Valley teacher honored
Kohl Award winner Jim Murphy chairs St. Mary's science/math department
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
"Success is a commitment, not a wish. Each person will become
what he or she chooses to be."
That's the motto of Jim Murphy, chair of the science/math
department at St. Mary Central High School, Neenah. For his
commitment to teaching excellence, Murphy has been awarded a 2001
Kohl Teacher Fellowship. St. Mary Central parents nominated him
for this honor, which is presented annually to 100 Wisconsin
According to Murphy, the recognition is a reflection of the
teaching atmosphere at St. Mary Central.
"I'm allowed to teach," he said.
Teaching for Murphy extends beyond the classroom. Last year he
led students on a trip to Eleuthera, Bahamas, for a weeklong
marine biology class. He will return there this year and also
accompany a group of eight students to Costa Rica to study rain
"Jim Murphy is a wonderful role model for students and staff,"
said Sue Simonsen, principal at St. Mary Central. "He has been
actively involved in developing new and innovative science
courses for St. Mary Central students."
In addition to offering field opportunities for students, Murphy,
who has been teaching for more than 30 years, has developed
advanced placement science classes and serves as a mentor for the
St. Mary Central Environmental Education Center, helping with a
student-developed energy exhibit-Jacob's Ladder. He also coaches
the school's science team and last year, organized a science bowl
for students to showcase their science knowledge.
Preparing students for college is an important goal, said Murphy.
To further prepare them, he involves students in college-level
experiences through the Marquette University Student Scholar's
Program and the University of Wisconsin Applied Research Program
through the College of Agriculture. He was also only one of 20
teachers in the nation selected to pilot teach a segment on DNA
research for high school biology students.
The Kohl Teacher Fellowship is not the first teaching honor for
Murphy. He has twice been selected as the recipient of the King's
Daughters Teacher of the Year Award.
His greatest reward though is reaching the students.
"Teaching is getting students interested and sharing the topic
with them," he said. "I enjoy coming to work each day. I like
seeing the lights go on out there when I'm sharing the things
that I know."
(Dr. Margie Weiss, St. Mary Central High School, contributed to