The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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March 23, 2001 Issue
Local News

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 educators.

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 forest biology.

"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 this story.)

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