Decked out in white polo shirts and khakis, one teaching power couple learned they could lean on each other to the tune of kids chanting camp songs.
Brittany and Mike Murro initially came together through collaboration as related arts specialists at ESF Summer Camps in Moorestown. Brittany taught science based courses, while Mike taught art, subjects that often intersected through the camp’s weekly themes.
“We put our heads together and made sure there was a common theme that we could feed off of each other throughout the week,” Mike said. “It would be a good talking point.”
“When the summer ended and we were still hanging out, then the Murro story began,” Brittany added with a laugh.
Now married, Brittany teaches Collaboratory, makerspace classes at Tabernacle Elementary School and Mike teaches art at Bunker Hill Middle School in Washington Township.
“We started that trend of collaboration at camp and then it carried over to us in our careers,” Brittany explained.
From their home in Marlton, the pair share ideas and get involved in each other’s classes. Mike painted the mural in the Collaboratory and Brittany attends his students’ art shows.
“It’s nice to have someone who’s in the same field as you,” Brittany noted. “They get what you’re going through and you don’t have to even say it perfectly to have the other one understand exactly what you need.”
When COVID closed schools, the Murros had to manage teaching from home. Their loud personalities often wafted onto each other’s video calls.
“We have all kinds of crazy stuff that we’re trying to bring onto the screen to show the kids,” Brittany noted. “I keep telling my kids in Tabernacle they’re getting a little background art lesson and they’re getting a little background Collaboratory.”
The pair’s connection shines through their pandemic classes, and the Murros hope it will help teach their students the power of teamwork during a difficult time.
“The communication, the collaboration, the perseverance: That’s going to set them up for their futures,” Brittany said. “We’re learning right alongside them how to navigate.”
When the Murros have a hard day, they can feel each other’s pain, according to Mike. When things go really well, they celebrate together.
“The sense of accomplishment that is coming along with this year is like one of the perks,” he related. “When you know all those things pay off and you see how amazing of a job your kids are doing, you also have someone who can relish in that with you.”
When school ends each year, the Murros return to the ESF camps, where they began. They both serve as day-camp directors, now managing the counselors and specialists they were nearly 15 years ago.
“It’s nice to have been able to work together in all these different situations that are arising,” Brittany said. “Having somebody just at the end of a hard day saying, ‘You’re doing a great job. I see what you’re doing. I see the behind-the- scenes.’
“Everyone needs that pick-me-up sometimes.”