On Friday, Farmington Public Schools superintendent Sue Zurvalec surprised Nancy Morris, Media Center Specialist at Hillside Elementary School, with the Judy White-Ora "Teaching with Heart and Soul" Award.
Morris will also be honored at the May 7 Board of Education meeting, held at the North Farmington High School Auditorium.
A Michigan State graduate, Morris began her career as a sixth grade science teacher in Houston, TX. She began her tenure with Farmington Public Schools in August of 1987 and has worked with students of all ages, as a Media Center Specialist, first grade elementary classroom teacher, and middle school science teacher – even stepping in as "acting principal" of William Grace when the need arose.
When William Grace closed in 2010, Morris became Media Center Specialist at Hillside. Among colleagues, parents and students, she is known for her positive attitude, strong work ethic, and warm heart.
"Nancy takes pride in creating a media center where students love to spend time and find ways to explore new adventures," Hillside principal Pam Green said. "Nancy thinks about creating a room from the eyes of a child. She transforms a topic as dry as the Dewey Decimal system into an exciting scavenger hunt."
Award nominators Nancy Dillon and Linda Rempel wrote, "Nancy genuinely enjoys working with children and takes time to get to know their interests, strengths and fears. She builds trust with each stu-dent and creates an environment where students can make mistakes without fear of being embarrassed or ridiculed."
Former student Kristopher Gross said Morris helped him cope with a loss of interest in school after his mother passed away. "I was struggling to find my way and had stopped caring or trying," he wrote. "Mrs. Morris worked hard to get me to not only do my work but to care about school. She ignited my interest in science so strongly that it was not only my favorite subject, but also became my eventual college degree. She not only helped guide me, she walked by my side."
The "Teaching with Heart and Soul" award was created in honor of retired assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Judy White-Ora, who passed away on Jan. 6, 2006. She developed a pledge for teachers, and her ultimate goal was to receive one million signed pledges from educators around the world:
Today I will:
- Respect the uniqueness of each child
- Ignite the joy of learning
- Listen to their voices
- Put human connections first
- Encourage the spirit and let their light shine
- Create a caring learning community
Source: Farmington Public Schools press release