LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jean Ellen Murphy

Position: English & Literacy 6th Grade Teacher
School: Community Health Academy of the Heights
School District: New York City Department of Education, District 6
City, State: Manhattan, NY

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Jean Ellen Murphy was nominated by her friend, Tracy Bashara.

Ms. Murphy's career started out with her working in various roles. Most notably, she was a founding partner in a 90’s startup and helped grow a business that is still going today. Her focus was on sales and marketing, and due to her likable personality, she always succeeded in her approach. Ms. Murphy could easily win people over, but it never seemed to truly satisfy her as a person.

When her mom was diagnosed with ALS, Mrs. Murphy stepped back from her career and became her mom’s full-time caregiver to help her through this disease. After her mom passed away in 2005, she decided this was an opportunity to make a difference. Following in the footsteps of her late mom, Ms. Murphy went back to school to get her degree in education. Soon after that, she was hired as an English & Literacy teacher at Community Health Academy of the Heights (CHAH) and has been there for the last ten years.

The past ten years have been life changing, not only for her, but for the faculty and students of CHAH. She connects with her students in the most unique ways, such as by wearing a unicorn head to grab their attention. She is funny, but tough, and the students tend to respect her for that. There are two stories that stand out, however, when talking about Ms. Murphy.

As part of her English curriculum, Ms. Murphy teaches her sixth grade students how to write effective, grammatically correct letters. She takes it one step further and has her students use these letters to help fundraise for the annual ALS Ride for Life, a four mile walk-a-thon. Each year, the students send out letters to help fundraise up until the class walks together across the Brooklyn Bridge. The students aren't only learning about writing and grammar, but they're also learning about how to help others and give back to those who need it at the same time.

The second story is when Ms. Murphy went the extra mile and applied for a grant that has optometrists come into school to conduct an eye exam on the entire school body. Mrs. Murphy saw the need, so she applied for and was awarded the grant. Therefore, around 600 students were given an eye exam, and around 60% needed some vision assistance.