All Saints’ Episcopal School
What he teaches: 7th grade life science
How long he’s taught: 18 years, including 10 in the White Settlement schools and eight at All Saints’
Education: Bachelor of science, biology, with a life/earth science minor, Angelo State University
Why he teaches: All I've ever really wanted to do is share my love of God's creation. I want my students to respect each other and all forms of life regardless of how big or how small, or where that life might be location on the planet. I try to get kids excited about how everything works together, how each part is ultimately dependent upon another and how fragile life really is. I want them to have an understanding of the world in which they live and a reverence for life in general. I believe the more they know about their world the more they will feel a sense of responsibility for what they will do with the life they’ve been given.
How he connects with students: I believe children are born with an unremitting desire to conquer new challenges if they feel safe in making an attempt. From the start of the school year, I focus on establishing a safe environment for communication. A misspoken word can hinder a child's progress for the rest of that teacher/child relationship, whereas a carefully constructed comment can create a bond that will allow information to flow between the two uninhibitedly. It is essential to the working relationship that I listen carefully to what my students are saying. I must offer validation of their ideas and comments while at the same time guide them in the direction I wish for them to go. The result is a student who leaves my classroom with a since of accomplishment, a better understanding of the material, and a willingness to engage in future interactions. I try to empower my students and help them become more than they thought possible.
Why he’s a Top Teacher: Nominators cited Morris’ passion and work with the school’s solar car and robotics teams. “Joe gets kids to get excited about learning, thinking, and exploring. His passion for innovation pushes his students to engage.” – Colleague, in nominating Morris