TOTY Paige Murphy loves to see it click with students

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a Q&A with all of the teachers of the year in the Troup County School System. Today we are writing about Paige Murphy, a Reading teacher at Long Cane Middle School. We asked her 20 questions, and we shortened this interview to some of our favorite responses.

Murphy has worked in education for nine years, all of which have been with the Troup County School System at Long Cane Middle School.

Paige is married to Jake Murphy, who grew up in the Troup County School System. They have three children ranging from 2 years old to sixth grade.

Murphy is passionate about literacy and has found great alliances with like-minded educators at Long Cane.

“One of my favorite partnerships is with our media specialist, Katie Newman. We have a collaboration day every Friday where we work together to create a really fun and challenging literacy activity to review what we have learned that week. These days we push ourselves harder academically, but it is always our favorite day. We all head into the weekend with huge smiles,” Paige said.

Paige and Jake are actively involved in various local ministries in town.

Q: What inspired you to become an educator? (Or who?)
A: “About ten years ago, I was preparing to go to law school and working at a local church. I had the opportunity to teach children’s church every Sunday and fell in love with it. I loved building relationships with students and families. When I went to law school, it was clear very quickly that I missed my calling. I transferred my enrollment to the School of Education and moved back to LaGrange and began working in the school system.”

Q: What are your career aspirations?
A: “My aspiration is to continue to develop expertise in literacy. There is nothing that motivates me more than figuring out why a student is struggling and implementing a solution that works for them, then watching them thrive. I have students come back years later telling me about how they use the skills we learned together in college or in their careers. I hope to spend my life in the literacy sector of education.

Q: If you weren’t a teacher, what career field would you be in?
A: “If I wasn’t a teacher, I’d work at a library, as it’s my favorite place to visit.”

Q: What’s the most creative/unique project one of your classes has worked on?
A: “Last year, after we finished A Long Walk To Water, our students had a week to create a board game for their classmates to play. We had paper, clay, paint, cardboard and anything else you could imagine. Students used all four tenets of literacy (Reading, Writing, Critical Thinking and Public Speaking) and created engaging thoughtful and beautiful pieces. We pulled in students and adults from across the building to enjoy the board games with us. I was so proud of them. However, the true joy was seeing how proud my students were of their work. It was a truly special week.”

Q: If you could invite any historical figure to speak to your class, who would you choose and why?
A: “I would invite C.S. Lewis. We just finished Chronicles of Narnia and my students have so many questions about its world, creatures and magic. I need him to help me answer some of the questions.”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part about your job?
A: “The most rewarding part of my job is what I call the ‘click.’ After we determine what a student needs to be successful, we implement a plan together. The first time they see their data improve or they finish a difficult book or assignment with ease or achieve some other milestone they previously thought was impossible, I get to see the ‘click.’ They surge with confidence and motivation. We are able to see their potential together. After that first great accomplishment, I really get to see students soar.”

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
A: “In middle school, sometimes the most challenging part is getting students to buy in. It takes some work to communicate the value the class or school in general has to offer them.

Q: What did it mean to you to be named your school’s teacher of the year?
A: “It meant so much to be named teacher of the year. It felt incredibly special to share our successes with others in the building and celebrate my incredible students together. My students were so proud when they came into the class to let me know I was selected. My students have worked so hard. It was really amazing to be able to celebrate together.”

Q: On a weekend or a summer day when school is out, what are your favorite activities?
A: “I love summertime with my children. We spend our mornings playing outside at a park or Callaway Gardens, and we spend our afternoons with friends or in the library. We have the best pool days and movie nights all summer long. It is such a special time.”

Q: As your students transition to the next grade or graduate in May, what is one key takeaway you hope they carry forward from their time in your class?
A: “We practice being ‘problem solvers’ all the time in class. I think one of the most beneficial skills I send with my students is the mindset and the confidence that they can figure it out. We really celebrate that with them.”