There's a reason Kristin Murphy feels at home in the realistic mock courtroom at Nova Middle School. She's a licensed attorney who left that profession to teach law full time at Nova Middle School in Davie.
"A hundred percent more satisfying to be a teacher than it is to be a lawyer, for me, I wake up every day excited, I go home happy, and that was not true as an attorney," Murphy said.
Murphy fell into teaching by accident. She was volunteering at a children's theatre, realized she enjoyed dealing with the kids, so when she saw an opening to teach law at Nova, she went for an interview with the principal.
"This woman is nuts, that's what I thought, the reality is you gotta be a little crazy to teach middle school, she's got that kind of crazy, but she loves the kids," said Rayner Garranchan, Nova Middle School's principal. "First of all, she's very engaging, that's extraordinarily important, you don't engage the kids, you lose 'em, and super dedicated, one of those teachers that come very early and leaves very late at night."
When she started, with zero teaching experience, Murphy says she was overwhelmed. She relied on advice and help from her colleagues at the school, whom she credits for showing her how it's done.
"My philosophy is to always answer the why questions, I think if a kid knows why you're asking them to do something, they're gonna be more willing to do it, so I always answer the why questions and I also always try to do something that I as a student would've enjoyed doing," Murphy explains.
Her philosophy must be working. She's only been teaching three years but Murphy is Broward County Public Schools' teacher of the year. Like all the best teachers, she feels this job deep inside.
"When you look into a kid's eyes and they're getting it, whether it's a lesson in math, science, history, whatever, or it's just a life lesson because I think half my job is life lessons, when you look into their eyes and see they're getting it, I think you have this sense of purpose that surpasses any profession in the world," Murphy said.
The verdict is in. Kristin Murphy made the right choice.