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home : news : news Tuesday, January 16, 2018

5/17/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Top teachers got there by indirect route
Bertolino, Murphy earn Masons’ annual honors
Central DeWitt teachers Julie Murphy and Theron Bertolino love the work they do.

But to win an award for it?

That was something neither of them ever expected.

Recently, members of the Brothers of Crossroads Masonic Lodge No. 677 in DeWitt held their annual education night.

They honored Murphy and Bertolino as the 2017 Teachers of the Year - Murphy as New Teacher of the Year, and Bertolino as Veteran Teacher of the Year.

"I really don't know how I got singled out for this," said Bertolino, who teaches math at Central DeWitt Middle School, where he has worked for the entirety of his almost 26-year career. "I was surprised. There are a lot of teachers who are better than I am."

Murphy teaches language arts, honors language arts, publications (including the school newspaper and yearbook), a humanities class called "Changes and Choices," and she is a resource teacher

She was equally amazed - and extremely flattered.

"I was in the middle of class, and [high school principal] George Pickup asked me if I had a second," she said with a smile. "We stepped out into the hall and he said, 'I just wanted to shake your hand, because you're the New Teacher of the Year.' I was totally blown away ... and so grateful. It was amazing."

Each educator was awarded an engraved apple and money to use as they wish for their classrooms.

Uncertainty led to education

Bertolino admitted he wasn't sure when he was in college just what career path to pursue.

Someone suggested giving teaching a try.

"They said try doing a field experience, and see how you like it," he related. "And I did it, and I liked it, and I just kept on going."

Bertolino credits a first-rate student teaching experience at Lyons Middle School in Clinton for reinforcing his decision to educate others.

"The teachers I worked with were good," he said. "I learned a lot from them."

Murphy said she wound up at Central DeWitt by chance.

Originally from Malvern, Pennsylvania, Murphy met the man who would become her husband, Tyler, in Hawaii, where they were working with at-risk teens.

Tyler was a Central DeWitt graduate, and after living in Hawaii, then Colorado, the couple planned to make a "pit stop" in Tyler's hometown of DeWitt in the fall of 2014.

Murphy began substitute teaching, mainly at the high school, and fell in love with both the students and the school district.

"A position became available, I applied, I got it, and have been here ever since," she said with a smile. "It's been an adventure."

Teaching a team effort

Both Murphy and Bertolino say doing their jobs would be far more difficult, if not for the help of others.

"I couldn't do this without everybody else," Bertolino said. "There is a mentality you have to have to teach kids this age, and all the teachers here at this school have that. They all support each other, and support me. I have a great administration behind me and great parents of my students who support this school."

Murphy is grateful to her husband, her teaching coach, Carla Wall, and many others for enabling her to do what she loves in a school that she loves.

"I want to thank my students, who show up every day ready and willing to learn," Murphy said. "I also wouldn't be able to achieve my goals without the support of my family and friends in Pennsylvania. Even though I'm not geographically close to them, we're incredibly close at heart and they absolutely support me in all my endeavors.

"I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life, and to have added to my community when I moved to DeWitt."

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