December 11, 2012 (Jackson) - Sabrina Morgan ('01) is a teacher at Pearl Lower Elementary who sees education as more than just grades and people are starting to notice.
When students are ill and unable to come to class, Morgan uses Skype to bring the classroom to her students. This is just one example of the initiative she has to see her first graders succeed and effort like that is why she was awarded the 2012 Milken Educator Award.
Only 40 elementary educators in the country receive this prestigious recognition. Along with the commendation, this national award came with a cash prize of $25,000. The entire selection process for the Milken award was confidential, as was the real purpose of the school-wide assembly where the award was presented. When Morgan's name was called it took her by surprise and she was then ushered to the stage by the cheers of the entire school.
For 11 years Morgan has worked at Pearl Lower Elementary and takes joy in knowing that each child in her class succeeds in some way. A child's success does not always have to be in the form of an A+. It can be as small as remembering to put their name on the top of their paper or completing a task individually. Helping the students recognize their own successes and being able to see when they recognize these successes is the biggest reward of all, said Morgan.
She strives to give each child the tools to be a life-long learner and significant achievements from her classroom are evidence of her passion and skill in teaching. According to her classroom score charts for the 2011- 2012 school year, 96 percent of her students improved in reading and 100 percent improved in math.
Morgan incorporates many different techniques and tries to give students hands-on, real life experiences that allow them to connect the learned material into their own lives. As a result it gives students a sense of ownership in their learning. She uses a chart to monitor words-per-minute reading improvement and rolled out a school-wide Hooked on Books campaign that motivated students to read 10,000 books in just 3.5 weeks.
Some of the proactive activities that Morgan incorporates include the students' parents. Math Night is a time for parents to gain knowledge of math skills that first grade students need and the Family Science Night is for parents and students to work on science activities together.
Morgan earned her Master's of Education degree through Belhaven's Graduate Studies Program. I began the master's program at Belhaven after my first year of teaching, therefore I was able to bring real life experiences to my classes. My teaching abilities grew from the rich experiences that I received at Belhaven. I was able to work with students during our class time at Belhaven to use the new and innovative ideas that Belhaven provided.
Beyond the classroom, Morgan is a strong leader at the school, district and community levels. National Board Certified, she is in high-demand on committees and teams across many subjects. Morgan led the Common Core State Standards at her school, helped produce and revise curriculum maps and pacing guides and mentors beginning teachers. She serves as first-grade chair, language arts team chair and math team chair. She is also an active community volunteer, lending her support to juvenile diabetes awareness and organizing a district wide canned food drive.
Belhaven University stands among select Christian colleges and universities and has been repeatedly named one of America's 100 Best College Buys." The University offers 30 academic majors across a full spectrum of disciplines as well as a variety of graduate programs. In addition, Belhaven has achieved the distinction of being among only 30 universities nationally accredited in each of the major arts - music, theatre, visual art and dance. All programs are taught from a Christian worldview perspective and are guided by the mission to prepare students academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas.
Belhaven University serves over 3,700 students offering undergraduate and graduate degrees on its residential campus, an online degree program, and graduate and adult degree programs in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.