ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — October 21, 2009 — Susan S. Morris was recently selected as the Department of Defense Education Activity's (DoDEA) Teacher of the Year for 2010.
Morris teaches Social Studies and Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) to 7th and 8th grade students, at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in the Heidelberg District. She also taught at DoDEA's Kaiserslautern and Patch American High Schools.
Prior to coming to DoDEA, Morris taught 8th grade American History and 7th grade World Geography at F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School in Yigo, Guam; 11th and 12th grade American Government at George Washington High School in Mangilao, Guam; and 10th grade International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Geography, 7th grade Language Arts, and 8th grade Literature and Social Studies at Verdala International School in St. Andrew's, Malta.
The Teacher of the Year program recognizes teachers for their dedication and contributions to the lives of military dependent children. The program also allows and encourages teachers to be educational leaders. Teachers selected as a Teacher of the Year promote the teaching profession and work with educational officials to enhance educational quality for students.
Dr. Shirley Miles, DoDEA Director, praised Morris for the support and dedication that she shows her students both in and out of the classroom.
"Ms. Morris is a dedicated teacher that genuinely cares for the well-being of her students. The support that she shows on a day-to-day basis is crucial to students who may be coping with a parent who is deployed," she said.
Morris' principal, Dale M. Moore praised her leadership qualities and ability to be a strong role model for her students and fellow peers.
"Susan is a natural leader and demonstrates this skill in a variety of ways at our school, acting as a role model not only for our students but for teachers as well," said Moore. "She is not afraid to take on an extra challenge and eagerly takes them on if there is a demonstrated benefit for our students."
Frank Roehl, Superintendent for the Heidelberg District, DoDEA Europe, also recognized Morris for her exceptional teaching ability and her willingness to connect with her students.
"Susan actively demonstrates a total commitment in support of her students' academic growth as well as their social and emotional development," he said. "This caring supportive attitude is not lost on her students who return her enthusiasm for learning and personalize her modelling of positive citizenship and service."
The process to find the DoDEA teacher of the year begins with the nomination of a candidate by a parent, the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO), a colleague or a student. The nominees complete application packets that are submitted to their District Office. A panel selected by the District superintendent decides the District Teacher of the Year. Another panel at DoDEA headquarters selects the Teacher of the Year from the District Teachers of the year. The DoDEA Teacher of the Year goes on to compete in the National Teacher of the Year competition. The DoDEA Teacher of the year will also have the opportunity to do a sabbatical semester where they devise a project that will be beneficial to teachers and students.
Morris graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors of Science in Education with a concentration in history, geography, Asian studies and political science; and a Masters of Education with a concentration in Curriculum Development and Asian Studies.
In the classroom she works with her students towards defined goals and standards, focuses on each individual student's learning, and uses multiple techniques and assessments to reach those goals. Morris is an active mentor to her students and her support extends beyond the classroom.
Building strong student-teacher relationships and allowing students to believe in their abilities and trust in their success is Morris' key to success in the classroom.
"Learning cannot take place without creating a positive academic atmosphere that inspires personal trust, evokes an 'I believe in you' attitude, and makes students feel comfortable and safe to be themselves," said Morris. "Building relationships of trust, mutual respect and responsibility with my students, parents and staff is the core of my personal philosophy of teaching."
DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages the education programs for Department of Defense (DoD) dependents who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education. DoDEA consists of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) located overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) located in the United States and its territories and possessions. DoDEA provides education to eligible DoD military and civilian dependents from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.