Walpole High School (WHS) English Teacher and Speech and Debate Team Coach Emily Murray was commended by the Walpole Teachers Association (WTA) for the annual Honor Award, a recognition for a teacher who demonstrates excellence and service to the community. Murray will attend an award ceremony and dinner on June 5 where she will be formally recognized for her achievement.
"Each year, the executive board meets and nominates WTA members who they believe have gone above and beyond what is expected from a teacher," Dave Cuzzi, WTA President, said. "Every year, there are many deserving teachers, and all of our members go above and beyond, so it is very hard to decide on just one."
For a teacher to be eligible for the Honor Award, they must be a member of the WTA and be nominated by another person; then, the Norfolk County Teachers Association (NCTA) passes the nomination. Murray was recognized for her commitment to the Speech and Debate Team, a club she started and has coached for the past seven years.
"What stood out about [Murray] was the fact the she took a small club with no funding and turned it into one of the more successful clubs we have at the high school," Cuzzi said. "The students are achieving and succeeding at rates that would not be possible without her dedication. She gives up weekends and countless nights in order to support her students."
Murray received a letter congratulating her for winning the Honor Award; however, her official recognition will be in June. (Photo/ Emily Murray)
Murray, a Natick High School alumna, graduated summa cum laude from Regis College and then attended Simmons College to receive her Masters of Art in Teaching. The following year, Murray began working at WHS as an English teacher.
Her passion for teaching was one that took root from a young age: she often played teacher using a small whiteboard in front of her stuffed animals as a child. Murray, who was involved in both theater and a speech team when in high school, thought that starting a team at WHS could function as a creative outlet for outspoken or theatrical students.
Murray with senior Speech and Debate Team members Ellen Irmiter and Riley Mulroy after the annual Holly Festival at Natick High School last December. (Photo/ Emily Murray)
"Besides teaching, theater is my other passion, so when I realized that becoming a famous actress was a pipe dream, I decided to blend both passions and spread my love for performing to my students," Murray said.
According to Murray, since the team's debut seven years ago, they have made significant improvements. What originally started as a fun activity for students has transformed into an award-winning team.
"Each year, we keep breaking records. We placed 3rd as a school at the Revere tournament, 6th at the Needham tournament and 9th at the state tournament," Murray said. "Two debate students—Reshma Abraham and Lindsay Navick—are the first two students to qualify in debate for the two national tournaments."