Mr. William Murphy: 55 Years Of Inspiration

IMG_1335Recently I had the honor of sitting down and interviewing Mr. William Neil Murphy, a longtime Social Studies teacher here at Hanover High School. Mr. Murphy started working here back in 1961, and when I asked how he choose to work at Hanover, he replied, “It more or less chose me”. When he was still in Harvard and looking for his first teaching job, his professor hadn’t understood why he hadn’t yet been offered one. The professor’s wife worked in admissions and asked if Mr. Murphy had tried Hanover, later a teacher took a year off and so Mr. Murphy took the job as a Social Studies Teacher at Hanover High School. Not long after a school from New York called him telling him he had gotten a job offer, but because Mr. Murphy didn’t know, he decided to stay in Hanover.

He ended up moving with his wife into a Summer Street apartment and was offered a full-time job. This led to him being offered a job as the director of the summer school, so Mr. Murphy agreed and took on the challenge of both teaching and being the director. This didn’t last though, eventually deciding to just take on the role as the director or principal in addition to teaching during the school year. Mr. Murphy describes the students who attended as “losers” at school but once they were there they became “winners.”The goal of the school was to help promote self image for the students. The expectations for the students were clear and outlined in a contract between the summer school and the school they attended during the school year.

The summer school classes were much smaller, usually holding five to ten students, allowing them to get direct feedback and the attention they needed from the teachers. Not only that but a stronger bond was able to be made between students, teachers, and of course Mr. Murphy. One returning student told Mr. Murphy that he liked the summer school better because the teachers were nice. That same student ended up having to go to the hospital in the middle of the summer school and when he was leaving he asked Mr. Murphy what would happen if he couldn’t finish. Mr. Murphy told him not to worry. Not only were the teachers close with the students but strong friendships formed between them. A lot of the time students would encourage each other to keep trying and do whatever they could to help each other. Some students would even go to the houses of others who weren’t at school that day to make sure everything was okay, and if they could they would get them to go to the second half of the day so that they may still earn credits that day.

Of course Mr. Murphy has inspired plenty of students but he doesn’t take the credit, he actually gives it to his late Karen Obermeyer Murphy, also known as Kay. He explains that “[she] made it possible to teach”. Being able to go home to a hot meal every night, and bringing a packed lunch to work everyday with a little note inside is what made him so inspired. Karen was more than just his wife, she was a mother and not to only her children, but to students as well. One time when a basketball practice was running into the night, Karen brought a dinner to the school,Karen, Mr. Murphy, and the girls basketball team, who pushed desks together to form a dinner table and had “a family dinner” right there in the school.

Articles about Mr. Murphy and his wife have been published in the Broadside before, on Valentine’s day he had written her a letter and submitted it along with a photo of them on their wedding day, which made the front page of the Broadside. He explains as he begins to tear up, that after the passing of his wife, he took the same letter and read it at her funeral.

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