Donald Murphy '06GEd, '10Ed.D.

Alumnus and Adjunct Professor Helps Families Adapt to Common Core

When Donald Murphy '06GEd, '10Ed.D. witnessed the difficulty parents and students were having with New York State’s new Common Core math standards, the St. John’s alumnus decided to use his experience, expertise, and empathy to do something about it.

Murphy, the director of mathematics and information systems in the Hauppauge School District, teamed up with a colleague from another town to launch the Common Core Video Help Initiative Project (CCVIDHELP), a YouTube channel that helps parents and children with the new math curriculum.

“There was tremendous anxiety among families about the new math standards,” said Murphy, himself a father. “You had parents sitting at the kitchen table trying to help their second-grader with new math strategies and there were literally no resources available to them.”

Murphy modeled ccvidhelp after the popular Khan Academy educational website and created content specific to Common Core. “A group of districts pulled together to create videos for each grade level’s Common Core modules,” he said. “Right now, we have approximately 200 videos on a wide range of lessons.”

Since most parents have access to smart phones and tablets, Murphy encourages teachers to include ccvidhelp links with assignments. “We can put a specific URL or QR code into the homework packet, and now when mom and dad are at the table helping with homework, they can take out their phone or a tablet, scan the code, and see the lesson.”

While he has excelled in education, it wasn’t Murphy’s first vocation. “I worked on Wall Street for several years, but I wasn’t passionate about it,” he recalled.  At the age of 30, he quit his job in finance and began teaching SAT prep courses at night. “I fell in love with teaching.”

Murphy began teaching computer classes at Catholic elementary schools on Long Island and enrolled in The School of Education's graduate program at the Oakdale campus, where he earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees. “I loved the Oakdale campus and the programs,” he said.

As a graduate student, Murphy was given the opportunity to showcase his talents in the classroom. “I’m a techie,” he said, “so a lot of the professors asked me to bring my ideas to the table in class.” Soon after delivering the valedictory address at his hooding ceremony, he received a call from Jerrold Ross, Ph.D., then dean of The School of Education, inviting him to teach as an adjunct professor. “By that time I was working as a school administrator and I missed teaching, so I jumped at the opportunity.”

His vision for ccvidhelp is that it will continue to expand. “I think of it as a library that is always growing,” he said. Next year, Murphy also plans to teach a total of five graduate courses at the Oakdale campus. “Teaching at St. John’s is a great experience,” he said. “I get the one-on-one contact I love with students in the classroom. In Hauppauge, I get to make an impact on an entire school district. It’s a win-win.”