Joseph Murphy, Vanderbilt University

Joseph Murphy is the Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Education and Associate Dean at Peabody College of Education of Vanderbilt University. He has also been a faculty member at the University of Illinois and The Ohio State University, served as a public school administrator at the school, district, and state levels, and is a past Vice President and a Fellow of AERA. His work is in the area of school improvement, with special emphasis on leadership and policy. He has authored or co-authored 22 books in this area and edited another 12.

The Gift Giver

To unsettle and alloy that bewilderment with joy
To allow flight and provide an unseen scaffolding
—–of support
To hold tightly while letting go

To correct with precision and warmth
To reveal mysteries and provide ladders for
—–climbing to understanding

To challenge, to exhort, to demand
To push, to pull, to carry
To build, to empower
To respect and acknowledge, to ennoble

To place one’s own heart on the altar and one’s
—–own hands in the fire
To remember the forgotten

To feel, to share
To dance in celebration
To pass into the shadows

To teach

One Response to “Joseph Murphy, Vanderbilt University”

  1. Sonia Nieto 18. Jul, 2013 at 2:32 am #

    This poem sounds, in some parts, very similar to one that my husband, Angel Nieto, penned about 15 years ago when he was a teacher in Holyoke, MA. It’s been published in a number of places, including in one of my books, and has been given to many teachers over the years. I thought you’d like to see it. I’m copying it below in both English and Spanish.


    by Angel Nieto

    To be a teacher means
    to be a parent, a friend, a companion,
    a confidant, a nurse, a constant counselor.

    To be a teacher means
    To love, to cherish, to set an example,
    to respect.
    To push, to have patience (and to lose it),
    to forgive.
    To advise, to persevere, to be a friend,
    to listen.
    To explain, to apply, to not give up,
    to appreciate.

    To have charity and compassion,
    strength and determination,
    joyfulness and passion,
    passion and love
    for that madness
    which implies creation.

    To be a teacher means
    To stimulate, to encourage, to be humble,
    to reprimand.
    To repeat, to correct, to instill pride,
    to require.
    To fulfill, to impose, to laugh,
    to admire.
    To imagine, to mold, to care,
    to demand.
    To persist, to struggle, to dare,
    to understand

    To make rules and to break them,
    to mistrust the obvious
    to reject the comfortable
    to escape routine.
    To answer and to ask,
    always to ask,
    not paying attention
    to what people might say.

    To sleep a little and dream a lot,
    to dream asleep,
    and dream awake,
    always to dream and
    reach for the impossible.
    To learn, to share, to teach
    and to learn again.
    To discover, to shape, to achieve
    and then start all over again.

    Ser maestro es
    ser padre, hermano, amigo, compañero,
    confidente, enfermero, constante consejero.
    Ser maestro es:
    Amar, apreciar, dar ejemplo,
    Perseverar, tener paciencia (y perderla),
    Aconsejar, empujar, dar amistad,
    Explicar, aplicar, no dejarse derrotar

    caridad y compasión,
    firmeza y determinación,
    alegría y pasión
    mucha pasión y
    amor a esa locura
    que implica la creación.

    Ser maestro es:
    Repetir, corregir, dar orgullo,
    Estimular, animar, ser humilde,
    Comprender, reprender, ser atrevido,
    Imaginar, moldear, tener ganas,
    Insistir, sufrir, tener humor

    Hacer reglas y romperlas,
    no confiar en lo obvio
    descartar lo cómodo
    escapar de la rutina.
    Contestar y preguntar,
    siempre preguntar.
    No hacer caso al que dirán.

    Dormir poco y soñar mucho,
    soñar dormido, despierto soñar,
    siempre soñar y
    lo imposible buscar.
    Aprender, compartir, enseñar
    y aprender una vez más.
    Descubrir, formar, lograr
    y luego volver a empezar.

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