By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Laura Morning grew up in Chelsea, the youngest of five children. In high school, she began tutoring a 4-year-old family friend who was autistic. This is what motivated her to go into special education.
Morning attended Eastern Michigan, where she was a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority. After graduating in 2002 with a degree in special education with an emotionally impaired endorsement, she stepped into the classroom teaching a self-contained, emotionally impaired classroom at Henry Ford Elementary, which was part of the former Willow Run Community Schools (since consolidated with Ypsilanti Public Schools to form Ypsilanti Community Schools).
She taught elementary for three years and then moved to the high school, where she was a teacher consultant for two years prior to coming to Ann Arbor.
Morning met her husband in Ann Arbor and got married six years ago. They have three children and live in Ypsilanti, where they spend a lot of time with their kids, taking them to their activities which include AAU basketball, gymnastics, and dance.
What does your job as a teacher consultant entail?
As a teacher consultant, I work with a team of professionals that create and implement IEP plans for students. We coordinate with the teachers, counselors, parents, service providers to make sure that each student is getting equal access to the curriculum.
How has virtual learning affected your role as a teacher consultant?
Virtual learning has definitely made teaching more difficult. The best part of my day is getting into classes with the kids and interacting with them. They are so resilient and understanding, and have been so great when I have to ask for the 100th time, “Can you see my screen?” or “What can you see now?” or “Did that work?” The most difficult part is the workload and being in front of the computer screen all day. As teachers, we are typically up, moving around, checking in with teachers and kids, just hoping to get a break and sit or use the restroom. Virtual teaching has also made it challenging to connect with all of the students on my caseload each day. I used to be able to connect with each student every day, whether it was in the halls, in class, during lunch, or after school. Now, we just have to be more creative in our approach to building those connections and making time to let each kid know that you are still here for them.
How do you feel about this unprecedented school year?
I have a lot of different feelings with regards to the upcoming year. I am excited to get back to working with my students and engaging with the amazing staff at Scarlett. I am nervous/anxious because I have three kids at home that are trying to focus and complete their work, while I am trying to deliver instruction.
What are your thoughts so far about virtual learning?
Virtual learning is just a new platform. The staff at Scarlett and the Ann Arbor teaching community are amazing and have created some amazing units to engage all students. My worry is just around the amount of screen time these kids will have, and it’s difficult for me to sit for long periods of time. My little one at home is having a hard time truly engaging in the lessons, and that is difficult to watch because I am not always able to help her.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
The relationships I have with the students and their families. I get to work with families from 6th to 8th grade and to be able to watch them grow is amazing. The transition from elementary school can be scary and challenging and then to watch them leave in the 8th grade very confident and capable is a lot of fun.
What’s the most challenging?
The challenges are what promote change. Changing habits of my students, changing minds of their caregivers to see other better opportunities and strategies, and changing policy at the next level to provide the services needed are all unique and motivational challenges of my position.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?
Self-care is really important. It is a stressful job and you have to priorities your health or you won’t be able to be the best version of you for the kids.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
When I was in high school, my best friend’s mom let me work in her preschool classroom. She was such a warm, kind person who loved kids and it showed in all that she did. She was creative and always trying new things to engage students. She allowed me to be in charge of the sensory station and I was able to create lessons to teach 3-4 year olds about their senses. I really enjoyed watching the little ones explore and light up when they would figure something out.
What’s the best compliment anyone could give you?
Just recognizing how hard I work.
In your 13 years in AAPS, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning?
I have seen so many changes in programming. Transitioning to an IB program has been so educational for me. Supporting the different content areas in developing a curriculum that provides supports for all students has been such a wonderful experience and seeing students excel has been
What’s the happiest part of your day when you’re in the building?
Chatting and hanging out with my co-workers. We have so much fun.
What’s unique about working at Scarlett?
I believe that Scarlett is unique in that we are family there. When I finished my first year at Scarlett, I said I was “home”. The administration is supportive, the faculty is amazing and our students are diverse.
Apps you can’t live without:
I could live without apps all together. I am not a techie at all and prefer to not be on my phone or computer.
If you could know the definitive answer to any one question, what would that question be?
How much is our raise going to be and when will we get it?
How do you spend your summers?
I spend summers by the pool with my kids. We purchased a camper last summer so I am really looking forward to going camping with the family. Long days outside, hanging out around a campfire and making new friends.