Teacher Stories: Andrea Murphy, Ocean Gate School, 3rd Grade
I’m one of six children, and we grew up on a farm in Massachusetts. We had lived in a city, but my dad always wanted a farm, and always wanted land and animals. So when I was in 3rd grade he finally went for it, and bought a farm. He told my siblings and me that we could have whatever animal we wanted when we moved to the farm. So I picked a cat. Before we knew it we had over 15 kittens. In fact, I got to see my cat have kittens under my bed on my birthday. That was such a great childhood memory. My dad, being from the city, really didn’t have a background in farming. So he really just learned as we went along. He built all our structures, like the barns, the corrals, the pens. He used wire that was a little bit too big for the chickens, so the first time our hen hatched all her babies they were able to get through the fence. That was a lot of fun trying to catch them all. It was all one big learning experience.
One day, my youngest sister came running into the kitchen and told my mom that our pig was ‘losing pieces.’ And when my mom got out there, she realized that our pig had piglets! We thought that there were two boy pigs in the pen! So that’s how we learned about piglets. We didn’t plan on that. But there was our pig – whom we started calling “Jane” – with all these babies and we had to learn how to take care of them.
Growing up on a farm we all got up early to do our chores. I would make sure that my horse went out for a walk before I got on the bus. Of course my dad was inspirational as far as making sure everyone was fed before he went to work. Of course we had to clean up after the animals, and if there was a storm, we had to make sure that they were fed and they had water and were safe. We grew up in Massachusetts, so the weather was a little crazy at times.
I have stayed in touch with people that I grew up with, over the last 10 years. My class has had pen pals with a neighbor to the farm that I had grown up on. She now teaches fourth grade. I teach third. And our classes are pen pals. But I have to really give my kids an education before they write to them because the kids we are writing to are farm kids. They’re not on the computer 24/7. Instead they’re taking care of the horses, and the other animals. So it’s a totally different mindset for my munchkins when they write to the other students in Massachusetts that they might not know the latest greatest video games.
Interview by Gregory Andrus
Portraits of the Jersey Shore