“I’m looking forward to graduating (Sunday) and going to St. Anselm with my sister next year, but it’s a little strange because I don’t know that many of the seniors I’m going to be graduating with,” Brandi said.
Murphy, who is finishing her fourth year as a Haverhill High teacher, said Brandi is the only student she has tutored outside of school for the district. She said she was assigned as Brandi’s tutor due to Brandi’s interest in science.
“She’s been fantastic,” Murphy said of Brandi. “In two years, she never cancelled a single, grueling three-hour tutoring session despite her illness, even when she didn’t feel well. I cancelled a few times because I was sick and was worried about making her sick, but she didn’t back out once.”
Kimberly Zizza said Haverhill school officials worked with the family to overcome every obstacle to Brandi continuing her education, including making special accommodations for taking MCAS and SAT exams.
Murphy made such an impression that Brandi said she plans to major in chemistry at college. Murphy taught her chemistry last year and a medical terminology course this year.
Murphy’s impact on the Zizzas wasn’t limited to school work.
Last month, while Murphy and Brandi were studying, Mikaela got dizzy and almost fainted while sitting at the kitchen table. Murphy, who is also emergency medical technician, stabilized Michaela and called an ambulance.
Mikaela, who is a second-year criminal justice major at St. Anselm College, spent 11 days in a Boston hospital. Like her sister, she has been diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease.
“Ms. Murphy has been an extreme comfort to all of us,” Kimberly Zizza said. “She is truly an angel that was sent to us to help get us through our most difficult times.”
Newgraduation details When: Sunday, 1 p.m. (postponed from Friday due to rain) Where: Trinity Stadium, Lincoln Avenue Who: 387 students to receive diplomas