Spot Light

Jackie Murphy
Teacher, 2nd Grade
Holy Child School at Rosemont
Rosemont, PA

The 2023-2024 school year marks Jackie Murphy’s ninth year of teaching Grade 2 at Holy Child School at Rosemont. She is a guiding light to the second-grade children each year as they grow in their faith and receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. With a total of eleven years of teaching experience in Catholic schools, Jackie has a deep understanding of what it means to be an inspiring religious educator. Every year at Holy Child, she leads a new group of second graders through the process of developing their personal faith commitments and welcomes the greater Holy Child community into the process.

What brings you joy about teaching Grade 2 students?

I love to witness the children’s growth throughout their second-grade year, especially how they grow in their faith. Before entering Grade 2, the children have experienced prayer services and Masses as community members. We begin each school year by learning about all the different parts of the Mass and then, they take on different roles for the prayer services and Masses that our grade hosts. These experiences lead them to fully understand how all the pieces of the puzzle come together to create a complete celebration, and they take ownership over their roles such as dressing the altar and serving as cantors. The children come to understand how each part of the Mass is important, and that their contributions in these roles make a complete Sacrament.

I also love seeing their growth through our classroom discussions: We read a different Bible story each week in religion class and as the year goes on, the students become more reflective and vocal in their responses. They begin to draw connections between the messages and lessons embedded in the Gospel readings and their daily life experiences. I enjoy seeing how they put these lessons into practice — like being the one to take the first step and apologize when you are disagreeing with a friend — and sharing out with their teachers and friends when they make these connections for themselves.

What are some of your favorite Grade 2 traditions that coincide with the Sacramental Program?

One of my favorite traditions during the Grade 2 year is when the children create their own lamb artwork at home with their families. The spiritual meaning behind the lamb is that we are each a member of Jesus’ flock, and the class creates a flock of lambs before receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This tradition invites the whole family to get involved, and it sparks excitement around the child’s preparation for the Sacraments. The children take pride in their creations and excitedly show them off at school, which brings back memories for the older students who experienced this same tradition years before. We also invite the faculty, staff, and students to write holy cards to the Grade 2 students, which brings the community together to support the second graders for this special occasion.

How does the mission of Holy Child influence your role as an educator?

When I first applied to be a Grade 2 teacher at Holy Child, everyone said how lucky I would be to work alongside Judy Cassidy. That is absolutely true, and she modeled many great Holy Child lessons for me, including how to be a positive member of the community, how to best guide our students, and how to speak to each child with dignity and respect. I worked at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School before coming to Holy Child; since working here, I have grown as a religious educator and my approach to teaching is inspired by Cornelia Connelly’s motto, “Actions, Not Words.” I strive to teach the children how the messages and lessons in the Bible connect to their daily lives, and how they can put their faith into action every day.