Riley Murray figures that teaching is the only job she’s ever considered. Both of her parents are in education (her mother, Dana, teaches at Millsboro Middle School, and her father, Bennett, is an assistant principal at John M. Clayton Elementary School).
As Murray was finishing her sophomore year of high school at Indian River High School, she has also been preparing for a major milestone this summer: representing Delaware at a national teaching conference in Orlando, Fla. This is IR’s first year with the Educators Rising program, but Murray earned a spot at the 2018 national conference, which will take place June 21-24.
The Educators Rising organization helps future teachers learn about the job and chart a course forward. More than 20 competitive events allow students to develop and showcase their teaching skills, in public speaking, lesson-planning, writing, creativity and more.
“I think it’s pretty amazing that someone from Sussex County, that we get to represent … Educators Rising at such a huge competition. It’s a great way to get IR out there,” Murray said. “Even though we’re small, we do good stuff.”
She’ll get to compete, attend workshops, meet students from across the nation and hear from keynote speakers, including the U.S. Teacher of the Year.
Although the state competition was in February, students held their breath for final results until the state conference in March. IRHS students won several awards, but Murray was proud to earn gold.
For her speechmaking competition, each student speaks up to four minutes about a teacher who inspired them to become an educator. Murray talked about a beloved Lord Baltimore Elementary School teacher, Mary Kreger, whose classroom, she said, was more “like a family than an actual class. … She just made it more inclusive,” Murray said.
Educators Rising is like the club component of IR’s regular education career program. But students can join the club even if they’re not enrolled in “Teacher Academy” courses, which are part of a formal career program to train future educators.
“It’s open to everyone. … They should try it,” said Murray. “I’m seeing a lot of good qualities, leadership-wise. It’s pretty easy finding officers and dedication” in the fledgling club, she said.
Teacher and club advisor Megan Hines helped coach Murray and the others.
“She does step back and lets her officers run the club, which is how it should be,” Murray said.
Besides competing, the club mentored children at John M. Clayton Elementary School; fundraised for Teacher Appreciation Week; and hid rocks with inspirational messages around IRHS.
But now somewhat alone, Murray is facing the same challenge that other clubs share: fundraising. She’s turning to the local community to help send her to Orlando. Anyone wishing to contribute toward her travel and competition expenses can contact IR guidance counselor Stephanie Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 732-1500.
As an added challenge, Hines is on maternity leave, so Murray’s father was certified as her school-sanctioned chaperone, although he will pay his own travel expenses.
“It’s a first-year program, and we’ve already qualified someone for nationals,” said Wilkinson. This will give IR a leg up to experience high-level competition. “It’s an incredible experience for these students.”
By Laura Walter