Back to Heroes MAIN


H . E . R . O . E . S .

Back to Heroes MAIN

Back to Heroes MAIN

Meet HighScope Hero

Meet HighScope Hero


It is my duty to ensure that kids learn to love school.

Oxford Early Learning Center
Oxford, Michigan

Renowned educator Rita Pierson, familiar to many through her inspiring TED talks, believed that Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be”.

Jyl Murray is that kind of educator. A passionate early childhood education teacher for more than 20 years, Jyl is a HighScope certified teacher and lead teacher in the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) at the Oxford Early Learning Center (OELC), part of Michigan’s Oxford Community Schools.

GSRP is Michigan’s state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children who have factors that might place them at risk of educational failure. The OELC serves children from various backgrounds and cultures, and Jyl points out: “The classroom is a place for connection, where the children can express their individuality, while celebrating their differences and similarities.”

Jyl utilizes many HighScope principles around conflict resolution and active learning to create a space for exploration. Students are encouraged to make choices, share ideas, solve problems, and play with intention. For example, she decorates her classroom walls with photos of art and architectural landmarks to inspire students to draw and build their own playful shapes and designs using colorful Magna Tiles, chenille stems, paper, and other hands-on materials.

Jyl Murray and students

“When they make choices, that’s when the magic happens,” Jyl explains. “Children gain confidence and become independent thinkers when they are given the chance to come up with their own solutions. It’s amazing to see this in action.”

Jyl believes that her work using the HighScope Curriculum can change the trajectory of a student’s life. “My duty is to ensure that young kids develop a love for school, one that they can carry with them into kindergarten and beyond.”

Jyl joined OELC in 2015 and obtained her HighScope Teacher Certification with an endorsement in The HighScope Preschool Educational Approach in 2017. A year later, she was recruited, along with fellow OELC teacher Shari Baker, to step out of the classroom and into a challenging new assignment of leading a pilot mentorship program for other preschool and toddler teachers with the Oxford Community Schools.

It was Shari Baker who nominated Jyl as a HighScope Hero. Shari wrote: “As a teacher, Jyl is exemplary in utilizing and demonstrating fidelity to the HighScope Curriculum. As a mentor, she worked tirelessly with teachers to help them develop strategies for classroom management while still staying true to the HighScope curriculum.”

While Jyl worked as a Mentor Teacher for a year, and found the work rewarding, she knew she had left her heart in the classroom. Last year, she returned to her job as a lead GSRP teacher.

“Kids are fun, and their minds are so creative and curious,” Jyl says. “Working in this field and with HighScope has truly been a gift. It is such an honor to be named a HighScope Hero, and to be in the same company as all the other heroes.”

A Timely Footnote:
Jyl also applauds HighScope for being so responsive during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is impressed with the resources that HighScope has developed to help teachers, families, and children stay connected in this time of distance learning.