This is the Oscar of teaching

Published: May 29, 2008 | 7067th good news item since 2003

Jean Murphy and her students at Long Range Academy have a lot of fun with math.

It’s a subject not usually associated with laughs and smiling, but the long-time teacher’s approach to the material which has to be covered is working well.

It’s working so well, in fact, that the Cow Head teacher has garnered national recognition. On Thursday, she was one of three teachers from Atlantic Canada and 26 across Canada to receive the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. The award was presented at a gala ceremony in Ottawa.

“I didn’t expect to receive such an award but I was honoured,” she told the Pen on Thursday. “This is the Oscar of teaching…it’s been a great week.”

The awards program recognizes Canada’s best teachers and early childhood educators and promotes what they have achieved. The program also strives to share the teachers’ innovative and successful teaching practices.

Ms. Murphy, a native of Job’s Cove, Conception Bay, was selected from among more than 200 nominations across Canada.

She said it’s difficult to put into words her thoughts on winning the distinction.

“This is an honour for the school, the parents, the students and the community,” she said. “You can’t do this on your own. The whole community has to be part of the celebration.”

Ms. Murphy has been at Long Range Academy for 13 years and said she’s continually inspired by her students and the staff members she works with.

“Math hasn’t always been successful but math can be a lot of fun,” she explained. “When they like it, they can be more successful.”

She teaches numeracy in Kindergarten to Grade 6, mathematics in Grades 7 to 9 and technology in Grade 7. Her teaching approach involves providing a flexible teaching and learning environment with lots of group work and critical discussion.

Among her achievements was bringing academic success to students. There’s been a significant rise in marks on standardized tests, which had historically been low. She was appointed as a numeracy support specialist to provide professional development support to other teachers.

One of Ms. Murphy’s colleagues said, “Jean is not only student-driven, she strives to make our physical building a welcoming and safe place. She is very involved in the spirit building of our school and Jean eagerly volunteers for many teams and does so with the same enthusiasm and dedication as her teaching.”

A former principal at the school had this to say: “Ms. Murphy has made a significant contribution to education in this province, to the lives of the children she has taught and to the communities in which she has worked and volunteered…in every conversation I have had with Ms. Murphy, she always seems to have a default position regarding education and teaching. She always goes back to the same fundamental question, ‘How will this benefit students and how will it increase achievement’.”

Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte MP Gerry Byrne said he was proud to attend the ceremony.

“It is a remarkable achievement for Ms. Murphy and shows the depth and talent of the people who teach at this rural school on the Northern Peninsula,” he stated. “I was proud to stand with her as she accepted her award.”

Published in Teachers
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