45 years and counting

Environmental systems and astronomy teacher shares life experiences


Photo credit: Maleeha Ahmad

Dedication, passion and knowledge. According to students and faculty, these are the attributes that environmental systems and astronomy teacher Bert Morris brings to his classroom.

As a child, Morris was not interested in going to school, much less teaching in one. In fact, he would do anything to avoid it.

“[I wanted to be] a cowboy,” Morris said. “I used to spend some time out at my great uncle’s ranch back when I was in early elementary school. In some ways that was bad because I kind of got the idea that if you’re a cowboy you don’t have to go to school. So I just daydreamed early part of elementary and that got me kind of behind.”

Before Morris began his teaching career in 1971, he was in the Navy for a short time in between college stints. He was part of the Naval Reserves from November 1964 to November 1971.

“I was upon the APA 228 USS Rockbridge which is attack troop transport,” Morris said. “Our job was to transport Marines. You’ve seen movies of when the boats go up there and drop the ramp and the guys run off. That’s what our job was – to drop Marines off on the beach.”

According to Morris, the Navy taught him how to study. In high school, he was used to being a C/D student.

“I was not really a great student beforehand,” Morris said. “From the classes that I took [in the Navy], I learned that I was a lot better student than what I thought. In [the Navy training school] that I went to, I ended up graduating third in the class. That was quite unusual for me.”

Morris has been working at the school for 12 years. In the classroom, he tries to understand his pupils and their needs.

At first I was a bit hesitant to be attending his class because he seemed to be more on the strict end, but after the first week and getting to know him, it’s like he was a complete different person,” senior Sara Moosa said. “ He is a good teacher simply because he understands students and their learning styles. He tries to incorporate different assets in the lesson to assist everyone in the class.”

Inclusion teacher Annette Reese has been co-teaching with Morris for the past two years.

“He’s a wonderful man. He’s very easy to work with; very laid back,” Reese said. “One of the most interesting things, I think, is that he has an agriculture degree from A&M. What that brings to the classroom is very good, because we have a unit on agriculture. He brings his many years of experience as a person, and as a teacher, and his knowledge and his education to the classroom.”

Morris’ life experiences help his students learn the lessons he teaches in class. According to Moosa, he seems to have a story alongside every lesson in order to assist the students in understanding the concepts.

“I find his past intriguing,” Moosa said. “With his many years in contrasting occupations he seems to have a wide array of knowledge over nearly everything. From giving us world advice to assist us in college or just life lessons in general, he seemed to be very experienced and informed his students about a lot.”

Apart from simply teaching lessons from the textbook, Morris teaches his students important life lessons.

“I learned that it only takes one individual to create a spark that ignites flames that could impact the lives of many,” Moosa said. “This was made evident to me through his consistent encouragement to question society and think beyond the boundaries placed upon us. He puts a lot of thought into his lessons and allows you to question him in such a way that stimulates your thoughts in ways that you never knew you could.”

After 45 years of teaching and observing a wide array of students, Morris wants to give his pupils a couple of pieces of advice.

“Try to be the best person you can. Think about others instead of thinking of yourself all the time,” Morris said. “Be willing to be taught. Be willing to be corrected and reproved. Take advantage of [the] opportunity you have and work at it and appreciate the people that are there to help you.”