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After nearly a decade spent working in a law office as a paralegal, Lisa McMurtrie decided it was time to do something different with her life. She was in a corporate environment and not getting much personal satisfaction from her job. She wanted a setting where she could capitalize on her twin passions for teaching and working with children. McMurtrie found the perfect opportunity to accomplish her goals at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
The former paralegal enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching degree that prepares aspiring teachers for the classroom. “I greatly benefited by choosing Hopkins for my graduate education,” McMurtrie said. “I chose Hopkins over Harvard for its outstanding reputation, its commitment to excellence and its ties to the Baltimore community.”
After earning her degree in 1999, McMurtrie was hired by Baltimore City Schools to teach second grade at Mary Rodman Elementary School. Of her initial teaching experience, she said, “When I entered the classroom, thanks to my preparation at Johns Hopkins, I was very familiar with lesson planning and classroom management. I’m sure that my principal, who was also a wonderful mentor, hired me based on my Hopkins degree."
Her career continued to blossom. In 2012, she was named director of the Trinity Episcopal Preschool in downtown Towson. Trinity is a Christian preschool and childcare facility for children ages two through five located a few blocks from the seat of Baltimore County Government. The school enrolls 75 children and has a professional staff of 10. Students at Trinity receive a wide range of educational experiences in the classroom including literacy, math, art, movement, and creative explorations. McMurtrie directs a summer camp when school is not in session.
A visit to her small cramped office in a building adjacent to the church finds it filled with books about early childhood and assorted sports items including two large lacrosse goals. “I’m a strong believer that play helps children learn and develop their social, emotional, and intellectual skills,” she said. “ I’m concerned that children today don’t have as much time for play with the fast pace of life for busy families, wide use of video games, and concerns parents have about safety.” In addition to doing all the tasks of a director such as fundraising, marketing and public relations, she also writes curriculum and teaches science and coaches lacrosse. The curriculum for three – and four - year olds is aligned with the state’s new Common Core guidelines for preK. With the many demands on her as director, Mc Murtrie recently decided to return to the School of Education for the graduate certificate in Educational Leadership for Independent Schools.
The preschool director has maintained strong ties with Johns Hopkins. She is active with other graduates in alumni related activities and leads the mentor program. This program links experienced alumni with current students or recent graduates to help them transition to the work world. Of her Johns Hopkins experience, McMurtrie said, “Hopkins taught me how to be a multi-tasker, as well as to think outside of the box. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities the School of Education has provided for me and continues to provide."
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