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Morgan County educator named teacher of the year

September 13, 2006|From Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.VA. - Sarah Morris, an English teacher at Berkeley Springs High School in Morgan County, has been named West Virginia's 2007 Teacher of the Year.

She will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

State Superintendent Steve Paine made the announcement during a ceremony Tuesday at the Charleston Marriott that recognized county teachers of the year.

Morris began her teaching career in 2000 as a substitute in Preston County. She began teaching full time in 2001 at Berkeley Springs, where her classes include English, speech, composition and AP language and composition. She also has been an online instructor for English as a Second Language.

"It is my distinct privilege to honor such a fine educator in our state's public school system," state Superintendent Steve Paine said in a news release. "Sarah's dedication to her students by preparing them for college or the workplace has made her worthy of this award."

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Morris has bachelor's and master's degrees from West Virginia University.

Morris said in a phone interview after the awards ceremony that she was caught by surprise.

"I looked at my mom and said, 'This can't be happening,'" Morris said. "I was very flattered. I work very hard and everyone on the staff at my school works very hard. I see this as a door of opportunity opened and I'll do the best I can."

Morris said she attended the ceremony with her parents, Frank and Linda Morris, her principal, George Ward Jr., and Morgan County Superintendent of Schools David Temple.

"The quality I have admired most about Sarah over the last five years is her perseverance," Ward said. "When most teachers profess failure, Sarah looks for a new approach. She has the magic that we all talk about and the humility to downplay it."

Morris said the award shines a spotlight on Morgan County's "small, but formidable" school system.

"We are doing some great things and we deserve some recognition," she said. "We are building a community within our schools."

Morris received the Mary Linn Fox First Year Teacher Award in 2002 and was a 2006 participant in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program, which strives to increase understanding between the people of Japan and the United States.

She also is the author of "My Father Teaches Me to Fish," which was accepted for publication in Gray's Sporting Journal in 2005, and "Burying Opal," which was published by Nantahala Review in 2002.

As West Virginia's 2007 Teacher of the Year, Morris will receive an educational technology package from the Smarter Kids Foundation valued at about $14,300.

Morris was selected by a committee appointed by the state Superintendent of Schools to evaluate 11 finalists who came from the county Teacher of the Year winners. The Teacher of the Year is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country, granting its first award in 1964.

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