Donegal Speech and Drama teacher Karen Murphy is celebrating 15 years in business with some special projects for students.
There has been a lot of drama in Karen’s career this past 15 years – but it’s the good kind of drama. Throughout her career, Karen’s name has become synonymous with communications as she helps students blossom while developing skills for life and for work.
Looking back over the past 15 years, there has never been a more tumultuous time than 2020.
The events of this past year have turned communication on its head. As we all moved online, Karen was one of the first teachers in the country to launch virtual Speech and Drama classes.
Now, students practice their poetry, monologues and theory through Zoom before taking their exams online. Classes have moved from schools and studios, to kitchens and living rooms, where Karen gets to enjoy interacting with all the family.
It’s a strange time, but Karen sees technology continuing to be an intrinsic part of communication in the years to come.
“Online presentations take a lot more effort than speaking to the face. 57% of our communication is body language and is non-verbal. You have to work hard on that to get a point across,” Karen said.
“My students have learned speaking to camera extremely well for the past nine months. Now, going into this lockdown, they were very proficient and happy to go online with primary and secondary classes.”
The pandemic has also drawn-out extra qualities in students, Karen notes.
She said: “There is one thing teaching the content, teaching the syllabus, and it’s quite the other teaching the motivation and the resilience. Resilience is one thing that I feel I am teaching at the moment. At an interview you could be asked to demonstrate a time when you showed resilience or communication skills, and I say to students – ‘you’ve lost no time because of the pandemic’. They have all marched on through their exams and I am so proud of them all.”
“The Irish Board of Speech & Drama Performance have been hugely understanding and flexible with the online exams. They understand we don’t all have a huge amount of space in our houses and children might be recording themselves in an attic, or outside.”
Gaining skills for employability has always been Karen’s mantra. Seeing students work hard on their Speech and Drama exams, and later succeeding in major life steps, has been a constant source of pride for Karen.
“Being 15 years in business, a lot of children who came to me on day one are now in their early twenties. Some have even stayed with me over the years and have gone on to work in environments in broadcasting and areas they were trained to do. Other students in their fourth and final years of college would tell me about how they realise the benefits of their skills during presentations and interviews,” she said.
“For younger children, some of my proudest moments are when you get a message from mum saying they can’t believe the change.”
Karen’s School of Speech, Drama & Communications grew from a lightbulb moment, she recalls. She was working for Young Enterprise NI, rolling out enterprise workshops in schools, when she started to add drama to keep up student engagement. She was inspired to branch out on her own and went back to studying. Karen qualified as a Speech and Drama teacher before slowly building up the school in Newtowncunningham, Manorcunningham and Letterkenny.
Now, she is about to begin preparing for a creative celebration of her business anniversary in September. Naturally, it will include the students who make her work so worthwhile.
This September, Karen’s school will release a book of Poetry and Prose, all written by students.
Karen is collaborating with published author, Valerie Bryce, who will roll out creative writing workshops during February mid-term, helping students get their creative writing juices flowing. All proceeds from the book will be in aid of LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice.
“This summer will be an exciting time for me, after the creative writing workshops and Speech and Drama exams in March and April, we will turn our focus to working on the book. It will be something special to look forward to,” she said.
For more, visit Karen’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/KarenMurphySpeechDramaCommunications
For information on upcoming courses, visit: karenmurphyspeechanddrama.ie
Karen has also announced a new programme for adults. Proficiency in Public Speaking, an eight week course, launches on 9th March.
For more information, contact email@example.com