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Linda Murdock ’69

33

www.lycoming.edu

F E AT U R E S

give these students a competitive edge in

a global society. What if an employer says

they need someone to work in China? For

our students, that would be no problem.”

There are elements of learning that

can be delayed when children take on

more than a single language. “Some

things are slowed down, I won’t deny it,

but once balanced, this is better for the

students,” Murdock said. Experts seem

to generally agree, saying the delays are

overstated and outweighed by the benefits

of bilingual study. For instance, according

to the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab,

while bilingual children may be a little

slower to reach certain benchmarks, they

quickly reach par with children learning a

single language. CLAL also cites a recent

finding that “bilingualism enhances

the development of executive attention

and facilitates superior performance in

bilinguals as compared to monolingual

counterparts.”

Other key aspects of the curriculum are

ownership and stewardship, qualities that

are inculcated early in the children. “We

teach them to take care of the school, to

participate in that. We also look for ways

the students themselves can do something

for those in need, rather than having the

parents do it, for example,” Murdock said.

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C.,

Lyndon students were invited to take part

in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at

the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington

National Cemetery. “I never even would

have had that on my dream list,” Murdock

said. “It was an incredible honor.”

On a frigid and damp November

afternoon, four Lyndon students spent

a half hour rehearsing their parts. They

were then guided by an honor guard as

they processed to the tomb in tandem

and placed the wreath. A video of the

ceremony can be seen on YouTube.

“Those kids felt it,” Murdock said. “They

understood the implications of what they

were doing: the privilege of representing

their own school, the commitment to their

country that it represented and what all

those men and women had done.”

Originally from Binghamton, Ny,

Murdock speaks well of her own

educational opportunities and is keen

on her time at Lycoming. “I loved it

and I’m very proud of it. It provided me

everything I needed to accomplish what

I have done, and I am grateful for that,”

she said. “It was a unique experience, and

I wish my professors were still around so

I could say thank you. We didn’t say that

enough back then.”

She seemed destined for a career in

education. “I was always one of the kids in

the neighborhood that rounded up all the

other kids to do things, or I would teach

Sunday school classes,” she said “It was

the children –– that spark you see in their

eye when something happens. That drew

me in and kept me with it.”

After graduating from Lycoming,

Murdock taught in public and private

schools for three decades before moving

south, where she began her first school

in Bradenton, Fla., home to elite training

facilities for young, world-class athletes in

sports like tennis and soccer. A colleague

invited her to develop a school that would

meet their needs. “It was unique. We were

open from 7:30 in the morning until 9

p.m. It ran more college style,” she said.

Among her students were five-time

grand slam tennis champion Maria

Sharapova and Michael Parkhurst, a

defender who has accumulated 25 caps

for the United States men’s national

soccer team and is lately of the

Columbus Crew.

“There was nothing like having

students from, say, South America,

France and the U.S. together in a world

history class. They had all learned

different histories,” Murdock said. “It

was fascinating and made for some

lively conversations. I remember when

things got heated once saying that if they

couldn’t get along, there was no hope

for us; they had to learn how to work

together.”

As to her own work, Murdock needs

no exhortation. “This isn’t a job where

you just shut down when you go home,”

she said. “The children are constantly

on your mind and I feel a tremendous

obligation to make sure they are ready

for the future. I get up in the morning and

think, if I am not doing it, who will?”

“I want these children to be ready for whatever the world throws at them.”