Veronica Morris loves writing.
“My passion is writing,” said Veronica Morris, sixth-grade English/Language Arts teacher at Lufkin Middle School. “You take word choice, imagination and create a beautiful piece of writing coming from the heart with feeling and emotion.”
Her dream job was to become a writer and travel to exciting places. Although she hasn’t traveled the world, her students provide plenty of excitement for her as she imparts her knowledge and writing skills to hundreds of students in sixth grade. At a recent interview, she shared her feelings on why teaching is so important to her.
Where are you from and what were your interests in high school?
I’m a Lufkin High School 1981 graduate. I played trombone in the Lufkin Panther Band and was involved in journalism, working on the high school newspaper. I was spoiled, the youngest of seven in my family. In college, at Sam Houston State University, I was on the yearbook staff and the Soul Lifters.
Who are the Soul Lifters?
We (the Soul Lifters) sang and it was a life-changing experience. My singing is OK. I’m not going to audition for a musical or anything, but I can carry a tune. Several people from Lufkin were in it, and I wanted to be part of that. They would sing around churches in Houston and came to Lufkin once. For four years we got to travel on the weekends and give glory to God through voice.
Who were your mentors?
Jodi Anderson taught me eighth-grade math. We felt loved, needed and wanted. Another mentor was Sandy McEntire. I was friends with her daughter, Penny, and her mom was the principal. She was a bright example of how to lead. Once I became a teacher, she was the one who called me to work at Brandon. I was hesitant, but she talked me into it.
How did you become a teacher?
I didn’t originally want to be a teacher. I always loved school. A professor in college in my sophomore year called me in and said I had passion in my English paper. He said, ‘You’ve got to be a teacher.’ I had excitement and energy. It was what God wanted me to be. I returned home from college and worked at Diboll Junior High for five years. From there I went to sixth-grade PACE at Brandon Elementary. I taught seven years — all sixth grade — then transferred to Lufkin Middle School when the high school was remodeled to be the middle school. I’ve taught 36 years — 31 in Lufkin.
What do you like about teaching sixth-graders?
Sixth-graders are wonderful, teacher pleasers, independent. They respond to the subject. I really enjoy teaching them. I would say, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this!”
What advice do you have for your younger teachers starting out?
My advice to younger teachers starting out is do a deep-down search. Be prepared for commitment. Be patient and have energy to be successful in the classroom and prayer! Allow the students to express themselves. If they’re great at speaking, reading, writing, incorporate it all. Channel their energy.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Having an impact, a lifelong impact on a child. I was honored as a student’s favorite teacher at the volleyball game. It was very encouraging.
Are you married or have children?
My husband, Danny Morris, passed away in 2010. He played offensive lineman for the Dunbar Tigers that went to state in ’66 and ’67. I raised two nieces, Donyele and Nyla.
What are your students working on now?
Future Quest, where students colonize planets and come up with a name for the planet, a slogan, and persuade the others to come there.
I’m looking forward to traveling when I’m retired.
And we’re looking forward to reading her first novel.