By Ben Barranco and Emma Kielion
Walking in on your first day in Film as Lit not knowing what to expect or what your teacher will be like. You open the door to see a woman writing on the board. You find your seat. As the bell rings for class to commence, immediately your new teacher turns around and says, “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” Startled, you sit there confused asking yourself who is she? At this moment you realize you have Mrs. Liz Murphy or more commonly known as Murphdawg.
Murphy has been teaching English at Batavia High School for 21 years. However, she is retiring after the fall semester of 2018. Murphy has made an impact not only on the English Department but her students and colleagues as well. Her acclaimed personality and sense of humor, according to her students, have made her stand out as an educator. Although she may say there’s nothing interesting about her, her students and colleagues say otherwise.
“Mrs. Murphy has always been a straightforward voice in meetings or when needing help with a class,” said Kim Pearlman, Murphy’s colleague for the last 17 years. “She’s not afraid to give you her opinion, and you listen because there’s thought and experience behind what she has to say.”
With all the experience she accumulated over the past 21 years, it was time for her to retire in the spring of 2018. Soon after, Murphy started a routine of relaxing on her front porch while feeding any stray animal that crosses her path. Just when she thought she was fully retired, her phone rang the Friday before the 2018-2019 school year started. She was asked to come back for one last semester. This news excited many including her coworker Joshua Casburn.
“She is one of the most beloved teachers in this school,” Casburn said. “Through the years, she has changed the lives of many students. Her dedication and desire to make students’ lives better is irreplaceable.”
One of the many things she brings back from retirement with her is her stories. According to Pearlman, Murphdawg has an obsession with not just William Shakespeare but pens. One of the many stories told about Murphy is the time she was with Pearlman and she pulled out a bag filled with just pens of all different shapes and sizes.
“Mrs. Murphy and I share a fondness for pens,” Pearlman said. “I have certain pens that I like to grade with – but Mrs. Murphy absolutely loves pens. She has hundreds of them. We’ve had the same planning period, and I remember her opening one of her bags and showing me that that bottom was filled with pens – all different types, shapes, kinds. We’ve often joked about her pen addiction.”
According to one of her many students, Gunner Knox, she always has a great story to tell.
“She was one of the few teachers that I could have a normal, non-school-related talk with, and she told the best stories,” Knox said.
Murphy has always dreamed of being an educator ever since she was a little girl.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” Murphy said. “As a little girl, I had a school set up in my basement. I had a blackboard and a desk and I even had homework to grade. I also loved to read, so becoming an English teacher was a perfect fit.”
She has been living her dream of teaching for the past 21 years and it is finally coming to a close.
Throughout her 21 years of teaching at Batavia High School, she has taught a number of classes. The only class she has consistently taught every year is English II; however, she also has taught many others. Murphy told us another story about why she only teaches English II. In her beginning years as a teacher, she attempted to teach one creative writing class. However, she realized she didn’t have a natural talent in that area. Now she is teaching two courses outside of her comfort zone during her last semester here at Batavia High School.
“I did not have a chance to prepare,” Murphy said. “I was learning the course material during that Monday and Tuesday before classes began on Wednesday. I felt like the students trying to cram in as much information into those two days before the semester began as I could. My major field of study is English literature, so this has been a real learning curve.”
As you slowly stand up and push in your chair of nine weeks. The bell begins to ring, dismissing Film as Literature. Your class begins filing out of the door that Mrs. Murphy is holding. You hear her voice one last time as you pass by saying, “Don’t text and drive.” As you reminisce, a tear makes its way from the corner of your eye down to your cheek. You realize this is the last time Mrs. Murphy will ever teach at Batavia High School again.