Cobb Co. teacher wins Civic Educator of the Year award

Cobb Co. teacher wins Civic Educator of the Year award

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James Morris, a Mount Bethel Elementary School teacher, is one of three teachers to win the Civic Educator of the Year award this year. James Morris, a Mount Bethel Elementary School teacher, is one of three teachers to win the Civic Educator of the Year award this year.
COBB COUNTY, Ga. -

A Cobb County teacher is being honored for his efforts in the classroom-- but he's not your average instructor.  James Morris says teaching is a calling for him, and his students say he they learn more than how to pass a test.  They're learning what it means to be good citizens.

In one fifth grade classroom at Mount Bethel Elementary School, Morris has done what every teacher strives to do.  He's gotten through to his students.  But teaching isn't Morris' first career.

For 20 years, Morris was an architect—until his firm decided to relocate.  He walked into a classroom for the first time back in 1994, and he hasn't left since.   He tells FOX 5 he adores his job.

"You can make your plans, but they're lesson plans and you never know where they're going to go," Morris said.

His love for his students shows.  His enthusiasm and creativity in teaching citizenship, government and public policy have earned him the title of Civic Educator of the Year. Morris is one of three teachers to receive the Civic Educator of the Year award, which is given by the YMCA's Center for Civic Engagement. It's an honor that was presented to him by Governor Nathan Deal.

Creative is just one word for Morris' style.  Each year, he runs Immigration Day, where his students actually take on the character of an immigrant.  They have to study the immigration test, citizenship test, and only some of them will pass and become "citizens."  Randell Trammel of the YMCA's Center for Civic Engagement says it's things like that exercise that help students remember forever.

"He teaches in a way where it sticks in our head instead of just always reading out of the book," said Eric Brewster, one of Morris' students.

Morris is grateful for the accolade, but he says shaping young minds isn't a job.  It's what he was born to do.  

 "The furlough days don't matter," he said.  "The no pay raises don't matter.  This is a calling, and it's something that 100 percent of teachers that are in that classroom don't have a choice.  They're here because this is their heart and soul."

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