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Frances Murray-Trovillion, Teacher Education Scholarship Winner, Fall II, 2010

Dominican University, in partnership with Bisk Education, Inc., is pleased to recognize Frances Murray-Trovillion – a Science, Spanish and Vocabulary teacher at All Saints Catholic School in Richmond, VA – as one of two winners of the Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship for the Fall II, 2010 session. The teacher education scholarship supports the professional development of teachers who are making great strides in improving the lives of their students.

Dedicated to her students’ success and enjoyment of learning, Murray-Trovillion is recognized by her peers for her innovative teaching methods, determination and willingness to go the extra mile. Her efforts have directly impacted All Saints Catholic School students in a number of ways – from introducing middle schoolers to Spanish language and culture, to teaching the girls how to sew their own graduation dresses.

Murray-Trovillion, who is enrolled in Dominican University’s online Master of Arts in Education program with a concentration in English as a Second Language, recently shared her methods of applying practical, hands-on skills to standard curriculum. “From making popsicle-stick bridges to beaded DNA to giant three-dimensional uranium atoms, my students and I have fun in class,” she says.

It’s no wonder that many of her former students are now art and design majors in college. In fact, one of Murray-Trovillion’s and her third-grade students’ favorite activities was planning an imaginary trip around the world, complete with designing and mailing post cards to local home-bound parishioners.

Another innovation of this enthusiastic instructor is the “Morning Meeting” she implemented for her students, where each is allowed to express their feelings, as well as make any suggestions they’d like. In a bit of role reversal, Murray-Trovillion says, “I learn so much about teaching from these meetings. Children told me how they wanted to learn. I worked with them, they worked with me; and we all learned.”

Murray-Trovillion is especially proud of her efforts to bring foreign language skills to her students. Eight years ago, she began the school’s Spanish language program. While many students benefited from the chance to earn a high school credit through the program, one student in particular received even more. At the school’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony, he surprised his parents and teachers with a tribute speech to Murray-Trovillion – delivered completely in Spanish. “He thanked me for opening a whole new world for him,” she said. “It was my most gratifying experience.”

When asked about other ways she improves her teaching skills, Murray-Trovillion’s enthusiasm came through once again. “Teaching is not just passing information to others and hoping they will learn. It is also a learning experience for me,” she replied. “I especially like the challenge.”

One challenge Murray-Trovillion undertook was researching and writing a paper about the lives of colonial women; the paper won her a grant to attend the New York Society for the Humanities’ History of American Woman workshop. Her culminating workshop project, a paper on Harriet Tubman, was chosen to be published by the Society.

“This spurred my next challenge: a one-week workshop at the United States Air Force Academy. I was among 70 teachers learning to prepare our students for a future mission to Mars,” she said. Murray-Trovillion’s rocket design won an award at the workshop.

“I love to teach. I live to teach. I learn by teaching,” said Murray-Trovillion. “In fact, the only thing worse for me than not being able to teach would be the possibility of being denied an education! The Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship will allow me to keep learning from my students and from all the opportunities life presents.”

The dedicated faculty and staff of All Saints Catholic School have made it their mission since 1982 to create a supportive, caring and nurturing atmosphere, which challenges and enables each student. Murray-Trovillion is a shining example of living the school’s mission. According to a colleague, “There is very little she would not do for the school or our students. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does. When she hears something new, she turns it into a lesson for her students. Her efforts have resulted in outstanding student performance.”

Together with Dominican University, Bisk Education is proud to salute Frances Murray-Trovillion – a true everyday hero who is making a difference through the gift of education!