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Golden Apple: Ms. Barbara Murphy

Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 10:13 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ms. Barbara Murphy is a teacher at St. Michael’s Special School who puts in extra time and miles to make sure the pandemic did not get in the way of her students’ learning.

“Her classroom is down the hall from my office, so I see her coming in early and see her staying late,” says head of school Dr. Cissy Laforge. “I can hear her with her students. When I go in they are always engaged.”

But Covid-19 made engaging with students is a bit more difficult for the 20-plus year veteran teacher at St. Michael’s Special School.

“Barbara was the little engine that could. She learned everything,” says Dr. Laforge.

“Dr. Cissy was able to take an extra week and really educate us, especially people like, about all the technology we were going to need to use and how we could use it in the best way,” says Ms. Barabara.

Dr. Laforge says Ms. Barbara put in late nights and early mornings to understand technology for virtual school. She says Ms. Barbara was right back to her creative ways once she mastered it.

“She took their picture and she dressed them up in a uniform and she put them on a cone so they were all sitting at their desk. So when they went virtual, they were all part of the community. So, all the kids got to know who was in the classroom where they were sitting. She really went out of her way to make them a part of the classroom,” says Dr. Laforge.

At times she went even farther for her kids.

“We were delivering a lot of packets. We drove to Luling to take books to a child. I have a student who lives in Houma. His mom was coming in and meeting me halfway. We were giving her some of the paper and pencil activities.”

It has been a year filled with hurdles. But Ms. Barbara took to the heart a lesson she often preaches to her students.

“There is a big poster with a puppy on my door and it says listen,” says Ms. Barbara. “If you can learn to listen, you can do anything. You can get a job, you follow directions, you can hear things and you can get the message. But you have to be able to listen.”

Dr. Laforge has been at St. Michael’s for about a year but she’s spent a lot of it observing Ms. Barbara.

“She gets relationships. She understands that the way to a child’s brain is through their heart.”

And learning from her fellow educator.

“I look to her wisdom. I look to her leadership. And when Barbara says something, I kind of perk up.”

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