After nine years of teaching math and four years of teaching language arts at Ringgold Middle School, Julia Morrison, Ringgold Middle School’s “Teacher of the Year” and a history lover, described the past seven years of teaching sixth-grade social studies as “the icing on the cake of a long career.”
Over a 40-year career span, 34 years are sprinkled with teaching various subjects at different schools, 30 of which were spent in the Catoosa County school system, and a memorable 10-year gap in the midst of it to “raise her little ones.”
Morrison, from Chattanooga, said she couldn’t recall making a conscious decision as a young collegiate to pursue teaching, but there were many special mentors along the way who helped guide her along the path.
“At the time (in college), I was more interested in the psychological aspects of why we do what we do,” said Morrison. “The more I worked in the area of psychology, the more I was drawn to the world of children and how their minds work, and after working with kids it eventually led to a career in education. I remembered those special teachers in my life who inspired me to reach higher and to think more creatively and I try very hard to do the same with my students today.”
Helping children believe “everyone can learn more than they ever thought possible” is something she strives to instill in her students, she said. Teaching social studies is particularly pleasant for her because she loves the content and she tries to convey her energy to her classroom.
“Enthusiasm rubs off,” Morrison said. “I hope my students feel my enthusiasm for the subject. It is a real goal of mine to leave each student some positive memories of time spent in my class. Positive memories do not necessarily translate into higher CRCT scores, but they may be the fertile soil of personal and academic growth in the future. I pray so.”
Morrison had much praise for her Ringgold Middle School peers, who nominated her for the award, which is given annually.
“Being voted ‘Teacher of the Year’ was certainly a high honor,” Morrison said. “I am humbled to represent such a superior and competent faculty. It has been my pleasure to teach with many fine teachers throughout my career, but few faculties can boast the caliber of teachers found in this school.”
Outside the classroom, Morrison focuses on her family. She said her prayers were answered recently when her husband overcame a 21-month battle with leukemia. Their daughter Rachel is a registered nurse practitioner who lives in Knoxville with her family, and their son Jordan has plans to move with his family to Chattanooga after he graduates in May with a doctor of pharmacy degree. Her grandchildren Brainna, 2½, and Caleb, 9½ months, are “the loves of her life.”
After a season of caring for ailing or aging family members, Morrison said she hopes to hit the road this summer to visit some new places with her husband and spend lots of time with her grandchildren. She is also very involved in church ministries and said she hopes to continue that in the years to come.