LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Eric Morris

Position: Building Administrator
School: Norton Primary School
School District: Norton City Schools
City, State: Norton, OH

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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.

Comments (17)

Amy Panchumarti Posted 3 months ago

Eric Morris is an exemplary administrator, teacher, and friend to staff and students. He is a stewardship principal leading through example. Eric would do any task needed from encouraging children, showing great depth in understanding curriculum, to wiping tables after lunch. He cared deeply for every aspect of his learning community and the city of Norton. Eric Morris is a LifeChanger for special education as well as traditional learners. Eric shows strength through a gentle and caring heart. Three cheers for this exceptional person!

Mary Bird Posted over a year ago

Eric’s dedication to literacy and life-long learning has opened the doors of the local public library to his Norton Primary students. I know this, because I am the Early Childhood Librarian at the Norton Branch Library (Akron-Summit County Public Library). Mr. Morris made sure that I not only got a foot in the door but the floor to introduce the world of reading to the Norton kindergartners. He has made it possible for his students to get library cards and go on library tours. In 2020, he invited me to share literature, songs and dance through the Kindergarten Google Classroom set up to keep his youngsters learning and thriving. I would say my job is richer because of my connection to Eric and his everlasting vision for the children of Norton, OH.

Lindsay Sharratt Posted over a year ago

Our family open-enrolled to Norton this year with our daughter entering Kindergarten. As most parents with their first child entering school, I had several questions. I emailed Mr. Morris and he took the time to call me back and discuss my questions with me. He would spend several minutes helping me to better understand processes and feel confident in a year of uncertainty. I am certain he had many other issues to address in his day, and responding via email would have been much faster, but he took the time to call, talk to me, and get to know me and our family. I have enjoyed many conversations with Mr. Morris in the pick up/ drop off line and he is always pleasant and takes a true interest in our family. I grew up with a father who was an educator and I know that it can be a thankless and tiring job. Mr. Morris is always there, outside with his staff, greeting kids and their families day after day. I have been extremely impressed by the administration at Norton City Schools and we are PROUD PANTHERS! Thank you, Mr. Morris for welcoming our family and being a bright spot in a year of challenges. We are so grateful for you!

Maria Posted over a year ago

Thanks for all that you do, and congratulations on this nomination! I'm so glad to see you recognized for all of your hard work and good things that you do! We appreciate you!

Bruce &a Linda Morris Posted over a year ago

As parents it is hard to be objective about a son that has made us proud in so many ways. Even as a child, Eric has always shown empathy for others and participated in many community service projects. He has carried these values into his classroom and as a school administrator. While attending Ohio University, Eric called to tell us he was changing his major to education. Since we are both retired educators, this was one of our proudest moments. The lives he has touched, teachers and children, proves to us he made the right decision. Proud Parents, Linda & Bruce Morris

Mary Anne Joyce Posted over a year ago

Our beloved Mr. Morris! Eric has worn so many hats in the Norton school district over the years. But my absolute favorite is that of champion for kids with special needs. He makes sure they receive the services and supports they need to succeed. I love that he always sees the best in my son and I love that he cares about him. Over the years I’ve felt that my son was special to him and held a favorite place in his heart. The funny thing is every family that’s worked with him can say the same thing!

Tiffany Quick (Myers) Posted over a year ago

Eric, So much could be said but there just would never be enough room. To start, thank you for never giving up on me even when that would have been easier. Now that I am an adult I understand being so drained and yet choose to keep going when it would be easier to quit. Next, thank you for always being great to my children. They adore you and just have the fondest memories of you! I couldn’t think of anyone better for this nomination!

Debbie Stults Posted over a year ago

I have known Eric Morris for many years. He is an outstanding individual and an Awesome Educator. He definetley deserves this award. He is alwaya there to help anyone.

Sue Posted over a year ago

Congrats Mr Morris. Your great with the kids and have a huge genuine smile. Grandparent of students and volunteer.

Jacob Morris Posted over a year ago

He is so deserving of this award. As I’ve grown up watching my father in his work I can say there is no one I admire more. He has committed his life to this district and he truly changes the lives of every student he works with. He’s never one to ask for recognition, and yet he gives so much. This is the perfect opportunity to recognize such an incredible LIFE CHANGER!

Linda Kovach Posted over a year ago

I was so excited to see that Eric Morris was nominated for this award. He is so deserving. He sees a need and he addresses it, he gives without asking for anything in return and he is tireless in helping others. He has touched many lives in a positive way. A child comes to school with no coat and he knows the family is struggling so he buys the child a coat. He volunteers to help deliver food and other items to a street outreach using his trailer so we don’t have to make several trips. He got up early on Thanksgiving Day to help Wednesday’s Child bargain shop to provide homeless children with new clothes for Christmas. And these are just a few examples in the last month. He serves others every day. And most people have no idea how much he does to help others because he is a quiet presence that doesn’t seek out accolades for himself. Eric Morris is truly what your award is all about. Please select Eric.

Gail Myers Posted over a year ago

That is fantastic and he is a fantastic educator and a wonderful Man

Denese Turlik Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Bossman. So proud that I worked with you and for you. I always knew I had a friend to count on when things were not looking good with some of our students and their parents. Merry Christmas.

Ruth Stimac Posted over a year ago

Eric, I remember the first time I met you when I subbed in the MH class. It take me but 5 minutes to see how special you were with how you communicated and worked with your students. I was hooked by your compassion and enthusiasm! Your sense of humor has gotten us through long meetings and tough days. Your smile lights up a room and our hearts. When you switched to being a Science teacher, your enthusiasm didn't wane. My youngest son was lucky enough to have you and saw and still carries on the understanding that we all have something to bring and show others. It has been a pleasure to work by your side, have you lead us, but always remain approachable and so very kind. You have blessed and continue to bless each person that has the privilege to know you. You have my utmost respect and ARE a lifechanger every day of every year!! Sincerely, Ruth

Caroll Aleshire Posted over a year ago

I heartily agree with everything Tracy said in this tribute! As an intervention specialist at Primary, he has continually inspired me to go beyond what I think I can do, and because he gives so much, I cannot refuse to give more as well.

Judy Hoynes Posted over a year ago

I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this honor than Eric Morris. I was a Paraprofessional with Eric his first year teaching in the classroom. His devotion and compassion to the students were always outstanding. He had fresh new ideas in helping these students reach goals and their potential. I had been an assistant with other super teachers, so he would include my input and always made me feel that I too was contributing to the students education. He always treated me, and the other assistants as equals. Our students respected his teaching methods and wanted to perform to the best of their abilities to praise him. Years later, Eric was the Principal in the building I was assigned to. As noted, his door was always open to staff, students and parents. Our building was a Norton Family within itself, due to Eric Morris. I have been retired for several years now, but my memories of working with this “ Gentle Giant” will always be a Big Positive Reminder of what a Great Educator really is!

Carol Appke Posted over a year ago

Mr. Morris always exemplified patience and understanding when he was my older son’s teacher. My son, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, felt accepted by him. He always had time for any question or concerns my husband or I had. Eric Morris is most definitely a life changer in the lives of the Norton community’s children!