September 12, 2007 Edition

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Altha Murphy Award instituted
at Imboden Area Charter School

Imboden Area Charter School Director Judy Warren (center) shows Jordan Tyler Cullum his name on a plaque honoring him as the first recipient of the Altha Murphy Award. Murphy (right) recently retired as the school's special education teacher.

Imboden Area Charter School (IACS) Director Judy Warren, has announced the initiation of an award named for Altha Murphy. Murphy, who recently retired, had served as special education teacher since the school's inception.

"This new award recognizes the 'Most Improved Student' for each academic year and has been named the 'Altha Murphy Award' in honor of Ms. Murphy," Warren said.

The first award was presented at the May Awards and Graduation Ceremony to Jordan Tyler Cullum, son of Mike and Ann Brady of Walnut Ridge. Warren has mounted an engraved plaque at the school with Jordan's name on it, and each succeeding year, another name will be added.

Warren praised Murphy as one of the original supporters of the charter school helping with ideas for the original charter.

"Ms. Murphy had experience in a one-room school, as well as in an experimental ungraded primary unit," Warren said, "so she was uniquely qualified with her vision of each child progressing at his/her own rate."

"My whole philosophy of education was that special children need to be allowed to learn at their own rate, and I found this environment at IACS," Murphy said. "This is the only school in my 47 years in education where special needs kids were accepted just like everyone else and had no stigma related to their unique learning pace."

Murphy went on to reminisce about her 20 years of teaching special needs children saying, "My main joy in teaching these special kids is to see the light in their eye when they grasp a concept and say, 'I have self-worth, I am somebody.' That makes it all worthwhile."

Warren praises Murphy's ability to work with the classroom teachers to help the students and recognizes that the amount of inclusion in the regular class of her students was much more than at any other school.

"She was also a mentor for five of our new teachers who learned so much from her experience," Warren said. "She has given 47 years of her life to kids, and we are so fortunate to have had five of those years at IACS."

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