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Gaither High School teaching legend Jerry Murray celebrates his 50th 'first day' of school

"I'm a big kid even though I'm 72 years old!"
Posted at 1:19 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 07:34:26-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Jerry Murray does magic tricks.

The teaching legend also has a skeleton assistant, his "silent partner," Dr. Skully.

Just two sweet, silly reasons why students adore him.

"I'm a big kid, even though I'm 72 years old," laughs Murray, the biology and chemistry guru at Tampa's Gaither High School.

As many Hillsborough County students return to the classroom for the first time in a long time, Jerry is enjoying a historic milestone:

Fifty "first days" of school.


And yes, he still feels that "first day" thrill.

"Oh I love it," Murray says. "I can't wait to see everybody."

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This former Teacher of the Year winner says the secret to being one of the Tampa Bay area's most successful educators is simple.

"You gotta show that you really care about the students," says Murray, who also coaches the school's softball team.

Technology changed over the years, but the kids haven't.

"You have to relate to them on their level," Murray says.

Although Jerry agrees that this, his fiftieth first day, will also be his most challenging first day due to the pandemic, he welcomes any sense of normalcy.

"We want to be happy again," Murray says. "It's all about being human and being with one another."