Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Murphy Family


I visited the Murphy school as they were prepping for the holidays. As I walked into the building I was warmly welcomed by a staff member and then directed to the principal ‘s office. As I sat on the bench waiting for principal Karen Cahill, I watched as many parent volunteers were packaging coffee cakes that were ordered by BPS Families – with all profits benefitting the school.

“Ms. Cahill is ready to see you,” said Caroline Cahill (no relation), a staff assistant at the school. While I gathered my things and started to walk towards her office, a mom with two of her kids was walking out the door with smiles and wishing everyone a happy holiday. 

“Hi, Thelma,” said Ms. Cahill. “Thanks for visiting our school. Have a seat.” As I sat down she offered me water and chocolate. I asked her about some of the great things happening at the Murphy.  Ms. Cahill started by saying that the Murphy has a strong sense of community.  “We all really enjoy working together, and we are very much like a family.” I noticed a cute holiday card on the desk written by a student for Ms. Cahill. It read:

A Poem For You

You keep me safe
You love me like no other
Are you sure you are not related to my mother?
You are very pretty
And wicked smart too...
When I get older
I am gonna marry you.
But for now I am little
That much is true
But my very big heart
Sure does love you !

“This card is from a student that attends the school. They were the ones meeting with me before you came,” noted Ms. Cahill.

Ms. Cahill then told me a story of how people at the school came together in time of need.  George Daukantas is a paraprofessional who has been working at the Murphy for 14 years. “George is part of the Murphy family. We value all that he does for the school and students. He has a great work ethic and loves being a valued member of the community,” said Ms. Cahill.

When staff members heard that George lost his sister (his only living family member) and could not afford to ship her body or bury her in Massachusetts, they were there to lend a helping hand. Staff members Susan Faherty, Anne Cuddy, Caroline Cahill, Janice Tkacik, and  Christine Feeney initiated a donation fund to help George. George was able to give his sister a proper burial service.

I asked if I could meet George and the staff members who had helped him. Principal Cahill called them all into the office and said, “I just told Thelma how the staff at the school helped you and she asked to meet you and the staff.” George turned towards me and said, “Yes, I can tell people in Washington or New York how much they have helped my sister and me. I am deeply grateful.”

I then asked George if it was okay to take a picture of him and the staff, “Yes, I would like to be between the Cahills,” said George with a smile. Everyone started to laugh.

When I finally left the principal’s office, I noticed that I, too, was walking out with a smile. I was touched by the generosity and great hospitality at the school.

1 comment:

Erik Merksamer said...

Fantastic article! Truly, there are few places quite as special as the Murphy.

I'd like to add another account of the Murphy hospitality. I've only been teaching there for 2 years, but recently was completely overwhelmed by the enormous love demonstrated to my family. When my wife had to be hospitalized for a very serious Lupus flare the week before Christmas, our principal Karen Cahill made sure that love would be on the loose. Without my knowing, she helped organize the staff creating all kinds of support. Staff from all three floors of the Murphy were providing meals for my children and I, inspirational cards were being written daily, and babysitting arrangements established in abundance. I had to bring my 4 year old son with me to school, and staff treated him like he was a Murphy prince. Each day that my wife was in the hospital, the Murphy community smothered us with compassion. That was simply incredible!

Yet, even after I had already cried enough tears of gratitude, a greater outpouring happened. On the Friday before break, I was summoned to the office before dismissal. I joked with Principal Cahill that "she had better not make me cry anymore." She assured me (with her fingers crossed) that she wouldn't. I was led to the meeting room. Gathered there were all the administrators and several teachers. They presented to me an overflowing table of Christmas presents, saying, "we wanted to make sure your children have a special Christmas in spite of the circumstances." I could barely stand. Then grocery bags entered the room filled with everything a family could imagine for a Christmas feast: ham, sides, deserts, and all. Seriously, I could barely stand. I was trembling from this powerful display of affection.

The newly remade film "Les Miserables" ends with the saying, "to love another person is to see the face of God." That is why the Murphy K-8 School is a sacred place to learn or serve in.