LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Melissa Morris

Position: Music Teacher
School: James Madison High School
School District: New York City Department of Education #22
City, State: Brooklyn, NY

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Melissa Morris was nominated by one of her students.

"Melissa was my first guitar and music teacher. I met her as a freshman in high school," explains the student. "I am now a professional guitarist and music teacher. She started me on my path. I cannot thank her enough for the education and guidance she gave me over the last 25 years! I am now an accomplished performing musician with a musical family and school that stemmed from Melissa. My school is the New York Guitar Academy and has been in business for 12 years. It was rated the top school in NYC for guitar classes and lessons from Time Out New York. I also have a family band that has over 250,000 followers on Instagram and has been featured on many media outlets. My family band is the Quarantined Quartet

"Melissa is my life-changing teacher and person. I am blessed to have her in my life," said the student.

Comments (112)

Mohammad Abdallah Posted over a year ago

Hi! Ms morris this Mohammad Abdallah I was a student at James madison and also a student at your class I don’t know if you remember but I tried helping you know Arabic one time since you wanted to go to dubai but I’m glad I’m able to reach out it has been a while I’m now gonna be 20 and I’m currently attending kingsborough college.

Saad S Posted over a year ago

I was a student of Ms Morris for 4 years in High School. Ms Morris taught music with a passion that is rarely seen in the highly structured NYC classroom. I had the privilege of being in Ms Morris’s World Percussion Ensemble for 3 years and served as manager and intern for Ms Morris during my senior year. It was a pleasure to see the determination and all of the actual work that Ms Morris put in to unify the community and the academic community. “Communification” is a word that should be in the dictionary, its certainly a word that all of Ms. Morris’s students know: community communication, that is the key to solving most of our interpersonal struggles and biases. Ms. Morris is a tremendous teacher, composer, director, but above all ARTIST. She deserves all of the praise she receives.

Phyllis Broughton Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a talented and dedicated music teacher, as well as, a single parent who is a caring loving Mom. She has the exceptional ability to encourage and motivate her students, even during these past very difficult school years. Her many accomplishments are very impressive and well deserved to her as a person, and as an educator. It is so fitting that Melissa Morris is nominated for "Life Changer". That is what Melissa has been doing throughout her personal life and her professional career.

Ricky Parsaram Posted over a year ago

I remember taking orchestra as one of my required electives in High School during my freshman year. At that time I was just looking for a class that didn’t require much studying. This is when I was first introduced to Melissa. One thing led to another and I found myself taking more music classes each year, participated in marching band, played in high school musicals, and even sought out for private lessons at the Brooklyn Conservatory. Melissa made learning fun and helped pushed me to be better. I will forever be grateful and hope to motivate and encourage those around me the same way she continues to do so for so many on a daily basis. She’s definitely made an impact in my life and ever so deserving of this award!

Brittany Young Posted over a year ago

Melissa and I first met when I was a student in Percussion Ensemble at the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies in 2009. Though I barely had any musical background or professional training, Melissa inspired me — as well as the rest of her students — and instilled hope and courage for me to learn these daunting instruments. Throughout my high school career, I found myself always retreating to music because of her classroom presence, engagement with her students, and incorporating of effective and meaningful teaching strategies I had never experienced before. Her true passion for educating influenced so many of her students to pursue teaching as a career which was a direct result from her integration of drum circle facilitation as an inclusive instructional strategy. Giving up lunches and prep periods (something I truly understand the value of as an educator myself), Melissa collaborated with students to create a team of leaders called Drum Circle Facilitator — students who harnessed the ability to teach people of all ages collaboration skills through percussion. Students from my graduating class even persuaded our principal to create a drum circle facilitation course with her as our instructor to further our community outreach! Over ten years later, I still find myself incorporating all of the management and collaboration skills I learned as a facilitator. She truly inspired me to become an educator. Even after traveling down different career paths, I always knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps and eventually stopped denying my passion which she ignited. Thank you, Melissa, for being an inspiring mentor, amazing person, and an influence in my future endeavors as well as the future endeavors of all your students. Through only her dedication she has changed lives and truly embodies the title of a LifeChanger.

Fran Maiorana Posted over a year ago

As a retired teacher as well as an outside observer in your professional life, I have had the opportunity of being able to see the magnitude of the impact your teaching life has on countless others, both near and far! From your exciting beginnings as a performing musician-- just out of music school – you were at-the-ready to hit the concert halls with your talents! But, wham! The instant thrust of a life altering accident would alter your course and change your performance profession overnight. It seemed in minutes you picked up the shattered pieces and dove into a path that would not only change you but those around you. From the students you would encounter year 1 in the classroom, to those you connect with across the globe, I know there is no end to the impact you have had. Your life is intertwined with so many people in such deep and profound ways that those people are passing on the treasured gifts infinitely. The student who made this nomination is a testimonial to that impact. 25 years ago you’d provide a path that would help her establish a truly fulfilling future and she would pass that on to her own students, and her own children who will then continue to do the same. Eventually, one of those people will be nominating her as their life changer and that’s all because the two of you met in your classroom 25 years ago. Wow! This is just one of those stories. I have seen many more like it as your sideline cheerleader and follower. I realize, they won’t all be motivated to document it like this beautiful former student did in this nomination. Educators don’t do what they do for the accolades or the gratitude, they do it because they know no other way to live. They are perpetually giving to others. Thank you, Melissa for giving, guiding and changing lives all along your professional path. You are indeed one incredible life-changer!

Mark Vondracek Posted over a year ago

Melissa and I first met as a result of the Global Teacher Prize. We were in the inaugural group of Top 50 teachers, and are now Ambassadors with that program; she is also an amazing friend in my life. She earned this global distinction through the amazing work she does with all students who cross her path, teaching them music theory and performance at the highest levels. But it goes beyond the classroom. Being a true LifeChanger is a title held for those who help students become better human beings, which is something that doesn't just end at the end of a class - it lasts a lifetime, and the world is better because of it. Her compassion and empathy are at levels I rarely see in people. She is relentless, and is always thinking about what more can she do to help a child, or how to better present and teach something. She also does not just talk about a problem, she prefers to take it on and try to solve it! This is what she did shortly after the Parkland shootings, and having had enough of the inaction over twenty years of school shootings, she helped create and form the National Coalition for Safe Schools. Looking to make a difference and not worrying about whether she will be recognized for it, Melissa embodies what LifeChanger means. I am so thrilled for her that a former student put in this nomination, because I know how much that means to her!

Kelly cammarata Posted over a year ago

Melissa Was one of the greatest influences in my sons life. As a teacher and mentor it would be difficult to find anyone better. When my son entered high school he was on crutches and told he would take music instead if gym. It was life changing, he became engaged in school and music. He became a leader in school and this drive continued outside of school. Melissa’s hard work and dedication to her students is mirrored in each student that she comes in contact with. Her students don’t just leave a better musician but as leaders and better humans!

Juneslater Posted over a year ago

I have known Melissa Morris for many years. I have been impress with her amazing talent amd ability to teach students who will love music taught By Melissa. Melissa is so very deserving of this prestigious award,we need more teachers like Melissa Morris!

Dave Evans Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Morris, Melissa now, was an important part of my young high school life, as she herself was just becoming a teacher at the time. She was an integral part of the formation and success of the school's marching band. The life lessons and camaraderie that blossomed under her instruction continue to this day.

Charles Packowski Posted over a year ago

I’ve always loved and cherished my mother, but seeing all of these great people cherishing my mom as I do is a great thing to see. Keep it up mom!

Aly Stoffo Posted over a year ago

I definitely recommend Melissa! Such a life changer.

Jonathan Simons Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a wonderful person and teacher - as her various awards attest - and it’s so wonderful to see this fully deserved nomination from her student!

Catherine Nakabugo Posted over a year ago

I am honored to know Mellisa. She is a top 50 finalist of the Global Teacher Prize and her passion for music is compared to none

Maggie MacDonnell Posted over a year ago

Melissa is the dream teacher every parent wants for their kid. She truly loves her students just as fiercely as their own families do. For many students who carry trauma, difficulty, or challenges into the classroom - she digs deep and goes that extra mile to find (if not sometimes invent!) ways to connect with them. Then she shares with them the gift of music so that they can connect with themselves, finding ways to process their experiences through the medium of music. She is a true treasure in the global education community - and her work has been spotlighted on numerous platforms. I think it is so fitting to see her celebrated as a “life changer” - 2 words that so well match what she does as an educator.

Joann Sapienza Posted over a year ago

Ms Morris, I’m so Happy for you! You are truly the BEST! You made my family so happy, by showing my son Nino how to play guitar! We are all so amazed by Ninos love for playing, and talent which we knew nothing about until you came along! So THANK YOU!!! If not for you Ms Morris, Nino would have never knew the love he has for the guitar and music! You gave him a guitar to come home with and practice and he learned so much in such a small amount of time ! Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher and for making a family so Proud & Happy! God Bless you and all the teachers of Madison !

Jordan Minchew Posted over a year ago

Ms. Morris is beyond deserving of this nomination! Ms. Morris created a wonderful classroom environment and created a community of past and present students. She is an educator that cares even outside of the classroom. I was lucky to have Ms. Morris as a teacher and continue to stay in touch. She is a Life Changer!

Jonathan Lugo Posted over a year ago

Melissa was the best teacher I’ve EVER had. Her personable and patient nature fostered significant growth for my classmates and myself. There were times when I had no drive to learn or participate in anything music-related, but she always knew how change that. If I could, I’d be a student in her classroom for a lifetime. Melissa is a true inspiration and I hope she can continue to have a lasting impact on her students.

James Behan, Jr. Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of being one of the first "class" of Miss Morris' students as she began teaching at James Madison High School when I was a freshman 25 years ago...a number that doesn't feel that long ago! She brought the powerful energy of a "brand-new" teacher looking to educate, inspire, and evoke in her students hearts a life-long love of music. She helped re-establish guitar and strings education to Madison's music department, which reached a set of students that may not have been engaged with music through band or chorus classes. My first guitar lessons were with Miss Morris over a summer school session and I have built on those beginner principles ever since. Her role in bringing the Bertelsmann World of Expression program to our school in the late '90s/early '00s was pivotal in my life as it was through there that I discovered my love and skill for songwriting: a skill that was awarded as a senior in 2000 through the World of Expression contest and again in 2017 when I won the Archdiocese of New Orleans' Tricentennial Hymn Competition. Social media has shown the ways she continues to innovate in the classroom and connect students around the world and throughout her network of alumni. Above all, Miss Morris was a special role model to me at a critical age of what an adult and a mentor looks like: selflessly sharing their time and talents with others, encouraging and fair when correction is needed, and to teach through the example of my authentic life. I hope that I have been able to do the same for other young adults in my career and that I am a reflection of Miss Morris' influence on my life. She is a life-changer and very deserving of this honor!

Caitlyn Koback Posted over a year ago

Ms. Morris is the type of teacher who’s words and lessons stay with a student for life. While, I was only lucky enough to have her as a teacher for one year, I continued to be inspired by her as she played a monumental role in our schools community. She absolutely deserves to be the FIRST musical teacher awarded Life Changer of the Year!

Maria Gagliardo Posted over a year ago

Melissa is not only a wonderful person who is kind and considerate but also a highly qualified educator who is dedicated to nurturing the love of music to her students. Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious and in turn her students create beautiful music.

Tirath Singh Posted over a year ago

Melissa was one of the best teachers I’ve had. She knew how to engage her students to pass on her passion for music and implement it into a form of Art.

Marj Brown Posted over a year ago

Hi Melissa, congrats on your nomination. As an international colleague in education, I wish you all the best in this process, knowing what a difference you make to so many. Regards Marj

Wendy Posted over a year ago

Awesome work. Privilege to support you

Eugene Plotkin Posted over a year ago

Melissa is not only a great teacher, but also someone who is very passionate about what she does. She has the utmost dedication, wonderful approach, and friendly demeanor that helps educate and inspire young minds to reach for more. I’ve had a pleasure of being in her class years ago and remember looking forward to it every time. Although I am not a professional musician now, I am one of the founders of Forte International Music Competition and Festivals nonprofit organization, dedicated to discovering and developing talented musicians through competitions, festivals, and other performing opportunities. Thank you for making an impact in my life. I wish you good luck and continued success in your musical journey!

Judy Bremner Posted over a year ago

I met Melissa through the National Coalition for Safe Schools. Melissa is an amazing woman and has a heart of gold. Many people don’t get involved in “preventing school violence” until something happens to them personally. This was NOT the case with Melissa. She dedicated endless hours to keeping students across the Country safe. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award!

Fiona Posted over a year ago

I was fortunate enough to have Ms.Morris as my music teacher as well as my home room advisor in high school. She is well deserving of this award because she shows a great deal of empathy and guidance to her students. She is a great educator and will always find creative way to get students going and also to be more passionate about music!

Naomi Volain Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris and I met in Dubai in 2015 as Finalists for the million dollar Global Teacher Prize. This recognition shows the international scope of educator that Melissa is. I saw her excitement and intense commitment to her students with music. We were immediately 'sister teachers,' though my discipline is science. We agreed, the most important question to be answered in teaching is, what's best for the students? Melissa has many answers to this question. I believe Melissa should be selected as Life Changer of the Year because of the way she has taught her students against all odds, during the continuing and present COVID pandemic academic year. Music, like science, is a hands-on discipline. She's found a myriad of ways to reach her students during this time - reaching out musically, personally, and providing incredibly creative outlets for her students to sustain their music.

Jeremiah Davis Posted over a year ago

My name is Jeremiah Davis and I am 13 years old. Miss Morris is a very important person to me. She reached out to me during a very hard time in my life. I had suffered abuse earlier that year and she heard I loved music. She encouraged me to write a song and I was recognized for it in Russia. She showed me that I am not my situation and I can turn it into music to help someone else. I have been writing more and more. Thank you for seeing what was inside of me.?? You deserve this award and so much more.

Arlinda Davis Posted over a year ago

A remarkable leader! A remarkable teacher! A remarkable friend! These words are just a small taste of greatness that Melissa brings to the table. Her pure heart and soul for teaching music has truly set her apart from the rest. Her passion for her students and inviting them in to her love of music is seen among the lives of her students. She is in tune with their social and emotional needs and shows them through her teaching methods. She has a fan base of former students that always praise her teaching and that she helped change their lives. I am also grateful for her gifts and talents that I was able to meet her through another life changing award. She is a true woman of greatness, kindness, and plenty of wisdom to share- She is a Life-changer for sure.

Anette Lentini Posted over a year ago

I believe this award titled “Life- Changer” was made for Ms. Melissa Morris. I worked alongside her for 8 years and was able to watch how she had such a positive influence on those that she taught. Her passion for music, teaching and her students came through loudly during her concerts. Her enthusiasm was contagious, to watch her conduct was a privilege and I did so with awe. When the school we worked at just opened and instruments were at minimum, I thought how can she get this to work. She didn’t let this “minor problem” stop her from using her creativity to have the students produce great music. Out came ladders, construction buckets, and other random items she found around the auditorium. Well, that first concert, astounded me, as it did the audience What a night it was, standing ovation was well deserved. She thinks out of the box, she using her skills, her passion and her love of teaching to make a difference each and every day. Do I think she deserves this award? You bet I do!!

Jimmy Rotheram Posted over a year ago

As a Global Teacher Prize nominee, Melissa is one of the few music teachers with a worldwide profile, and it is one that is well-earned. Her work is all about inspiring and empowering others, With her own students, she goes above and beyond music teaching to work on developing the whole person. Outside of school, Melissa works hard to raise the profile of our systemcially neglected subject, and of music teachers everywhere.

Kenneth Chen Posted over a year ago

This is a well deserved nomination. Ms. Morris was my teacher over 20 years ago. I remember she was involved in all aspects of the Music Department and sought the best of her students. What made her stood out was her passion to cultivate our hidden talents we never knew existed. Ms. Morris is a patient, compassionate and kind educator and more importantly, she is a master of her craft.

Silvana Carnicero Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a teacher i met years ago when she was shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize. Evidently, she was already changing lives with her way of teaching and her commitment to the art she teaches. I really believe she is a life changer

Steven Posted over a year ago

Melissa is an excellent teacher. I was in a guitar enable but wanted to play bass and she helped me play the bass!

David J Wish Posted over a year ago

Through my work, I have had the privilege of seeing hundreds of amazing music teachers in action. Melissa is just one of the best of the best! The dedication, joy, hard work and brilliance that she brings to her students is an inspiration not only to them but so many of Melissa's peers, myself included!

Mike Amari Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris was one of the most important people in my life. Though it sounds like hyperbole, it seems inadequate when enumerating the ways in which I was shaped into a better person simply for having her as a teacher. I could fill volumes outlining why she is simply a stellar human being but I believe two examples from my time as her guitar student illustrate what she brings to the world In preparation for my first concert as a guitar student our class had worked on the flamenco tune "The Night". During this performance we were each given a moment to step foward and have a brief solo. Melissa always made sure her students had an opportunity to shine. The night of the concert I stressed a bit as I was used to being hidden safely in the ensemble horn section in our symphonic band, I was not used to, nor did I feel worthy of, a spotlight; no matter how brief. The time came, I stepped up and executed my solo. I had no confidence that I did well and stepped away with my head down wanting nothing more than to retreat. While conducting, Melissa Morris saw me like this, stepped in front of me, made sure to make eye contact and was clapping for me as she turned me toward the audience. She wanted to make sure I saw and heard the audience cheering for me. She made sure I understood that what I did was worthy and that I should hold my head high. This is a moment I carry with me to this day, one I think of often and a sentiment I try to instill and pass onto my own students whenever possible The other moment is really a series of moments. The following year I was preparing for a NYSSMA solo (which I did due to her suggestion). She spent the better part of two months spending at least one free period every day in what I am sure were unpaid coverages to prepare me for my first fingerstyle solo. The patience, grace and excitement with which she worked with me is, again, something I go back to often and the reason why I always make myself available to my students, particularly ones in crisis. Something I'm not sure I ever told her: one of the reasons these were so impactful for me is because it was during a time when my father's cancer was re-emerging. Diving into guitar was a way to keep myself emotionally centered and also a way to further bond with my father, as he was a guitar player. To this day I cherish most my memory of playing " me an Julio down by the schoolyard" on my porch with my dad. It was a song he played often for me as a small, small child. I was learning that song because Melissa had selected it for the concert. He's been gone now 21 years and because of Melissa Morris I have this moment to remember forever. Thank you Ms. Morris. I hope you understand what you have meant to all of your atudents

Jeremy Batchelor Posted over a year ago

This is a well deserved nomination. Melissa Morris is one of those teachers that truly cares about her students and about the music she teaches. When I had her as a teacher it was pretty early in her career and even then I knew she was a teacher that would change many lives though music. Her passion for music and teaching are unlike any other teacher I have ever had.

Barbara Merjan Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is the most outstanding person. She has inspired countless students and colleagues (no small feat!) to strive to be their best and to work together across all kinds of boundaries. Her influence and guidance has had an extremely positive and lasting effect, as evidenced by the number of her students that go into the music business, stay connected to the valuable skill of making music. They stay in touch with her and each other. My vote is strongly for Ms. Morris as lifechangeroftheyear award.

Michelle Magrone Posted over a year ago

As a parent of one of Melissa’s students, I am so thankful we met !!! I was so impressed to see the positive effect she has on her students. I truly believe Melissa is a big part of why my son is so passionate about music and pursuing a career in it today. Thanks to Melissa so many kids are able to gain a confidence and passion for the art of music.

Jodie Cohen Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a true inspiration. Our community was so lucky she chose to come back to Madison. Her drive, passion and dedication bring out the best in all of us. I am honored to call you a colleague and thank you for all you do for the students and staff at Madison.

Sean O’Hara Posted over a year ago

Can’t think of a better nominee. I had the privilege of working with Melissa during the first two years of my career. Not only is she a phenomenal teacher of children, but also of all who had and have the opportunity to work with her. In my current role as a Principal, I often reflect upon things I learned from her as a colleague. She has vision, and is full of passion for education. Her energy is contagious! I highly recommend without reservation!

Aron Kontorovich Posted over a year ago

Melissa can be a breathe of fresh air, always thinking about students first. During remote teaching and returning to an anything but normal year, Melissa was a life line for me. Especially as a young teacher, it's easy to lose sight of why we do what we do with all the challenges thrown our way these last two years and I'm not sure how I would have made it to the end of last year if it wasn't for her friendship, mentorship, and encouragement.

Kelly DiTrani Posted over a year ago

I’m so happy to see Melissa Morris being recognized as a “life changer” nominee. As Melissa’s co-worker, I saw endless hours of work and passion poured into her music classes,concerts, drum circles, class trips, etc. Melissa wanted to give every student a worldwide musical experience that they would take with them well beyond highschool. Talking to former students and reading these comments show that Melissa was an extraordinary person all the way around. I’m proud to have worked so Closely with her and definitely consider her a “life changer”.

Jason Hills Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of being among Ms. Morris' first students when she joined James Madison High School in 1997 and started the guitar program. Ms. Morris taught me many valuable lessons that - 25 years later - still serve me well . Some that come to mind: one should study the form and technique of a craft before relying on instinct; when working as an ensemble, it is just as important to get to know your band/teammates as it is to get to know your sheet music; thinking carefully about the history, style and intention of a creator (composer, arranger, etc.) will bring a piece of music to life; leading with patience and understanding brings out the best in people. No single experience was more impactful on my adolescence than my time studying and performing music at JMHS. I am forever grateful for the time I had as a student to Ms. Morris and the other music teachers from 94-98. I am thrilled that I reconnected with Ms. Morris in 2020 and we have since collaborated on a few projects together. She is truly one of a kind. Looking forward to working with both Ms. Morris and her students again in the future.

Maria Bucca Posted over a year ago

Melissa is one of the hardest working, most caring, living teachers ever! She is absolutely amazing and she is truly a gift to all her students. Her students are more than just students, they are her children! Anyone who has her as a teacher is lucky to have her because she teaches unconditionally! Melissa us just awesome and pure magic

Dr Ed Dunkelblau Posted over a year ago

In my 40 year career in Education I have met many talented and creative teachers. Melissa Morris is by far one of the most compassionate, committed and creative professionals that I have ever encountered. In addition to her teaching duties she has dedicated herself to helping make schools and students safer through her founding membership and tireless work on the board of the National Coalition for Safe Schools. She is a kind, caring human being who is beloved by her students and her colleagues. She truly is a life changer and an inspiration to all who meet or work with her. I am proud to know her. She is an exemplar of all that is right in the field of education.

Andrews Posted over a year ago

I live and work in Malawi , the warm heart of Africa.The nomination couldn't be time timely to a deserving teacher in the name of Melisa..We watch and follow her music teachings just right here in Africa -Malawi.She is an inspiration to young and budding Malawian music students

Victoria Lydon Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Morris was my guitar teacher in 2009 (13 years ago!) and to this day I can still remember the confidence she instilled in me as a young high school freshman with a love of music. She taught so much more than music, she taught us to believe in ourselves and our passions. Her faith in me was something that I brought with me to college at Saint Joseph’s University, where I played guitar, a song I actually learned in her classroom, at an open mic nights hosted by the university radio station, Radio1851. By my senior year I was one of the Radio1851 station managers, DJ of my own weekly show, and hosting (& still performing at) those open mic nights. Those experiences helped me land my first job out of college. Mrs. Morris helped change the course of my life, and obviously so many other students lives, by believing in us. She is the only teacher that still checks in on my graduating class, and helped us organize a fundraiser and memorial scholarship in honor of one of our fellow CSIHS classmates who passed away. Once you have been her student, the support she shows doesn’t end once the semester is over, it continues throughout life.

Michael Yedin Posted over a year ago

This nomination couldn’t have gone to a more deserving teacher. Melissa has made a great impact on my life as well as so many of my peers. I still play bass to this very day and am thankful for all of her thoughtful lessons and patience. She is truly an amazing person and all of her students are very lucky to have her!

Tripp Aldredge Posted over a year ago

I met Melissa over a decade ago at a global education conference in NYC. She (and her students) blew me away with their leadership through drum circles. The memory stuck with me and and I looked her up when my school was embarking on a mission to incorporate global education in our curriculum. She was so gracious and helpful – full of ideas and inspiration! She hopped on a plane to NC and invigorated our staff as we built excitement for our endeavor. She is the consummate educator, always making those around her think and grow. She is mesmerizing, able to draw-in complete strangers and have them eating from the palm of her hand! She models this as a continuous learner herself. I can only imagine what it must be like for her own students that get to be with her daily. The education world needs more passionate geniuses like Melissa! Brava on this recognition! It is well-deserved!

Osvaldo Lee Posted over a year ago

I'm not surprised that Melissa Morris was nominated for this award! While I wasn't fortunate enough to be under her direct tutelage (I was in band), I recall her always taking time to make sure I was doing well, as if I was one of her very own. Her kindness, selflessness, generosity, and the gift of the joy of music she shares with all who enter her doors (and even those of us who putzed around in the band room ??) is what makes her special. All of the wonderful comments and this nomination after decades of impact further prove she is more than deserving of this honor!

Maarit Rossi Posted over a year ago

She is creative music teacher connecting students in schools, not only in her country but between countries.

Ayub Mohamud Posted over a year ago

Have worked with Melissa as part of the Global teacher Prize network ambassadors. She is not only assionate about her teaching career but as well Music and Peace . She is the classromm voice of tolerance and peace in a turbulent world . Wish you well.

Rashmi Kathuria Posted over a year ago

Mellisa is a passionate music teacher. I met her in Dubai when we were invited by Varkey Foundation for the Global Teacher Prize conferences and prize ceremony. We were amongst top 50 teachers. I have seen her work with colleagues as I got a chance to connect with them via video conferencing. They all were excited to share their work. It was made possible only because of Mellisa. I am fortunate to be connected with her. I really wish her best of luck. She is a life changer.

Christopher Smart Posted over a year ago

Ms. Morris is an excellent and deserving teacher/leader, who makes a lasting impression on her students. I vividly remember her course which was an enjoyable way to break up the monotony of the remainder of a stressful school day. I was able to learn to play Taiko drums and still remember the performance which brought students together who may have not otherwise shared a word, who then formed a bond through music.

Francis Jim Tuscano Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris loves to celebrate life through music. She has dedicated her life to empowering students to tell their stories through the art and beauty of music. This, she does not only do in her classroom but also with other students in the world through her global collaboration with music teachers from different parts of the globe. What a wonderful way to celebrate life through music inspired by diverse cultures but connected and united by a single reason - to celebrate life!

Sara Fischman Posted over a year ago

I took Mrs. Morris's guitar class over 10 years ago, and remember it fondly. As one of the many students in the class that had never picked up a guitar before, I was so proud of myself when I learned to play my first song in her class. I remember feeling a strong determination in Mrs. Morris's class, that didn't always persist into others. While it couldn't have been easy to teach 30 some odd teenagers to play guitar, Mrs. Morris sparked enthusiasm during every class period with her vibrant energy and positivity. On days that we were allowed to take the guitars home to practice, I carried mine on the bus and the walk home like I was carrying a newborn. Mrs. Morris trusted us to care for the instruments and I wanted to keep that trust! Mrs. Morris taught her classes about respect for these beautiful guitars and then entrusted us with their care. I think through that trust she taught us about respect, privilege and responsibility. At the end of the semester our class put on a show for our friends and family. We were a large group of kids, all with teenage anxiety and acne, but the way Mrs. Morris was able to unite us that night, with her tireless guidance was awe inspiring. I felt a huge sense of pride that evening, for me and for my classmates, that we, a bunch of suburban kids, could come together put on a show. It was a meaningful moment for me, and throughout my time at highschool I always thought back at how Mrs. Morris encouraged us to create and through that, helped us come out of shells and be seen.

Ralph Jacques Posted over a year ago

Ms. P as the student body affectionately called her. She has been changing lives with her energy and caring. She touched everyone she has come in contact with. No matter when you can to her or what she has going on, she would stop and listen. I lost my parents early before I got to the school. Ms. P never let me feel that I was alone in this world. I can't thank her enough. If you don't give her this award then you guys arr making the biggest mistake ever.

Michael Dunlea Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Melissa for several years. She has inspired me to be a better educator. Watching her transform the lives of her students is wonderful to witness. We met through the Varkey Foundation as Global Top Teacher Prize Finalists. She is a true teacher leader who elevates other educators as she models how to redefine our limits. Melissa is a true Life Changer.

Mariya Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Morris is a wonderful music teacher and should be awarded without reservations. She’s so amazing and taught me how to play the violin. I thank her to today even after 22 years ago. Thank you!

Kenneth Santiago Posted over a year ago

Hello to the Board and Panel members of dedicated educators, innovators, and standard setters. I thank you all for the Thankless work you do and service you collectively provide to the students of our Nation. Our students are our children, irreplaceable and at times too easily impressionable. This youth is also our future in Leadership, Leaders that will materialize in the form of Doctors, Lawyers and Public servants. They will also manifest in the form of great Military Leaders, that dedicate their life daily to the protection of our nations freedoms and when called upon, the protection of others. My name is Kenneth Santiago and I am a retired SFC, Combat Veteran (2001 – 2021) and a college graduate. I served in the U.S. Army and I am recipient of the Bronze star (Combat Deployment 4 of 6). I met Melissa Morris while attending High School at James Madison (1994 – 1998), around 1996. I feel no shame in admitting that her mentorship, unwavering patience and commitment to young men and ladies alike are what saved my life. Unknowingly, Ms. Morris inspired me as a young man that felt lost and believed he was broken, that his destiny had already been decided for him (Due to my situation at home with my father). She accomplished this, with her style of teaching, selfless attitude and an uncanny knack to help young people see the potential they have and begin to apply themselves. Throughout life, we are sometimes fortunate to know unconditional love from our mothers, but I am twice as fortunate as the next man. Because I have known and experienced this from my mother, and Melissa Morris. Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for your time and consideration. Central Texas College Nashville State Community College Purdue University Global Associates in Applied Science 2017 Technical Cert in Mechatronics 2021 Bachelors of Science 2023 Kenneth Santiago

Steve Revington Posted over a year ago

An amazing person and incredible educator that devotes enormous time and energy in creating positive, well connected music learning experiences. Melissa profoundly impacts each student she teaches.

Barbara Riccardi Posted over a year ago

Wooow! You deserve it! You're an amazing woman and teacher!

Robert M Rams Posted over a year ago

Melissa Is an amazing educator who cares deeply about her students. Dedication, innovative, passionate, creative, and class act, all things that Melissa does naturally.

Koen Timmers Posted over a year ago

I am proud to be connected with globally recognized teachers who are doing their part to change the lives of so many in their little corner of the world. As a fellow GTP ambassador, I am excited to read Melissa’s nomination. Even as a first year teacher, she was changing lives and those lives will change others and the circle will continue for all eternity.

Sahar Fayyad Posted over a year ago

I am Sahar Fayyad from Jordan. I work as the principal of Tla' Al-Ali School, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Education. Melissa and I have been friends since 2017 I strongly nominate Educator Melissa Morris for the Life Changer Award For several reasons, the most important of which are: The teacher Melissa has a great sense of how she feels with others, which is reflected positively on her performance as a wonderful music teacher. In addition to her ability as an inspiring teacher to lead the real change of generations through music, which is the language of love and peace. I can tell she is a creative leader by spreading a culture of change using music. Melissa was able to create a community of teachers network from all countries of the world as an ambassador for education around the world for the British Varkey Foundation, being one of the 50 best teachers in the world in 2017. And she still has a wonderful impact on her fellow teachers. Where you exchange knowledge and experience. Sahar Fayyad

Maria Perrone Posted over a year ago

An extraordinary person, teacher and mentor. Melissa met both my boys at a very young age. One of my sons is profoundly deaf. Melissa brought music into his life in many ways. After his cochlear implant the music he was able to enjoy was so broad and Melissa contributed to his ability to appreciate it. Our family was blessed to have her influence in our life. She was and is a life changer for us!!!

Miriam Mason-Sesay Posted over a year ago

Melissa is the sort of professional, creative and compassionate teacher that every child needs to have at least one of. She has transformed hundreds of life through sharing her great passion for music and music-making but also by giving attention to each individual in her class. Can’t imagine a more appropriate candidate for this prize.

Brian McDaniel Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is a musical force of nature. She serves will great distinction by leading the Music Teacher for Global Peace, a founding member of the National Coalition for School Safety, a Top 10 Global Teacher Prize Nominee, a Varkey Teacher Ambassador, an amazing Guitarist, and now a Life Changer of the Year Nominee. I am beyond overjoyed Melissa is being recognized for her wonderful contributions to students worldwide!

Dhaval Bathia Posted over a year ago

The best testimonial for a teacher is the success of his/her student and the fact that Melissa has been nominated by a very successful student speaks volumes about how fantastic she is! I have known Melissa not only as a great music teacher but an incredibly awesome human being. You can feel the warmth and humility when you connect with her. She is full of positivity and a very friendly person. Melissa is truly a life changer (having transformed the lives of so many thousands of students) and a truly exceptional person!

Adam Issadore Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Melissa and collaborated with her on several projects. She is an excellent teacher who always puts the needs if her students first. Melissa consistently strives to innovate and create unique ways of engagingvwith her students and the communities thatvshe serves.

Brittany Walsh Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of being one of Melissa’s students when we did a collaboration with orchestra and band. She was always very enthusiastic and encouraged us to be our best self. I still keep in contact with her to this day. Despite being a lover of music she is also an animal lover like me and is a very compassionate person!

Souad Belcaid Posted over a year ago

I have had the tremendous fortune of working with Melissa as a Global Teacher and friend. I've known Melissa Morris since 2015 when the Varkey Foundation nominated both of us for The Global Teacher Prize. For a few years, we had the good fortune of attending the GESF summit together. Humble, thoughtful, inspirational, innovative, inclusive, and caring, Melissa is a deserving recipient of the Life Changer of the Year award. Her dedication to music education and her students is admirable and deserves to be acknowledged with this special award.

Dr. Joe Underwood Posted over a year ago

Truly making a difference in students' lives drives Melissa Morris as she prepares students for success. As a music teacher, her outstanding skills and dedication to student learning enabled Melissa to be recognized as one of the Top 50 Teachers in the World in the 2018 Global Teacher Prize and one of only six U.S. educators to reach such a highly effective level that year. While I am not a music teacher myself, I spent 35 years teaching in the same Fine Arts department (TV Production) in my Miami, FL high school alongside some very gifted music educators and I can certainly see why the teaching of music has such a valuable impact on improving life skills such as cognition, collaboration, and creativity - skills that translate to academic improvement across the curriculum. Melissa Morris devotes her life to preparing students to pursue their goals and touches their lives in a very positive manner. Ms. Morris is certainly an outstanding candidate and an consummate example of a respected life changer for both her students and everyone she comes into contact with.

Alex Kajitani Posted over a year ago

Melissa’s passion, expertise and commitment to her students and the teaching profession make us all better - every single day. She not only deserves this award, she embodies it!

Tom Johnston Posted over a year ago

Melissa and I go way back. She student taught with me as a senior at the Hartt School of Music. I have been following her career ever since! At this point in her career, she has touched in a positive way so many students. She is a wonderful teacher that teaches life through music which I feel is the highest calling of a teacher. Her passion for students and music is evident on a daily basis and I am so proud that she began her path of student teaching with me years ago. As I read the testimonials of her passion, caring and energy are so apparent. Melissa is truly a special person and teacher!

Charles Connelly Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is one of the few reasons I actually enjoyed my time throughout high school. Her classroom allowed for fun and creativity. Her lessons prepared me for my bachelors of science in music. Thank you for what you have given me Melissa!

Santhi karamcheti Posted over a year ago

I have known Melissa through GlobalTeacherPrize. She is one of my favourites. The amount of empathy she has for not just the students but for her colleagues too is simply very amazing. She is always ready to help, uplift and encourage everyone without second thoughts. Melissa is not just smart, intelligent, empathetic, loving and caring but a very innovative teacher too! It’s always enormously intriguing to have conversations with her. She is a woman of substance, extremely inspiring and self driven. It’s my pure good luck and an honour to have met her.

Michael Soskil Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a fantastic teacher and an advocate for arts education. She has inspired her students, her colleagues, and educators around the world. She is definitely a “Life-changer.”

Nancy Barile Posted over a year ago

Melissa is one of the hardest working, most compassionate and caring teachers I’ve ever known. Her skill and knowledge as a teacher is amazing. As a colleague, I find her profoundly inspirational!

Xuxo Ruiz Posted over a year ago

Melissa it's and incredible teacher. I'm from Spain and we've been connected sharing teachers experiences and I've learnt a lot with her. Congratulations, Melissa! You deserve all awards!!! Hugs from Spain

Angela Tong Posted over a year ago

I fully support Melissa Morris! She was that bright and fun teacher that liven up my highschool days. Not only did she expand my views and love for music. She has helped me learn how to be confident, how to be a leader, how to be a helper, how to teach, etc. At a time where I was still figuring out myself and my passion, her class would be the place that I felt unpressured and happy. Out of the 15+ years when I learned strict classical piano, her class felt like a breath of ecstatic wild energy and it made me love music all over again! I'm grateful for her presence in my life and for this program that will recognize the efforts and love that Ms.Morris has put in over the years...not only affecting music/art in education but also in the lives of students she's touched. Thanks and to the finish line!

Elisa Guerra Posted over a year ago

Melissa is truly an innovative and inspiring teacher! She has helped me, as a fellow teacher and my students in Mexico, to participate in many musical performances across borders and using technology - she would be a most deserving recipient for this award!

Merit Posted over a year ago

As a teacher, Melissa makes music cross borders - geographically, culturally, genre-wise, age-wise:)

Tom Whisinnand Posted over a year ago

Ms. Morris is one of the absolutely most amazing educators that I have known. The love and dedication that she has for each and everyone of her students is unparalleled. Her dedication not only extends to her own classroom, but it continues on throughout the globe. The passion that she shares with the world is unequaled. Not only do her students learn to love music, they learn to love life and they become valuable pieces of society. Without a doubt, Ms. Morris is a Life Changer!!

Tom Whisinnand Posted over a year ago

Ms. Morris is one of the absolutely most amazing educators that I have known. The love and dedication that she has for each and everyone of her students is unparalleled. Her dedication not only extends to her own classroom, but it continues on throughout the globe. The passion that she shares with the world is unequaled. Not only do her students learn to love music, they learn to love life and they become valuable pieces of society. Without a doubt, Ms. Morris is a Life Changer!!

Alina Khan Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is an impactful, passionate, and thoughtful educator. As a former student, I have seen firsthand how much she cares for her students and genuinely wants to share her love of music with the world. Although I am not a musician, her passion and care as an educator has had a lifelong impact on me and is something I carry with me to this very day. I can’t think of anyone more deserving!

Ron Davis Alvarez Posted over a year ago

continue changing the lives of many students , your knowledge and the impact is incredible . bravo !! ????????????????????????

Ashley Aydin Posted over a year ago

Melissa is one of the best teachers I’ve had. She was my high school music and homeroom teacher. She has such a positivity about her. She always sees the potential in her students. A student never forgets that. Thank you for everything Melissa!

Ewa Drobek, Poland Posted over a year ago

Melissa is a true changer of people's hearts. She is incredibly hardworking and encourages people to advocate for children and youth around the world. We are thousands miles apart, but that hasn't stopped her from encouraging me to do so much internationally. An amazing teacher, friend and human being. She certainly deserves this wonderful award.

Grace Rondinelli-Williams Posted over a year ago

I was a young teacher when Melissa Morris first entered my professional life and my heart. That tiny tween, age ten or eleven, impressed me then with her intelligence, energy, and devotion to our school’s gymnastic and music programs. Her energy and sense of humor were boundless. She became a linchpin of our gymnastic program for several years. She was the bridge of support, encouragement, and humor for the other students and even her teacher coaches. I’ve been blessed to watch her mature into a devoted, innovative, inspirational teacher of music. I know that she has continued to be an incredible role model because I have repeatedly witnessed the life changing impact she has had on her students’ lives throughout her career. I can think of no other educator in my life that has had the impact that she has had on her students and their families. I consider myself blessed to know her and count her as a friend. She is truly an awesome individual!

Lauren Callahan Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Melissa as both her student and as her colleague. She is one of the reasons I pursued a career in music. Her classroom remains one of the most exciting rooms in the building!! She has created so many amazing opportunities for her students. I've watched her build programs from scratch that have benefitted so many people! Anyone who has the opportunity to learn from her... Student or adult should be honored!

John Henry Sheridan Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is that rare blend of teacher, motivator, enthusiastic coach and good human being that one cannot help but be glad to have as a presence in one's life. I appreciate what she taught me in terms of getting me started on the classical guitar. I appreciate that she encouraged me to compose my first guitar ensemble piece. I appreciate that she has been a positive and inspiring presence in my life since I met her when she began teaching at James Madison in the late 90's. Lifechanger Award, yes !

Alan Weintraub Posted over a year ago

Whenever someone asks me how I became a guitar player and why I decided to become a music teacher, Melissa Morris is one of the first people I mention! As my high school guitar and orchestra teacher, Melissa brought out a love for music in me. She inspired me to become a professional musician and music teacher. She is one of the most passionate and caring music educators I know. She truly believes in her students and fosters their musical development to bring them to their highest potential. Melissa is a wonderful guide and gifted educator. I am so grateful for the transformative figure that she is in my life and I surely wouldn't be who or where I am without her. Melissa is my life-changer!

Tyler Magrone Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of studying under Mrs Morris throughout most of my time in High School, and I can say with confidence that Mrs Morris is unequivocally one of the greatest teachers and mentors I’ve ever had. Her enthusiasm for sculpting young musicians is just as strong if not stronger than her passion for the art itself. I’m here today at 22 years old chasing my dreams as a musician and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here without the influence, guidance, and teachings of Mrs Morris.

David Wertz Posted over a year ago

Melissa has been one of the most influential mentors to me for my most recent endeavors. I have had the dream to teach and serve the students of NYC. She has helped me with my application journey and has been a crucial resource for me as a first year teacher. She has provided me with resources, lesson ideas and most importantly encouragement to bring my best to my students. She did all of this during a national teacher shortage, she pandemic AND caring for a family. I am so incredibly thankful for her involvement in my journey and congratulate her for this well deserved recognition. Without any doubt she deserves this honor.

Jacqueline Armao Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is not only an amazing music teacher, but an amazing human being inside and out! Having her as my teacher in high school opened up the doorway for my deeper appreciation of music and musicians and their hard work and dedication to their craft. Melissa is one of the most caring teachers I’ve encountered in my life time. She takes the time to get to know her students struggles, and celebrates every accomplishment big or small they may make. No better person could be nominated for this honor.

Lorraine Deacy Posted over a year ago

I met Melissa my first year teaching in a new school and after making a major switch from teaching in elementary to high school. She was one of the warmest welcoming teachers I encountered. She immediately opened up her classroom to me and invited my classes in, during her free periods, to guide us in connecting my ESL students with the international community virtually (before "virtual" was popular). She has always gone out of her way to be a leader in our school and offer support to other colleagues, even organizing a colleague night-out to engage with other like-minded professionals. Melissa clearly prioritizes students' emotional well-being above all else and I have always admired that in her. She is definitely one of the most inspiring teachers I know!

Lorraine Deacy Posted over a year ago

I met Melissa my first year teaching in a new school and after making a major switch from teaching in elementary to high school. She was one of the warmest welcoming teachers I encountered. She immediately opened up her classroom to me and invited my classes in, during her free periods, to guide us in connecting my ESL students with the international community virtually (before "virtual" was popular). She has always gone out of her way to be a leader in our school and offer support to other colleagues, even organizing a colleague night-out to engage with other like-minded professionals. Melissa clearly prioritizes students' emotional well-being above all else and I have always admired that in her. She is definitely one of the most inspiring teachers I know!

Candis Pohl Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Melissa Morris in several different capacities. I first met her as I was a student in the music department in the late 90s. She was the fun, wacky, dedicated orchestra director who always had students eager to be in her class. When I became a teacher years later, we met up again as colleagues working in a Saturday music program. Still the fun, dedicated teacher she’s always been! Now she was sharing her passion with students across the five boroughs. Then I got to work side by side with her as I was selected as the Woodwinds Coach for the high school marching band and now I had the opportunity to collaborate with her and engage in deep discussions about the future of music education and see firsthand what drives her as an educator. I continue to learn so much from Melissa every time I’m in her presence. She is a true educator who loves music and most importantly, her students. She is one of a kind!

Angelina D’Aquino Posted over a year ago

Where can I even begin to explain the incredible impact that Ms. Morris has made on my life? A teacher that connects her students to the world (quite literally) through music, a teacher who knows how to use every resource she has to make students experiences in the classroom impactful, and a teacher who has always had my back since the first day of my freshman year of high school. Ms. Morris has always accepted me for who I am, has helped shape me into the person I am today, and has served as a role model I strive to be for my own students. Ms. Morris has had such a positive impact on so many students lives, and I feel truly privileged to have been one of her students. Laughs shared, tears shed, and so many priceless memories I have made in her classroom will be with me forever. Much love to the best mentor, music teacher, and advisor ever! Thank you for giving that little trumpet player the best high school experience possible. <3

Caileen Gonzalez Posted over a year ago

I am so grateful for Ms. Morris! In her classroom she created a safe space for creativity while teaching the necessary fundamentals. After the first class, I chose her for all of my electives and had a lively high school experience full of music and expression.

Maryann Locicero Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris is an extraordinary music teacher. Her gift to her students is great. My son(autistic) was given the same opportunity as every student by Melissa Morris. Her energy knows no bounds. She shows her students how to find the joy of music & what brings them the most happiness be it an instrument or vocals. She is the best!

Victoria Manzo Posted over a year ago

Melissa Morris made creativity, community, and diversity the core values of so many young adults. As an educator now, my value for her impact on my life and that of my peers has only been amplified as I reflect on how she went above and beyond to foster music education in the lives of hungry young artists. She supported the evolution of a program that became the legacy of a school and its students. I see my high school sweetheart, and now fiancé, crafting his own music program after the foundations she set in our youth. It brings joy and nostalgia to my heart to recognize the impact of her work through generations. Education is no easy career, but for Ms. Morris, music and education is a calling, and I hope that she feels even a fraction of how appreciated she is by alumnus of her classes.

Dina Layzis Posted over a year ago

This is wonderful! Made me so happy to read! You changed my life in so many countless ways. I'll forever be grateful to have had the experience of having had you as my teacher and now as my friend. You give the gift of music to so many of those who otherwise would never have been able to experience it in such a way. This is so important - especially now in a world where the emphasis on art and music is slowly fading. I know how much heart you put into all you do, each lesson and each person. Thank you for being such a light in my world and the world around! You are an amazing person!

Jennifer Schecter Posted over a year ago

This is incredible and well-deserved! How cool is it that this student was one of your very first!! You literally changed the trajectory of this student's life (and so many others on the way!) Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story with us. Way to represent Team NYC. Congratulations, Melissa!!!!!

Leah Hanley Posted over a year ago

What a beautiful story about the difference a music teacher can make!! Congratulations, Melissa! You earned it many times over.

David West Posted over a year ago

This is a touching story of what a difference a single teacher can make. Congratulations to Melissa Morris and this inspired and anonymous former student and accomplished musician.

Judy Conti Posted over a year ago

So unspeakably proud of my magnificent cousin Melissa!!!

Marnee Morris Posted over a year ago

Way to go! Every moment spent teaching and learning is a moment to be celebrated! You ROCK! I am so proud of you and your ability to persist and build up others. HUZZAH!

Melissa Morris Posted over a year ago

I am BLESSED to have you! Each and every one of my students have been incredible "teachers" for me, changing my life as well! Together we make magic happen each and every year. Thank you for this incredible honor of your time and thoughtfulness in writing this nomination. I am truly humbled by this gesture. <3 While your name is not listed here, I know just who you are ;) and I love knowing that we have been connected by music throughout the past 25 + years, even in the years when we lost touch. I so love that we are once again united by music and by our love of teaching others the art of playing guitar. :) You make me so proud to be a TEACHER!