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Polk County Enterprise - Local News

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LIS instructor chosen as Teacher of the Year

 

AUSTIN -- Jimmie Morris, a physical education teacher at Livingston Intermediate School has been named the winner of the Teacher of the Year Dance Award given by the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD). TAHPERD will recognize the 2017 outstanding Texas educational professionals in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance. During their 94th annual convention Dec. 1 in Fort Worth. The association is a not-for-profit professional with over 3,500 members dedicated to educating their students to live healthy lives. It was founded in 1923 and is the only association in Texas serving educators in all four disciplines of health, physical education, recreation and dance. Morris is a member of the association and formerly served as chair for TAHPERD's Social Dance Committee. He has presented several social dance workshops at the TAHPERD Annual Convention and Summer Conferences. Morris promotes the concept of educating the "Whole Child," evidenced in the make-up of his 4th and 5th-grade physical education classes. Morris welcomes students to school each morning by providing a holding area in the gym where they are allowed to participate in a variety of movement activities. These activities, including dance, karaoke, basketball and football drills, etc., help create a positive atmosphere each day. While maintaining a focus on physical education, Morris seamlessly weaves interdisciplinary content into lessons. While warmups might include somatic conditioning and dance, an agility drill might include repetition and recall of multiplication facts, and a football "Station Rotation" drill could reinforce non-PE vocabulary like the meaning and spelling of words like "occupied" and "vacant." At the same time, the footwork for the agility drill builds the foundation for a complex rhythm and movement pattern to be used in Fall and Spring performances that are presented to a community audience. The fall performance, "Letters from Home," is a Veteran's Day Celebration that collaborates with the writing and social studies teachers, to reinforce significant relevance to the students in honoring our veterans. The spring show, "American Heritage Celebration," emphasizes the diversity of culture and encourages an appreciation for contributions from those cultures to today's society. Morris is also instrumental in the hosting of the annual parent/student "Valentines Dance." This dance allows parents to attend and interact with their children in a social atmosphere as the students are instructed in appropriate etiquette for a semi-formal event. Through team sports, Morris builds conflict/ resolution scenarios into non-officiated gamelike activities and gives students strategies to find appropriate resolutions and avoid inappropriate resolutions. It is these types of activities that Morris hopes will help students develop a healthy lifestyle, build a strong foundation of good character, and gain an understanding of the importance of "Life/Long Learning." Morris, who has taught social dance for over 30 years, owned and operated a social dance studio in Huntsville, where he taught private lessons and group classes in American style ballroom and country western dance. While in Huntsville, he also taught social dance classes for the city of Huntsville's community program, HEAP (Huntsville Enrichment Activity Program) and was an adjunct faculty member for the Dance Department at Sam Houston State University. During the six or more years that Morris taught social dance classes at SHSU, class sections grew in number and in a variety of class offerings. When Morris took over the social dance classes, there were only a small number of beginning country western sections and one folk and social class offered. After the first year, the popularity of Morris' classes prompted an increase of sections in beginning level classes. Former students also requested advanced classes. Eventually, a beginning ballroom class, an intermediate C&W class, a Latin class, and a swing class were added to the curriculum. Morris received extensive training while employed by two highly regarded social dance studios in Houston, Fred Astaire Studios and Best of Texas Dance Studio. While employed as an instructor, Morris received daily staff training as well as specialized coaching from nationally acclaimed master professionals, including Lynn Fergusen (three-time undefeated American Style Nine-Dance Champion), Sunny Williamson (Board of Adjudicators for Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire), Frankie Manning (original member of Whity's Lindy Hoppers), and Carmen Scarborough (UCWDC Masters Division Champion). Morris also held memberships as a professional in the National Dance Council of America (NDCA) and United Country Western Dance Council (UCWDC).

 

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