Elizabeth Murphy earned her Bachelor of Science in English Education from Indiana University-Bloomington and her Master of Science in Secondary Education from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She completed her +30 graduate hours from Indiana University Southeast with a focus on gifted and talented education. In April of 2015, she finished her last class at IUS for her GT certification. Her career has included teaching English, speech, and drama at both the high school and middle school levels in both public and private schools. She is in her sixteenth year at Highland Hills Middle School! Elizabeth was a 2002 recipient of a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship and the 2007-2008 recipient of the Indiana University Southeast Friend of Education Award. The $7,000 Lilly Fellowship enabled Elizabeth to write a memoir of her teaching experiences, LESSONS LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM. Louisville writer and journalist Dianne Aprile mentored Elizabeth for this project. Elizabeth won her second Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship in February of 2015 and received $10,000 to research the life of Edgar Allan Poe, father of the mystery story. She then traveled to Poe museums and houses in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlottesville, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland. Her HHMS students performed the one-act murder mystery she wrote called MURDER AT USHER MANSION. The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation named Elizabeth its 2008-2009 Teacher of the Year. She was a top ten finalist for the 2009 Indiana Teacher of the Year and also a 2009 WHAS ExCEL Award winner. She used her $1,000 for technology, posters, and books for her classroom. Elizabeth is a member of the IUS Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Indiana Teachers of Writing. Elizabeth is a New Albany native and a graduate of New Albany High School. Her dad, Eugene Baker, was a long-time New Albany pharmacist. Her mom's family has deep roots in Floyds Knobs. Elizabeth's great-great grandparents (on her maternal grandfather's side) sold their farm to famous nineteenth-century actress Mary Anderson who later donated the land to become part of what is now Mount Saint Francis! Her great-great-great grandparents on her maternal grandmother's side were one of the "First Families of Floyd County." They were one of the pioneer families who helped settle the Knobs. In the early 1800s they founded Scottsville in Layfayette Township! Elizabeth is married to her junior-high school sweetheart, Chuck Murphy, who is a local attorney. They have two married daughters, Amy Grover and Anne Cannon.
MRS. MURPHY'S PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING I want a classroom that invokes a “WOW” effect. I strive to be a “bright spot in a child’s day” as former New Albany-Floyd County Assistant Superintendent Jack Seville (my former junior high school principal and a personal hero of mine) always encouraged us to be each year during his opening day speech to the school corporation. My classroom has an extensive library and brightly colored vinyl pillows so kids can sit on the floor to read and write. I am always researching ways to make my lesson plans as dynamic as possible. In an effort to keep lessons engaging, I use multimedia every day: YouTube video clips, music, acting out key scenes from Tom Sawyer, vocabulary skits, “Writer’s Chair” where students read their writing aloud, PowerPoints, DVDs. My family and I have traveled around the country to such places as Walden’s Pond and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in historic Concord, Massachusetts, or Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, so I can bring back insights into my classroom. I have photos such as those of me standing in front of “the fence that Tom Sawyer painted” or one of me in front of the raven statue at Poe’s house in Philadelphia. During the summer of 2015, I did research on Edgar Allan Poe for my second Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant. I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, and Richmond, Virginia, to visit Poe’s homes and gravesite. I spent hours in both the Baltimore and Richmond Poe museums, and I purchased a lot of books and materials to enrich my lessons on Poe! In 2016 I finished working on my Lilly project by writing a one-act murder mystery that my Honors English students performed. That summer I also traveled to Alabama to visit Monroeville, the town that inspired my favorite novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I also visited several Civil Rights museums and sites such as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that is featured in the English 7 novel THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM (1963). My greatest success has been teaching writing. Writing allows me to connect with my students in a very personal way. Often I get a glimpse into their hearts and souls. I share my own writing with them. In return, they share powerful stories. Some of their writing is laugh-out-loud funny with humor and sarcasm; some of their writing is so touching it brings me to tears. I share with them Robert Frost’s words: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I am a firm believer in modeling good writing. As such, I do several read- alouds throughout the year: TWILIGHT COMES TWICE and OWL MOON to name just a few. Each student has a writer’s notebook and jots down rich imagery, sophisticated vocabulary, figurativ e language, and “voice” as I read. I also use the students’ writing as examples and often put passages of their writing on the Smart Board to share with the classes. Most of all, I want to make special memories for my students just as several extraordinary teachers did for me when I was a student in the New Albany- Floyd County School System! When I walk through my classroom door every day, I bring a little bit of each of those teachers with me because I want to make “magical memories” for my students, too. I am looking forward to making memories with your children in seventh-grade English! Sincerely, Elizabeth Murphy