by John Houle
After 30 years, speech pathologist Kathy Murphy is retiring at the end of the school year. Despite leaving the district, Murphy will still be continuing her work at a different place.
“Over the summer,” Murphy said, “I plan on working at the Ely Center, where I will continue to work with students in the same way I do here.”
One benefit the Ely Center has to offer is more free time because Murphy will only work one day a week.
“I plan on using my free time to train for marathons,” Murphy said. “My goal is the Iron Man triathlon.”
Despite her love for her work, Murphy had different plans in the beginning.
“I initially wanted to be a math teacher,” Murphy said, “but the difficulties in getting a teaching job in the 80s caused my advisor to advise me to go into speech pathology.”
Murphy took the advice, and her teacher for those classes, Anna Cohen, solidified her opinion.
“I loved what Anna was doing with disabled students,” Murphy said. “She knew how to give students with limitations a fulfilling life.”
Murphy then began working in Hudson Public Schools. Murphy ultimately worked at every school except for Farley.
“My favorite school is the high school,” Murphy said, “because it was the school I spent the most time at.”
One of Murphy’s accomplishments at the high school was the establishment of the Friday Night Out program. Murphy got the idea in 2013 while meeting with students.
“One thing I noticed during my meetings with students,” Murphy said, “was that students didn’t do much during weekends, so I set out to rectify that.”
“I am happy to see Friday Night Out grow and become successful,” Murphy said, “culminating in the Party Bus trip in May.”
Murphy has also worked in the preschool located in the high school. Murphy admits to feeling more at home at the preschool level.
“While working at the preschool, I got the ability to co-teach,” Murphy said, “which allowed me to see the kids more and know the students better.”
One of the challenges she faced when she worked in the preschool was getting accreditation.
“Accreditation was a stressful time,” Murphy said, “as we had to fill out paperwork and have frequent visits from the Office of Children’s Services.”
The visits introduced new techniques to Murphy.
“The Office of Children’s Services allowed children to make more choices in playtime,” Murphy said. “It made them them better decision makers in the future.”
Murphy also learned new techniques at the high school.
“Over time, my strategies integrated more with the curriculum,” Murphy said, “which made more sense than playing games, which was what I did before.”
Murphy also implemented social thinking and social mapping, learning styles that help students establish relationships, an essential skill.
While Murphy’s experience at the district wasn’t perfect, she sees her experience as overall positive.
“There’s a lot I’m going to miss,” Murphy said. “I’ll miss the people I met and the routine I established.”