Alice Murphy may be retired from teaching in the school district, where she worked for 35 years, but still can’t get enough of educating: she teaches fitness classes at Gold’s Gym multiple times a week.
“I'm a person who likes to learn and that's what teaching is: you're learning and you're teaching … Once a teacher, always a teacher,” Murphy said.
Murphy hopes to bring her background as a teacher, a parent of MCSD-educated children and a community volunteer to the District C seat on the school board. (Current District C representative Gayle Johnson, also a retired teacher, has reached the limit of serving two consecutive terms.)
Murphy decided to throw her hat into the ring because some of her friends, also current and former teachers, thought she would be good for the job.
While a teacher at Olathe Elementary School, Murphy was involved with the school beyond the walls of her classroom. She served on a textbook adoption team and piloted the new statewide testing program, CSAP, when it was first administered in 1997.
Murphy also worked as a trainer for her fellow teachers on a new writing program and served on the student intervention team.
If elected, she said that her priorities align with many of the newly adopted board goals for the 2021-22 school year, including raising the standardized testing scores that decreased during the pandemic.
While average scores in the district dropped compared to 2019 and lagged behind statewide averages, participation rates across the district were significantly higher than in the rest of the state.
Murphy said that when she was a teacher, she enjoyed delving into data from the tests of groups of students to improve her teaching.
“I know testing is just one point in time,” Murphy said, “But I'm looking at groups of students when I look at the data and analyzing what are the things that I need to teach more with the kids, and what are the skills that we're missing that I might need to hit harder next year.”
If elected to the board, Murphy said she would listen to the public and apply her problem-solving approach to do what’s best for the students.
“You have to listen to everyone's voice; you have to be a good listener, because everybody's coming to the table with something that they're very passionate about something that they believe,” Murphy said. “As a school board person, you have to listen to other people — and you have to hear both sides. If you don't understand, then you do the research. Then, from what they're telling you and the research that you're doing, you can somehow come up with decisions for the schools.”
Murphy said that she agrees with a mask policy not being mandated in the school district, but if the board would need to make another decision in the future, she said she would listen to local medical professionals as well as state and national agencies.
“I'm going to listen to what they say because they are trained in that field and they know what they're talking about,” Murphy said.
If she doesn’t win the election, she still wants to stay involved and will continue to attend school board meetings.
“I do love this school system and I don't want it to go in a direction that is not going to help kids — bottom line is they have to be doing things for kids, not just parents,” Murphy said.