When Andrew Murphy '14 started at Graceland, he had seen little of the world beyond the Midwest. In Lamoni, "the center of everywhere," he became friends with Hawaiian volleyball players who inspired him to travel. After a summer in South Korea with World Service Corps, he was on his way to being a global citizen serving the less fortunate.
HealthEd Connect invited Andrew, along with Lisa Ash ’09, Danica McLain Stoll '11 and Charles Persall ’80, to represent Graceland’s school of education in Zambia. Andrew saw the HealthEd Connect teams building schools and helping communities rise out of poverty. He saw the difference that compassionate, determined individuals can make in the world.
After graduating in 2014 as an elementary education major, Andrew joined Teach For America (TFA), a nonprofit aimed at mobilizing our country’s young leaders as educators and education advocates. Andrew was placed at George Washington Carver, a dual-language public school in Kansas City, Missouri, for his two-year commitment. But Andrew loved the job so much that he stayed with the school and is now teaching his third year. Not many college graduates aspire to teaching in an inner city dual-language school. In fact, the shortage of applicants has created the need for TFA’s two-year assignments to the schools in less desirable demographics. Driven to be better at his career, Andrew also completed a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Park University.
Last summer, Andrew went back to Zambia for HealthEd Connect on his own for two months. In the three years between his trips, Andrew had grown as an educator, and he became a mentor to Zambian teachers. He helped them with professional development and curriculum. “I came with a lot of expectations and ideas for helping students with math through games like playing cards,” Andrew shared. “But what took most of my time was something completely different. I ended up teaching
about science and diseases like AIDS and Tuberculosis in their elementary curriculum.”
Lauren Hall '85, Executive Director of HealthEd Connect, is grateful for Andrew’s contributions. “Andrew Murphy really made a difference in our schools last summer. They are in better shape right now than ever,” she said. “We were really fortunate to have him on our team there. With his ability to see what needs to be done and step up to the task, Andrew’s love for serving people is commendable.”
Andrew has a passion and conviction for helping others. His time in Zambia caused him to think more about how he can make a difference in the world and commit his life to teaching the most vulnerable populations. He hopes to travel to Argentina next, so he can improve his Spanish, which will help his parent-teacher conferences become deeper and more effective.
Andrew is grateful for the education and the life-changing opportunities he received at Graceland. The exceptional faculty support helped prepare Andrew for TFA and his master’s program. Michele Dickey-Kotz referred him to TFA during a classroom management course. Peggy Henson ’71 taught him reading and special ed classes. She was also the sponsor for the Graceland Student Education Association. “She really invested in me and opened up to me,” Andrew recalled. And now those experiences have come full circle, as Andrew – now a teacher himself – remains open to his students in Kansas City and around the world.