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CDE Names WHES' Murphy Finalist for Colorado Teacher of the Year

Wendy Murphy, teaches a third grade class at WHES Aug. 17. The Colorado Department of Education Aug. 15 named Wendy Murphy, an educator at Woodmen Hills Elementary School in District 49, one of seven finalists for Colorado’s Teacher of the Year.

“Colorado values the dedicated teachers from around the state who inspire and motivate our children every day,” said Colorado’s education commissioner Katy Anthes, in a release. “The Colorado Teacher of the Year award is just one of many ways we can honor our state’s educators. We look forward to hearing from the seven finalists in the search for the individual who will represent our state’s teaching profession.”

The Colorado Teacher of the Year program is a statutorily required position to annually acknowledge an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled K-12 classroom teacher to represent the entire profession in Colorado. The Colorado Teacher of the Year automatically becomes the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition. The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with Voya Financial and People to People Ambassador Programs.

Murphy, a second grade teacher during the 2016-2017 school year, was honored as the WHES Teacher of the Year in front of Board of Education directors during Fantastic 49 recognition ahead of the June BOE meeting. She was unable to attend the event due to previously scheduled plans.

“Wendy is an exceptional educator. She is patient, kind and demonstrates a true commitment to the success of every child,” said Kathy Pickering, PhD, WHES principal, in a nomination letter to CDE. “She spends countless hours pulling data, organizing groups for targeted support, and supporting tutors as they develop instruction to support individual student needs.”

“She has a passion for helping students succeed and is a natural leader possessing multifaceted talents,” said Pickering.

In addition to typical classroom duties, Murphy has served as the building liaison and mentor teacher for student teachers for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for the past twelve years.

Eleven of the current educators at WHES did their student teaching at the school while Murphy served as the site-coordinator to the UCCS program.

“I was the clinical teacher to six of these exceptional teachers,” said Murphy. “Hosting these beginning professionals in our building provides a quality system of support for many classrooms and grade-level teams.”

“We grow excellent teachers and we hire excellent teachers,” Murphy said. “I’m proud to share that my school and my district gainfully employ many of these outstanding teacher candidates that have been a product of our collaborative hard work.”

“My greatest joy is watching these teachers make Woodmen Hills Elementary School a better place to learn, work and lead.”

Murphy is serving in a new role this year as the primary proficiency and data coach.

“I strive to have a growth mindset like I expect my students to have,” said Murphy. “I had an amazing opportunity to apply for this data coach job and push myself. I’m not only working with student teachers but with my colleagues to make our better, best, and best, excellent.”

“It’s a new challenge and involves risk. I’m doing what I expect my students to do.”

Wendy Murphy, WHES primary proficiency and data coach, concentrates in a meeting Aug. 17. Murphy’s message as a spokesperson should she be named Colorado’s teacher of the year focuses on the need to serve the whole student, including social and emotional abilities.

“Skills such as perseverance, goal setting, and reflection, resiliency, and self-worth need to discussed, modeled, and practiced across all academic content areas,” said Murphy. “They need to be a part of each school’s culture and community. Students need to understand that the struggle is an important part of learning.”

Colorado’s Teacher of the Year will be announced by Nov. 1 and is chosen by a committee composed of a variety of individuals from within the education community. The selection process includes a written application, letters of recommendation, site visits, endorsements from the teacher’s district and personal interviews.

Nominees are judged on their ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities. They are expected to play an active role in the community and to have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues.

“It truly is an honor to be nominated by your peers,” said Murphy. “The whole Teacher of the Year process really made me reflect on best practices and why I’m a teacher.”

“Straight out of college, I wanted to change the world. After a few years of teaching, I wanted my students to change the world.”

Matt Meister