Teacher

Terence Murphy
Terence Murphy
Class: Language Arts, Social Studies, Science

1. How long have you been teaching at Riverside Prep and what do you like most about it? This is my fifth year of teaching at Riverside Prep. I started in fifth grade and then in my second year I moved over to sixth grade, so I've been teaching sixth grade for four years. The reason why I love it here is we're a family. We make a very cohesive team and that's always been a building block for us. I know everybody in the district, even over on the elementary side and high school side, so it's nice to be able to share not only the issues that I have, but also the wins and successes. It just has that family feel to it where we're all working together and I really like that.
2. What got you into teaching? It was a calling honestly. I worked for Target for 20 years and about midway through that my supervisors talked me into going back to school to become an executive and I realized that's not what I wanted to do and that what I really liked was teaching. And to be honest, what did it was I saw the movie "Dead Poets Society" in my early 20s and I think when you go back to it, that movie was the seed. And so, over time, it was a long process to go through the credentialing and here I am. I don't regret it one bit, because my worst day as a teacher is way above my best days at Target.
3. What do you like most about teaching sixth grade students? The unique perspective is watching them go through that change. They're not top dog on campus, they're in kind of this quasi-confined place because we do sequester them in some ways. They do mesh with seventh and eighth graders when it comes to electives and P.E., but for the most part they're all together. So it's fun to really watch them go through this whole change they're going through, even though it can be difficult and frustrating at times. I tell my students that the way I look at teaching is they're history in the making and I've got this walk-on part, this guest-starring position in this story of yours. And what influence am I going to make on their story? And they're in a place where they're figuring out who their real friends are and you see the split-ups and them making new friends and we're not just tasked with getting them ready for seventh and eighth grade academically, but socially and psychologically as well. It's challenging but it's also a lot of fun to see them change and grow.
4. Favorite moment in teaching? I really like when we go on a field trip because while you're there as their teacher, but for me it's kind of getting to know my group of kids in a different atmosphere. Even on the bus ride to and from, I have these highly interesting conversations that have nothing to do with school. Those are my favorite moments, when I get to talk to them one-on-one and get to know them better. It changes your focus and just helps you connect better with the students.

5. What does it mean to be selected as the Middle School Teacher of the Month? It's always nice to get recognition. I think it's a good thing every once and a while to have something that says, 'Hey, I want to spotlight you.' But it's really just the cherry on the top. Whenever you get something like this, it's just a nice feeling and something you can look to during those times when things aren't going great. 

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