Murphy was one of three Houston-area educators chosen to receive the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) 2012 Walter Kase Teacher Excellence Award on May 2, 2012. The award pays tribute to Holocaust survivor Walter Kase, and acknowledges educators for their outstanding efforts to create an atmosphere at their school that rejects prejudice and for promoting respect of diversity on their campuses.
As the head counselor and coordinator of the No Place for Hate® program at Mueller, Murphy has implemented character programs to target the entire student population. In support of the Klein ISD’s anti-bullying campaign, she organized a week-long event in October called “Be an Up-stander, not a Bystander.” The week’s activities included: finding peace through art, a school-wide signing of the Respect for Resolution pledge, a canned food drive, dressing up to discover that the way we dress affects our attitude, and a theatrical production of the story One by Kathryn Otoshi. Mueller also partnered with Krimmel Intermediate for a Respect Walk and Rally that included several activities to promote anti-bullying. According to principal Sharon Firestone, this award comes as no surprise and is the “icing on the cake” for all the great things happening at Mueller.
“It was so exciting to hear that she was chosen for this award because I know her efforts have made a difference, especially with the students, on our campus,” said Firestone. “The programs she has put in place, the inspiration she has given all of us, and her relentless dedication to this initiative is unlike any other.”
Anti-bullying efforts began at Mueller when the school opened in 2009. Each August Murphy leads professional development trainings with teachers and staff and provides lessons, holds book studies, and offers resources for teachers to share with students. When school begins each fall students are taught 12 bullying lessons in the first 12 days of school, and as the year progresses two anti-bullying lessons per month are reiterated in every classroom.
“Our goal is to set a zero tolerance for bullying from the beginning. The lessons taught by teachers are crucial to creating a foundation of respect that Mueller is built on,” said Murphy. “When students accept one another, they are less likely to bully and more likely to defend victims of bullying.”
One of the more unique things happening at Mueller is their character education program in conjunction with No Place for Hate. The program incorporates the five core values set by Murphy, as students are able to post examples on a giant board outside Murphy’s office. With the help of teachers, Murphy tracks student progress toward achieving these five values in each grade level, and students then receive special tokens at an assembly at the end of the week. A large majority of students have received this honor, and proudly display them on backpacks and necklaces.
“Every child in our school can achieve this, and to see the excitement on their faces when they do is all the reward I can ask for,” expressed Murphy. “I could not do any of this if it weren’t for the support and teamwork I get from my fellow counselors, teachers, staff and administrators. They and the students are what fuel the fire in me to make a difference.”
Throughout the school there are visual examples of all the hard work Murphy and the staff at Mueller has put in to build a community of respect. From the Resolution of Respect banners to the giant posters filled with students’ names portraying positive character traits lining the hallways; backpacks filled with multi-colored tokens and character-building displays on the walls in each classroom; and even passive opportunities for students to report bullying through Star Power boxes around the school – Mueller is a shining example of what it means to be No Place for Hate.