THE BEST TEACHER IN AMERICA?

Dr. Murray is nominated as an inductee in the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

April 15, 2019

To the board!” says Dr. Murray as students clamor out of their seats to try to be the first ones up. Murray reads the problem aloud and the students copy it down on the board or their notebook. “First one done gets a cookie!” They look over their notes, work together and use what they have been taught to finish the problem quickly and correctly. After a few minutes, one student has earned their cookie. This is the daily routine in the classroom of Dr. Murray.

Dr. Mary Murray has been teaching students for 49 years. Here at Suncoast, she is best known for her extensive mathematics knowledge and desire to help students succeed. Murray began her teaching career in 1970, teaching high school, then transitioning to a college teacher. She spent her nights and summers working hard to achieve her master’s degree to be able to teach at Flagler College. After three years at Flagler, she studied at Florida State University and got her Ph.D. in one year. After earning her Ph.D., Murray went on to teach at Northeast Missouri State University. This year, Murray was nominated to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF), located in Emporia, Kansas.

Not only is Murray an excellent teacher, she is a fantastic coach. Outside of the classroom, she was a women’s basketball coach at Flagler and Northeast Missouri State University, now known as Truman State University.
Murray said, “My first goal in my lifetime was I wanted to be an Olympic Women’s Basketball coach.”

Murray’s love for sports led her to coach college basketball and softball for 12 years, from 1973 to 1985. At Northeast Missouri State University, a Division II sports college, sports was the players’ top priority and this disappointed Murray, she said, “[her] desire to help students learn made [her] return to being a high school teacher, this time in Miami.” When she returned to high school to teach math, she also coached softball and volleyball. In Miami, her softball team came second in the state, and she was named Softball Coach of the Year. Here at Suncoast, she coached boys and girls volleyball.

Sophomore Nikayla Henry stated, “I love how she’s very interactive with the class and helps us to succeed.”

The minimum requirement to be nominated for a spot in the National Teachers Hall of Fame is 20 years. She competed against one teacher from every school in America with over 20 years of teaching experience. Thousands of teachers were nominated this year, but only 20 went on to the second round of selection. Five winners were chosen out of the thousands of submitted entries.

On March 15, 2019, Murray was presented the award. She received a plaque inscribed with her name, a sash, and flowers. She also earned a permanent spot in the Hall of Fame, a week-long trip to Washington DC and a week-long induction ceremony in Kansas.

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