LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Tom Murphy

Position: Electronics and Engineering teacher
School: Waiakea High School
School District: Hawaii Public Schools
City, State: Hilo, HI

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Tom Murphy was nominated by an anonymous student.

"Loud, goofy, and insane. These are all words used to describe Mr. Murphy, also known as Murph" his nominator said. "The multiple classes I had with Murph are probably some of the most memorable experiences of my high school career. At the core of his Jim Carrey-esque personality is an excellent educator. This is the Murph that most people don't know. This version of Murph is creative, insightful, and a friend."

Electronics and information technology are subjects that everyone loves to hate; often times, they are very unforgiving. Things can go wrong at any stage in a process, whether it be a small error in a line of code, or something isn't soldered correctly in a board. As one should do when faced with adversity, Mr. Murphy teaches his students to tackle it head on. Mr. Murphy's gives his students various situations and errors to solve and work through, as well as hands-on interaction with different types of technology and programs.

Students are given the content and materials needed to solve a problem. Then, they are let loose to solve and work through a task with little help. This laissez-faire style of teaching definitely fosters a classroom environment that emphasizes creativity, and being given the opportunity to fail, fail, and fail some more gives students the opportunity to grow and learn. In its little own way, this teaching style prepares students for any adversity they may face.

Having formerly worked in the IT field prior to teaching, and having a special passion for technology, Mr. Murphy is able to give valuable insight. Through conversation and assigned career research, students are able to explore fields they plan to enter.

"Personally, after doing this research and talking to him, I have been able to reevaluate and change my future plans for the better," said the nominator. "Having this personal information that goes beyond what I hear and read online has been a huge help for me. The insight Murph offers has definitely changed my present and influenced my future."

A big part of effective classroom learning is mutual respect, which is definitely given between both Mr. Murphy and his students. While the mutual normal classroom respect is there, it goes deeper. Mr. Murphy understands the pressures of high school. Because of this, he is able to serve his students better. He understands everyone has off days, and that school can get boring. To combat this, he spices the classroom up and keeps his students going with banter between himself and the class that reaches levels right below "heated." Mr. Murphy uses mandatory breaks where students can watch "epic fails" on YouTube, and he holds classroom contests on various virtual reality games. He spices up the most boring days and serves as a positive "lawful chaos" that students didn't know they needed. He also understands that not every student has a place. Being a black sheep himself, his classroom serves as a place for those who need a place. Mr. Murphy maintains his title of "teacher," while being a friend.

"It can't be denied that he makes positive long term and short term change for the lives of his students," said his nominator.


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