Position: Building Administrator
School: Norton Primary School
School District: Norton City Schools
City, State: Norton, OH
Music that Describes Eric
Eric Morris was nominated by his colleague, Tracy Ranier.
"Eric began his teaching career at Norton City Schools as a special education and middle school science teacher, when I first met him over 20 years ago," said Ranier. "He was my son's science teacher and is the reason my son chose science as his career path. My son was only one person who was so positively impacted by Eric. Eric encouraged his special education students to graduate, encouraging them often as they went on to high school. He challenged these students by promising them a vacation with him if they crossed that graduation stage. Although it was many years ago, there wasn't a dry eye during that graduation ceremony, and it is remembered to this day."
"Fifteen years ago, Eric...accepted his first building administrator position at Norton Primary School, where I was a kindergarten teacher," said Ranier. "Eric quickly became respected as a leader who valued custodial and maintenance workers, bus drivers, and cooks as equals to educators. He valued the role everyone plays in impacting student and families. It was no surprise when Eric was asked to become Norton's director of student services and head of our developmental preschool. Eric recently led the preschool team to their Step-Up-To-Quality five star status."
In the role of Student Services Director, Mr. Morris ensured the ethical and educational needs of all students were met, not only in a timely manner, but with dignity and respect. He ensured students always received access to the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment). He teamed up with Summit County to provide even more opportunities for students.
Mr. Morris returned to Norton Primary in a shared position due to budget cuts in the district. He became principal, but only for the building housing PK-K. He quickly created a positive atmosphere at Norton Primary for staff and students alike. At the beginning of a recent year, he gave the teachers a Lego block and asked them to write one vision word on it. Together, the staff created a Lego structure, which Mr. Morris framed as a way to connect the staff and bring them together as a team.
"During staff development and staff meetings, he is always finding creative ways to promote a positive attitude among us," said Ranier. "We had to think of something we were experienced in and passionate about educationally and add it to a bulletin board. Then, staff members went to those teachers who were experts in an area when they needed additional help."
Mr. Morris is always encouraging and friendly with the students, establishing a school family. He knows each student by name and welcomes them every morning. He values family input, encouraging families to attend his PB and J get-togethers so they can give input to building plans.
Mr. Morris is beloved in his community, as well. Recently, the manager of the local Arby's approached Mr. Morris to give him grant money they received to use somewhere in town. He is using the donation for a reading project. The manager approached Mr. Morris because of his love of learning, students, and families.
Mr. Morris creates a nurturing atmosphere with an open door policy. His office is always open for students and staff. The students love to go to his office and share their academic and personal accomplishments with him. The same holds true for the staff. During the pandemic, he has gone over and beyond to create a safe, supportive atmosphere. He has embraced the needs and requests of parents and staff. He has made accommodations to meet the individual needs of students and staff, spending many personal hours to do so.
To summarize, Mr. Morris is a very virtuous educational leader and administrator. He has set high moral standards for himself, his staff, and his students. He leads by example as he treats all others with respect, dignity, and kindness. Mr. Morris not only sets an example in the school and district, but in his community. He is involved in community outreach programs such as Wednesday's Child, a nonprofit which supports homeless and underprivileged youth. He also volunteers with Special Olympics, Rehab Ministry, and more.
"Norton City Schools and the community as a whole would agree that Eric is the perfect example of a LifeChanger," said Ranier.