By Stephanie Lipcius Palko
The celebration of Trevon Morgan as Cecil County’s Teacher of the Year continued this week when he was officially congratulated by the Board of Education on Monday evening.
Morgan, an English Language Arts teacher at Perryville Middle School, was named Teacher of the Year from among 15 candidates during a gala last week.
“It’s for the kids,” Morgan told those at the Board of Education and during a separate interview with the “Cecil Guardian.”
Morgan told his students about the award and even passed around the golden apple that came with the award.
“I told him it was theirs’,” Morgan said. “The kids were full of pride.”
Morgan said his decision to become a teacher fit in with his life’s goal to make a difference by helping people.
“I wanted to directly impact people, especially young people,” he said, adding that he felt the most critical time to make an impact as a teacher or mentor in someone’s life is during those sometimes difficult middle school years.
A short video clip shown during the Teacher of the Year presentation featured some of Morgan’s students talking about how he teaches them. They spoke of the variety of materials and activities Mr. Morgan uses in the classroom and how he makes learning fun.
Enthusiasm in the classroom is vital, Morgan said.
“Keep them moving,” he said.
The key is to make things interesting while keeping the class on task, Morgan said, explaining, with a laugh, “It’s like trying to hold ping pong balls underwater!”
Morgan said students also need to understand the relevance of what they are learning in order to keep them interested and motivated.
Asked what was the best advice he has ever received, Morgan had to think for a moment.
“I once overheard a counselor talking to a student,” he said. The student was telling the counselor how tough their home life was, saying that the family really didn’t have the bare minimum.
The counselor told the student to take whatever the family could offer “and fill the void somewhere else.”
Morgan said that made him think about the many other people, beyond family, who can have a positive impact on one’s life and how people need to learn to look for those people who can help them.
As for the advice he like to give to his students, he said he tries to encourage them to listen.
“A lot of times, when we talk, we repeat what we know,” Morgan said, explaining that people need to remember to pause.
“Just stop, take the time to listen,” Morgan said. “When you listen, you learn something about yourself.”
Morgan also said that listening is very important for a teacher so they can tailor their classroom activities to mesh how the students in that class learn material.
Now that he is Cecil County’s Teacher of the Year, selected from among the county’s 1,349 teachers, Morgan has a much more prominent voice in the local educational community and will go onto the state stage in the fall for the state’s Teacher of the Year event.
Morgan said this is a real change for him.
“In many cases, I have been low key,” he said.
He again stressed that the entire education system has to be totally focused on the students.
“It’s all about them,” Morgan said.
When he thinks of the many skills he was taught to qualify him to be a teacher, Morgan said that colleges cannot teach the technique for the most important asset a teacher needs for success – compassion.
“That’s a qualify of the heart,” Morgan said, explaining that if a teacher adds compassion to the classroom, there is no end to what students can be encouraged to achieve.
“At the end of the day, if they know you have their back, they will move forward,” Cecil County’s Teacher of the Year said.