This post is part of ACE’s Teacher of the Year blog series.
I am pleased to nominate Greeley Central High School’s Liz Mock-Murphy for ACE Teacher of the Year.
Liz has been an amazing ally of ACE’s from the very beginning. Most importantly, she has been an incredible teacher, faculty sponsor, and general support system to her students at Greeley Central.
Liz began teaching 21 years ago and was hired at Greeley Central in 2007 after taking time off to raise her two young children and then doing a stint as a Trim Carpenter for a year while she waited for the right teaching job to open up in Greeley. Teaching is a passion that she was introduced to over twenty five years earlier while doing a service project at a Palestinian girls’ school on the West Bank of Israel for a semester. Liz has a knack for educating and mentoring young people; a knack that the students of her Earth Systems, Geology, and AP Environmental Science classes can attest to.
No one is more appreciative of Liz than the Green Cats – Greeley Central’s Action Team. When Liz first invited ACE to Greeley Central in the spring of 2010, some of her students approached her after the saying they wanted to start an Action Team. With the help of ACE, Liz organized all of the interested students and helped them complete their very first project: an end of the year sustainable locker cleanout! – recycling over 25 bins of paper and saving numerous pens, clothes, and rulers from winding up unnecessarily in the landfill.
But Liz and the Green Cats didn’t stop there! The team only grew stronger! They took on a myriad of projects including systematically reducing waste in the school’s cafeteria, implementing money-saving, low-flow toilets in the bathrooms, selling reusable water bottles to their peers, and, along with other Colorado high schools, organizing a student-led rally in Denver aimed at banning single-use plastic bags. Perhaps most notably, the Green Cats also won ACE’s 2011 national Biggest Loser Energy Competition and were awared a $1,000 grant.
The Green Cats aren’t the only ones with an impressive resume. Last school year alone, Liz was awarded the school’s Outstanding Scholar Sponsor award, the school board’s Shining Star Teacher Award, and the City Council’s Environmental Stewardship Award. Yet even with all of these accolades, it is obvious that Liz’s greatest source of pride is her students.
Speaking about the Green Cats, Liz admitted, “My favorite part about my job? Easy. It’s working with these amazingly passionate and creative students.” She insists that not only are they amazing kids, but they’re also incredibly humble. And perhaps most importantly, they’re also like family. Liz fondly remembers the group’s Christmas party, which included a gift exchange, food, and an intense popsicle stick war. “This is precisely why the group works”, explains Liz. “It’s not all about business; it’s about relationships.”
Liz understands that a happy team equals a healthy team. And in addition to always supporting her students, she also helps them keep their goals realistic, reminding them that “it is not necessary to save the world, only that you do what you can to help.”
Liz is surely doing her part to help her students, her school, and her community, and for this, I am thrilled to nominate her for ACE Teacher of the Year. Thank you so much for everything you do, Liz!