Student Nomination Story

I would like to provide my strongest recommendation for Ms. Murphy to receive your generous award. Her teachings directly align with your mission statement of preventing injustice, inequality, and systemic racism. Her daily virtual lessons assist children from an early age with recognizing inequities in our system. My daughter Arianna, who is a descendant of slaves in Holly Springs Mississippi, is in her fourth-grade class this year. Arianna is very inspired to see a woman of color teaching her homeroom class, who is so conscientious, kind, confident, and competent. Ms. Murphy does an exceptional job teaching all of the academic subjects virtually, as well as energizing and inspiring students to learn during these pandemic times. Arianna even told me, "Mom, I am so happy Ms. Murphy is teaching our class." My daughter has noticed: "I feel more confident in my writing now mom." In the evening, Arianna even works on creative writing and social justice assignments that go beyond the lessons, because she is so inspired by her teacher. She even wants to write a children's book now to help other kids. Arianna was so happy to encounter a teacher like Ms. Murphy who speaks about the importance of social justice on a daily basis, and integrates lessons about critical legal cases which have impacted our social landscape, and incorporates teachings of equality each day, along with a strong foundation for writing, spelling, vocabulary, mathematics, and social studies. My fourth grade daughter was even assigned to create a Jazz project slide show presentation, where she explored the racial dynamics in the South at that time and the musical compositions that derived from the music of the slaves. This project inspired Arianna to ask questions about her grandfather, who performed jazz music back in the day, and about her grandmother who sadly encountered segregated drinking fountains in the South as a small child. My daughter's confidence and public speaking skills improved while presenting this detailed slide show, which included blues and jazz music, to the entire class. Unfortunately, in America, it is rare for students to see African American women teaching their classes, and it is also rare to see teachers provide the youngest of students with such enriching and transformative class presentation opportunities. Ms. Murphy gives every ounce of energy she has to her students, even during these difficult times. Today, Ms. Murphy even asked her students what sweet treat they would like to be sent to their homes, because she wanted to reward them for all of their hard work in class. These thoughts and acts of kindness, endear students to her. When we were new to the school, Ms. Murphy had a parent deliver a welcome care package to us with school items we needed for the academic process; including books, folders, and other helpful academic resources. The high level of respect Ms. Murphy requires motivates students to work harder. Her social justice lesson plans teach students about important legal battles that created integration in schools and more opportunities for insular minorities within education. Ms. Murphy openly discusses racial equity, and ways that students can fight for equality within their communities. In this way, she is creating future leaders of the world, who will make advancements in social justice around the world. She serves as a shining example for all of her students - of what true confidence and competence looks like. She sets high expectations, and ensures that all of her students meet them. She guides her students through the material; she is giving them the skills to not only become good students, but to one day become future leaders. Ms. Murphy is helping her students form a social consciousness, which enables them to work toward common goals in class. She is teaching them effective time management and listening skills. If a student needs additional help, she makes time after her long day, to guide them even further. Ms. Murphy is unlike any teacher that we have ever had. Arianna looks up to her, and has even written a story, which incorporates Mrs. Murphy as a prominent leader. Her teacher has so much depth of wisdom and spirit, and she sheds so much light on her students. She is a true hero during this time, serving and guiding so many children on a daily basis, in spite of all that is happening in the world. From my personal experience, as a single black mother, who has navigated everything alone, since my daughter Arianna was a one month old newborn baby; being a descendent of slaves, my grandma carried a lot of pain from racial injustice and social inequality while serving as a Maid on the cleaning staff at the Allerton hotel in Chicago, and my mom similarly carried those pains and trauma, which she passed to me. My mother couldn't help but remind me of discrimination on a daily basis, we lived it - as she raised me in Chicago, the same city she grew up inside of housing tenements with her twelve siblings which lacked proper ventilation. I dreamed of Arianna having an opportunity to attend a wonderful school like this one, which cares about educating and inspiring, and does so on a daily basis. My dreams came true, when Arianna was accepted into Brentwood School, and Ms. Murphy became her teacher. Brentwood School and Ms. Murphy's engaging virtual lesson plans have encouraged Arianna in so many ways! Mrs. Murphy, and heroes like her, have enabled all students to get through a very difficult time. They are helping students surpass their expectations, and I will always be incredibly grateful. It is my sincerest hope that this award, and the accompanying recognition, is given to Ms. Murphy, because she truly deserves it. I want to thank your committee for reading my thoughtful note. It is organizations like yours, who keep teachers motivated and inspired! Ms. Murphy's lessons have become the highlight of most of Arianna's days, and our hope during these troubling times. With the encouragement from organizations like yours, racially diverse and highly motivated teachers like Ms. Murphy, will continue to give knowledge and confidence to hundreds of students, for many years to come. Thank you for continuing to motivate hard-working teachers all across the nation.

Arianna Shaprow Crain

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.