in charge of maintaining order in the attendance system. He also communicates attendance expectations with families and trains staff about the attendance system. He represents the school division in court and files charges. He works with probation law enforcement and he returns students that are skipping back to school.

Before working at OHS Gilligan was a private investigator. He was also a probation manager. He has been working with students for 13 years. “My previous job experience helps me locate students that moved away and haven’t told us,” explained Gilligan.

The reason why he chose this job is that the attendance system has been broken for a while. “I came to fix it. It doesn’t seem like it, but I am. I also like challenges,” stated Gilligan.

During high school, Gilligan was not a perfect student. He was one of the students that needed lots of support. That’s actually what helps him do what he does because he was one of those students.” I honestly don’t know how I graduated,” said Gilligan.

Now you know Mrs. Murphy, Ms. Skinker, and Mr. Gilligan. If you need to talk to any of them regarding testing, graduation, or attendance concerns you can always stop by their offices located in the Commons.