By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- For Patricia Morris, 11th and 12th grade reading teacher at Jensen Beach High School, it's always been about the students. She loves them like her own and everyone knows it.
It's that passion for teaching that earned her Martin County's Teacher of the Year award last Friday, for which she was selected from 22 nominees.
"I just feel that the kids are the most important," Ms. Morris said. "I want them to be successful."
The title was awarded at the Education Foundation of Martin County's Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration on Jan.31 at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center, the Academy Awards for Martin County teachers.
The event, sponsored by Publix Super Market Charities, Keiser University's College of Golf and Sport Management, and Treasure Coast Urgent & Family Care also acknowledged Laura Bakkedahl as the elementary school teacher of the year and Allison Fredericks as the middle school teacher of the year.
Ms. Morris was the high school teacher of the year and when all three teachers were on stage, Ms. Morris was pronounced the overall winner.
"I think I covered my mouth and said to myself, I think they just said my name. I couldn't believe it. I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, but shocked," Ms. Morris said.
Ms. Morris has taught in Martin County for nearly 28 years and educated students both inside and outside the classroom.
"I've had an interesting career," Ms. Morris said.
She started as a first grade teacher at Port Salerno Elementary where she was also a cheerleader advisor, then moved to Crystal Lake Elementary where she taught fourth grade, served as a science fair coordinator and basketball and track coach.
From there she began teaching reading at South Fork High School where she also coached soccer and now at Jensen Beach High School she does the same in addition to serving as an activity director, a member of the Common Core leadership team, and school-wide coordinator for community services.
"I've loved every place I've been," Morris said.
Her students were excited for her on Monday and Ms. Morris is still trying to decide what to do with her three plaques. She also received $500 in cash; $500 in educational grants and various gift certificates after her name was announced to Lady Gaga's "Applause," Ms. Morris' theme song for the evening.
"I think it's going to be an exciting rest of the year for me," Ms. Morris said, and she's glad she gets to spend it with her Jensen Beach High School family as she dives into the trenches and fights to support every student's learning needs.