Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2011 Alumni Washington Fellow
Bio/Overview: Woods-Murphy is a Gifted and Talented Specialist in the Nutley School District. Following a year promoting collaboration with educators across New Jersey as the 2010 State Teacher of the Year, Woods-Murphy spent her year as a 2011 Teaching Ambassador Fellow working primarily with Secretary Duncan’s Senior Advisor for Labor/Management collaboration and designing direct outreach to teachers. As a 2012 Washington Fellow, Woods-Murphy organized 18 Teaching Ambassador Fellows to support the Department’s landmark Labor Management Collaboration Summit in Cincinnati and participated on the U.S. Team at the Department’s International Summit to Elevate the Teaching Profession. She has taught Spanish at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey. After completing her undergraduate education, Woods-Murphy spent four years in Salamanca, Spain with her husband, where she taught English as a second language. This experience inspired her to become a Spanish teacher upon her return to the states. Prior to her employment in Allendale, New Jersey, Woods-Murphy worked in a variety of roles in New York City schools: she taught Spanish andlanguage arts at various grade levels, and also worked as a Multicultural Coordinator and an Academic Coordinator. In addition, for ten years, Woods-Murphy was a founding teacher at Bergen Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey, where she coordinated the World Language Department and was deeply immersed in Project Based Learning.
Educational Values/Philosophy: A key component of Woods-Murphy’s educational philosophy is connecting students to opportunities that emanate from their interests. Woods-Murphy believes that students should be empowered with research and academic skills that connect to their lives, their peers and global issues. As a Gifted and Talented Specialist, she collaborates with classroom teachers to optimize student talent. Currently, Woods-Murphy works in a hybrid role as a designer of instruction for students and professional learning for her colleagues. Her doctoral work on teacher leadership emanated from a rock-solid belief that educational change must be led by talented and insightful teachers who understand best what students need.
Achievements: Woods-Murphy is the 2009-2010 New Jersey Teacher of the Year. In 2010, she was named the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language Teacher of the Year and a Horace Mann Teaching Excellence winner for 2011. Woods-Murphy was the N.J. New Leader’s Council, Person of the Year as well as a Global Learning Fellow. In 2010 Senator Bob Menendez awarded her an “Evangelina Menendez, Woman of Distinction” in honor of his inspirational mother. From 2012-2015, Woods-Murphy was a member of the cohort of the America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals.
Leadership Experience: Throughout her career, Woods-Murphy has been a presenter for a variety of education topics, including cultural learning, language acquisition, and technology as it relates to 21st century culture and social justice. Having participated in roundtable discussions, workshops, and regular media appearances (including a CBS education feature with Katie Couric), Woods-Murphy is experienced with community engagement in many different contexts. Currently, she directs a conference for teens called “Teens Talk About Racism” www.teens-talk-about-racism.org, held each May at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck.
Affiliations: Woods-Murphy is a Director on the Board of the National Education Association Foundation, where she is also the Co-Chair of Innovation. She sits on the Board of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, where she heads the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. In addition, she is a member of several professional associations: The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ), The National Network of State Teachers of the Year, The New Jersey Council of State Teachers of the Year, the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, the National Education Association and the New Jersey Education Association.
Education: Woods-Murphy earned her Bachelor’s degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Montclair State University with a double major in Philosophy and General Humanities, after which she received a diploma from La Universidad de Salamancain Salamanca, Spain. Woods-Murphy earned her New York State certification in New York City, where she taught upon her return from Spain, though a program sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers. She went on to earn an MA in Spanish Literature at Montclair State University, with a year of additional coursework at CUNY, the Graduate Center, where she was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship. She received her Ed.D in Teacher Leadership from Walden University in 2016, after publishing her doctoral study on “Perceptions about highly recognized teachers about approaches to teacher leadership.”
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Labor management
- Talent development
- Language education, International/cross cultural education
- Race relations work with youth
- Veteran Teacher Issues