Laura Murphy has taught kindergarten at North Augusta Elementary School since 1999.
When she was growing up, she said, the main choices for women were secretarial, nursing and education. Her mother taught school for 43 years and so she has continued the family tradition.
She graduated from Augusta College and moved to Atlanta. After teaching for a bit, she went on to study how to age cheese, roast coffee and select wines prior to owning two wine and cheese shops in Atlanta.
When she isn’t teaching, Murphy enjoys walking, reading, flower gardening and watching Duke basketball.
Q: Have you always taught kindergarten?
A: When I married and moved to Atlanta, I taught third grade, and my first years teaching in Richmond County I taught second grade. Since I left retail and came back to teaching I have been teaching kindergarteners, and I love it. It’s just the most fabulous age.
Q: Why did you choose to teach kindergarten?
A: Janet Vaughan, who is the principal at Hammond Hill, she was a kindergarten teacher and had just been promoted to assistant principal. So, I came in and took her position.
Q: What is your favorite thing to teach kindergartners?
A: Reading. For them to be able to learn how to put letters and sounds together, it’s just the most fascinating thing to see them understand how to take a word and break it apart. You always talk about the light pops on in their eyes and they just become like ferocious, wanting to come in and get a book immediately when they come in here. It is fabulous that they just can’t wait to get a new book in their hand to read.
Q: What is the hardest thing for them to learn?
A: Probably at this age, it’s very hard for them to have self-discipline. It’s not always easy to have self-discipline, but ... you see them mature during the year and you see them become more aware of structure and having to be able to stay within that structure and do the rules. They are so proud when they do the rules.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The interaction with the children, the love and the hugs that you get because they are so happy to be here. It makes you love your job that much more because you see how the children are so happy to be here and that makes everything worthwhile. Then, the appreciation from so many parents when they see how much their child has grown during the year.
Q: What is the funniest thing a pupil has said?
A: I will tell you, they are honest, and they are going to say whatever is happening at home. They are innocent, they are going to say exactly the truth, whether it’s something you necessarily want to hear or not, it is going to be the truth. That’s something that’s wonderful about this age is the honesty.
Q: What is your hardest challenge as a teacher?
A: The hardest challenge is to make sure that we always incorporate differentiated instruction, because in a classroom you have children of all levels of learning abilities, and to make sure that you are reaching all the levels you should reach with each child.
Q: Do you get the summer off?
A: Normally, teachers every summer go back for recertification or to get more advanced degrees. These are things that pretty much you are required to do. Every so many years you have to recertify your certificate or you might teach summer school. This summer, hopefully, I’ll be teaching or tutoring, or I’m taking two classes. And, you come down early to rework your room so probably in the beginning of July you are here getting your room ready for August, so it’s less than people think. You might have four weeks, at max.
Q: What is a future goal?
A: To continue to learn. Technology is such a fabulous invention for all of us. We are fortunate at North Augusta Elementary that every classroom has SMART Boards in them. I want to continue to take more courses on technology and SMART Board.
Q: What is the best part about working at NAES?
A: I love the environment of the school, I like the layout of the school and, of course, I love my fellow teachers, administrators, custodial staff and lunchroom staff. I feel fortunate to be in a school that I feel comfortable with every level of person here.