September Graider of the Month: Courtney Murray

Courtney Murray is one of those people you can tell is called to teach. Courtney is a senior at Emory University and is going to become a teacher in ten short months. For a while, she thought she might become a lawyer – her dad always said she was good at arguing! But her freshman writing class at Emory nurtured her love of English. Her experience attending Emory also helped her appreciate that she was fortunate to an opportunity that many kids from her community didn’t have – and she wants to change that.

Courtney Murray

Courtney credits her matriculation to Emory to the strong support she received from her tight-knit community back home. We’ve noticed that community-based encouragement is a framework for Courtney as she thinks about the type of teacher she will become. She talks about helping build up students’ belief in themselves and their potential – that they can do better, and they can become better writers. 

We are thrilled to recognize Courtney as our September Graider of the Month. Teachers have raved about the specificity of Courtney’s feedback for students as well as how she was able to understand students so well.  

I so appreciated that you gave such detailed, helpful to future essay comments; your emphasis on theme and the “big picture” was spot on as well. It’s the most difficult concept for seniors at this stage in the year. You did a great job.
— Ms. Smith, Clarksville TN

One of the keys to Courtney's success? Playing the trumpet. Courtney loved participating in the band in middle and high school. Playing music gave her a much-needed outlet and break from the stress of her coursework and other high school demands. She still enjoys playing when she’s back at home. 

students

Courtney is considering teaching offers from Teach for America and Uncommon Schools. Long term, Courtney is interested in pursuing her Ph.D. in English and potentially teaching at the postsecondary level. For now, she is focused on teaching secondary English. She spent seven weeks this summer teaching summer school and has a sense for how demanding the full-time teaching profession will be. 

Before becoming a Graider, Courtney was one of the Fellows enrolled in Graide Academy – our preparation courses on effective feedback, rubrics, and data-driven instruction. She noted that the training gave her confidence, particularly around how to give constructive feedback. Since then, working on real assignments for English teachers made the lessons from Graide Academy stick. 

My two favorite parts of being part of The Graide Network are first being able to push myself to give effective feedback, and second getting feedback from teachers themselves. They always send me a note saying how the students appreciated the feedback. This puts a personal touch on it – the students are real, they are getting my feedback, and they are using it in their writing process. I love knowing that I am helping someone get more comfortable with writing and get prepared for college.
— Courtney Murray

Courtney likes that The Graide Network is a bridge between teacher and the student in age and experience. She explains, "We still understand why students write the way they write, but are also able to take the position as an older adult."

Courtney says her experience working as a Graider has had immediate ramifications back at Emory – she’s better at giving herself feedback, asking for feedback from professors, and giving feedback to the students she tutors on campus. In fact, she’s working with one of her professors to help increase the rigor of peer feedback provided on their honors thesis drafts. 

Courtney has also started asking the students she tutors to give her feedback on her tutoring (e.g., How patient was I? How helpful was my feedback?). Her ability to generate feedback loops with others will undoubtedly be a critical asset to building the thriving classroom and supportive community she seeks when she enters the classroom next year.