St. Joe’s Jenna Murphy: 2022 Mississippi History Teacher of the Year

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2022
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St. Joseph’s Jenna Murphy named 2022 Mississippi History Teacher of the Year


MADISON (Friday, July 29, 2022) – Jenna Murphy, a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School, has been named the 2022 Mississippi History Teacher of the Year – an annual award presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Murphy, a St. Joe alumna, now becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year Award. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.

“I am so honored to receive such a prestigious award,” Murphy said. “I love sharing our nation’s rich history with students so they have a better understanding and appreciation of today’s world. This reaffirms my dedication to teaching history.”

Murphy teaches anthropology, sociology, U.S. History II Honors and Advanced Placement U.S. History. She also sponsors the Youth Legislature program at St. Joe and is a past coach of the school’s academic competition team.

She is a 2006 graduate of the University of Mississippi and a 2009 graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law. She taught in Clinton public schools before returning to her alma mater to teach history in 2018.

St. Joseph Catholic School, founded in 1870 by the Sisters of Mercy, offers seventh- through 12th-grade students a rigorous college prep curriculum grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church. The school recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

St. Joe, 308 New Mannsdale Road in Madison, just west of the Interstate 55-Mississippi 463 interchange, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting arm of Cognia.

Dr. Dena Kinsey, principal of St. Joe, said the school is grateful that a St. Joe aluma like Murphy chose to share her gifts with students.

“Mrs. Murphy is an amazing educator who pushes her students to higher levels and holds them accountable for not only understanding the importance of knowing our history but also applying the lessons learned back then to the events of today,” Kinsey said.

Students also praised her. Zach Shelton, salutatorian for the St. Joe Class of 2022, thanked Murphy in his commencement speech.

“I have to say that without your expertise, I literally could not have written this speech or most of my other speeches for that matter, or gotten through Youth Legislature either time,” Shelton said. “Seriously, you are the best.”

The Gilder Lehrman Institute History Teacher of the Year Award honors one, exceptional, K-12 American history teacher from elementary through high school in each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. territories.

Murphy was nominated for the award twice, in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years.

“Knowledgeable and impassioned teachers bring our country's history to life for students, allowing them to understand engaging with history is about more than a series of facts,” said James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

“Teachers are the lifeblood of our students’ education, and these are the best of the best.”

Each state winner receives a $1,000 honorarium; an archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials; and formal recognition at a local ceremony. State winners also are eligible for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in October.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, lifelong supporters of American history education.

The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

“With classes ready to start on Monday, Aug. 8, receiving the honor of Mississippi History Teacher of the Year is a great way to kick off the new school year,” Murphy said. “I thank the Gilder Lehrman Institute of America for this honor.”