Federal Way Public Schools

Board of Director Recognition Award

Joan Marie Murphy 

Rainier View Elementary May 21, 2015 


Providence Hospital Community Award $17,000 for Rainier View’s Special Ed Pre-K

Who is Joan Marie MURPHY?

A graduate from Seattle University Fine Arts/Art
with an emphasis of integrated studies interwoven

in a wholistic manner
influenced her approach to teaching.

While becoming actively involved in
her children’s educational development,
she obtained:

Teaching Certificate,
Special Education endorsement and
Early Childhood Education
Master’s Degree from Eastern Washington University

Art, Early Childhood Ed P-3
Special Education
Education K-12
Reading, English
History, Political Science

Joan has had many unique educational experiences that enhanced her understanding of the learning process.

As a child, she lagged in learning how to read with the old “Dick and Jane” sight word series, while also needing (reading omit) glasses, resulting (ed) in her being a “late bloomer.”

Being the last of six children, she does not recall anyone reading to her which further added to her early educational challenges in school. Then missing her fifth and sixth grades while immersed in an all-German speaking school . . .

Cultural Insights & Educational Experiences

Joan’s parents believed in the educational value of travel ~

At 10 years of age, she accompanied her friend to Germany, so her friend could meet and get to know her German grandparents. Attending an all-German speaking school for her fifth and sixth grades was an insightful experience of being immersed in a second language. Transitioning back to the states was a cultural shock in the seventh grade to a class of 60 students, with high disciplinarian nuns!

Multiple summers were spent in Leon and Guanajuato, Mexico with her mother’s lifelong friend, who was befriended when Josephine went to high school in the States. There were many memorable experiences – Joan had the opportunity to go to school Josephine’s daughters, learned to dance the El Jarabe Tapatio – the Mexican Hat Dance, and even experienced being serenaded by Mariachis! While later studying Art, Joan attended San Miquel de Allende Art Institute in the historically preserved colonial town, established in 1542 by the Spaniards.

Invaluable cultural insights were gained by living in Okinawa, with travel to Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Additionally, working in Head Start with the Kalispel Tribe, co-hosting a Head Start Pow-Wow with tribal members and supporting the Hmong Refugee Resettlement Program were highlights that she highly values.

Family Life

Her late husband was raised on the Terry Ranch in Cheyenne, whom she met at Seattle University. He served in the US Army Intelligence, stationed in Okinawa where they were married. His final assignment was in the Washington DC area, that allowed them to enjoy living on the East Coast, where Joan studied Art at American University.

Returning to Seattle, her husband was an investigator with the initial City of Seattle Human Rights Department. Ultimately, obtaining his law degree, he became the President of Associated Industries, representing the business community in Spokane and the Inland NW.

The family enjoyed spending summer months in Northern Idaho and traveling throughout the Northwestern states. Their eldest daughter is a firefighter in Tacoma, lives in South Seattle / Hillman City, with two school age sons. Their younger son is a Geologist in Alaska who enjoys snowboarding the high mountain peaks of Valdez, moose hunting, and salmon fishing to fill his freezer. He lives with his beautiful Alaskan Native partner, who has begun a Doctorate degree in Indigenous Studies with the
University of Alaska.