Robert Murphy, an English as a Second Language teacher at Francis Hammond Middle School, has been named this year’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award winner from the Alexandria City Public Schools. The Washington Post presents this annual award to metropolitan area teachers who exemplify excellence in teaching and contribute to improving education.
Murphy, who has been with ACPS since 2000, is currently the ESL department chair at Hammond Middle School. He has also taught social studies and organized and chaired the Boys in Literacy Initiative to address the problem of boys scoring lower than girls on literacy tests.
Hammond principal, Kris Clark describes Murphy as a “passionate” educator who “demands excellence from himself, his students and his colleagues.” She said as the ESL department chair in a school where more than 40 languages are spoken, Murphy helps regular teachers develop a greater understanding of the ESL program and has “taken up the cause for celebrating our heritages.”
Linda Porter, a language arts teacher at Hammond Middle School, said Murphy’s “dedication stretches far beyond the books and state standards. Mr. Murphy seeks opportunities to offer students experiences that will both inform and inspire them.”
Sara Schafer, another teacher at Hammond Middle School, described Murphy as “eager to assist mainstream teachers with strategies to help them understand and better educate students who speak languages other than English…he has provided numerous staff development workshops on cultural awareness.”
Murphy has been a key player in educating other teachers, within his school and around the state and country, in effective ways to teach ESL students. He has taught in colleges and school systems in the Marshall Islands, Turkey, Nepal, Scranton, Pa., and the District of Columbia.
Murphy holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Scranton in secondary education and history, and a master’s degree in linguistics and bilingual education from Georgetown University.
The seven nominees — Gregory Baldwin, Secondary Training and Education Program; Carla Brown, Mount Vernon Community School; Patricia Brown, Samuel Tucker Elementary School; Melissa Long, Patrick Henry Elementary School; Kristin Race, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School; April Rodgers, John Adams Elementary School, and Kate Seche, George Mason Elementary School — along with Murphy, were recognized by the Alexandria City School Board at their regular meeting on April 15.