Top Teachers: Jill Morris
Pemeberton E.S., first grade
On her first day as a teacher, Jill Morris stood outside her classroom door, greeting children with a wide smile as they came down the hallway. One little girl stopped, looked up at Morris, then looked down. . . and threw up on Morris’ shoes.
It was an inauspicious start, to be sure, but it didn’t faze the young teacher.
“The nurturing side of me kicked in quickly, and I picked her up and didn’t really care about the mess on my feet,” she recalled.
The years since that day in Fairfax County have been smoother sailing, and Morris has distinguished herself as a caring, thoughtful teacher during her seven years at Henrico’s Pemberton Elementary, where she teaches first grade.
“No matter who I have in my classroom, I want them to feel loved and valued and know that there is someone in their corner,” she said. “No matter who walks through my door, I’m their champion.”
First-graders bring Morris much joy because of their wide-eyed love of school and of learning. Her students are excited about using computers, taking pictures and recording their voices for presentations.
“When a group of students smile, that means a lot,” Morris said.
Parents, including one who nominated Morris, have noticed her efforts.
“She goes out of her way to check on her past students to make sure they are still on the path to success,” one nominator wrote. “Jill volunteers her time to help with the school plays and musicals. This takes a huge amount of her personal time, but she is there to support the children and make them the best they can be.”
Morris has been in charge of the backstage crew for the school’s musical, which are produced every other year.
“You get an opportunity to see a student shine when maybe they wouldn’t in the classroom,” she said.
She experienced that firsthand several years ago when she convinced one student to participate in that year’s musical, even though he wasn’t sure he was talented enough. His enthusiasm for the role was evident throughout, though, and his mother told Morris how thankful she was for the teacher’s encouragement.
“He stood there beaming as his mother told me that,” Morris recalled. “He was so proud.”
A few weeks later, the boy’s mother died. He moved out of state to live with his aunt, who wrote Morris a letter explaining how much the experience – and the lasting memory of his mother’s pride – meant to the boy. The next year, the boy came back to visit and gave Morris a big hug.
“Those are the touching moments that you will never forget as a teacher,” she said.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
It’s going to be a cold weekend so if you’re headed out to the James River Parade of Lights or the Richmond Road Runners Club Toy Run 5K in Innsbrook, you’d better bundle up! If you’re looking for some indoor ways to celebrate the holidays, check out Three-Penny Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story for Christmas” or “To Drive the Cold Winter Away: An Irish Celebration of the Returning Light” at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Glen Allen. Also this weekend – the Henrico Theatre will show the holiday classic “Home Alone." For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Dec. 1, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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