Expert Teacher and Advisor Brad Morris Retires
After a 35-year career in the FCS Upper School math department, Brad Morris will be retiring at the end of this year. It’s a stretch to think of the word “retirement” applying to Brad, who exudes enthusiasm and energy, along with his trademark sense of humor. Interviewing Brad, his true love of teaching in all its aspects shines through. His impact on the School and its students will be felt for years to come.
When Brad first came to FCS in the 1985-1986 school year, he described it as an exciting moment, with a large influx of new teachers joining him around the same time. “It almost felt like we were taking over the place. It was great to be part of that; we were all young and energetic and idealistic. We wanted to change the world, and we were passionate about teaching.”
While some of the youthful energy may have faded, what he has acquired he said, since those days, is a level of wisdom that “took a while to accrue.” And some perspective – particularly on kids. “Everyone’s a unique individual, true, but you see enough kids over the years to recognize that they’re all the same, in a way. They’re kids. And they’re not finished products; they’re maturing at different rates.”
In Brad’s 35 years, he has taught virtually every math course. He considers Statistics, which he has been teaching to seniors for many years, his favorite course. “Statistics allows me to be creative in writing curriculum. There’s so much data out there and so many ways to approach it, and it’s changing all the time, so it can be topical and relevant. In an election year, we can do a lot of work around polling and margin of error, prediction, for example.”
“I really like geometry too,” he added, “because it’s the place where kids get exposed to formal logic, as it applies to mathematics. It’s also a ninth grade course, and the ninth graders are really fun to work with, especially juxtaposed with the seniors; it’s two ends of the spectrum, both of which are unique and fun in their own right.”
In addition to math teaching, Brad has been the faculty advisor for both Mock Trial and Debate clubs for many years and has thoroughly enjoyed watching FCS students excel at both. He brought the Mock Trial program to FCS 15 years ago, and Mock Trial teams have qualified for the national competition twice and made the playoffs most years. In this his final tenure as advisor, Brad has seen Debate club reach unprecedented heights – with the FCS teams taking two of the top three spots to qualify for the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL) State Championships this spring, a feat that he has never seen in any school in his experience.
FCS Debate club uses Parliamentary-style debate, where three-member teams argue either for or against a resolution. “I continue to be amazed,” said Brad, “at how well-thought-out and well-reasoned these kids are with these resolves, how much research they put into them, how they’re able to divide up the topic into subtopics and assign those subtopics to each person on the team and come together with a cohesive argument as well as a rebuttal to the other side’s points. It’s very impressive.”
“Bringing our team to states was one of the highlights of my entire high school experience, and we could never have done it without your mentorship.”
Lily Snider ’16
FCS has consistently done well at both Debate and Mock Trial competitions. When asked to speculate on this, Brad responded, “I think it’s because of the way Friends’ Central conducts its academic program. It’s not a formulaic program, it’s a program designed to get kids to think. And that lends itself perfectly to these kinds of activities and clubs. We are training kids within history class, lit class, science class, etc., to think – to think on their feet, in many cases; to take in different points of view, to analyze, to reason, and to respond.”
Without question, Brad, as faculty mentor for both clubs, has been instrumental to their successes over so many years. Lily Snider ’16, a former member of an FCS Debate team that took second place at the State Parliamentary Championship in 2016, shared a message for Brad. “BradMo – I can’t think of a more iconic man to be the leader of my parliamentary debate experience at FCS. Bringing our team to states was one of the highlights of my entire high school experience, and we could never have done it without your mentorship. Thank you for creating a space that I will always look back on with the utmost fondness and pride.”
“What made Mr. Morris so special was the impact he had, possibly without knowing it. Every day, he greeted all of his students with a smile and with friendship.”
Austin Margulies ’16
Austin Margulies ’16, another former student and Mock Trial and Model UN team member, shared, “What made Mr. Morris so special was the impact he had, possibly without knowing it. Every day, he greeted all of his students with a smile and with friendship. I know I had many bad days made much better by his kindness.
“I started every single day of my four years in high school with Mr. Morris in homeroom. He began all of those days with a great conversation, an interesting thought, or even just the simple wish for his students to have a great day … When I look back on my time at FCS, above all, I remember him as a great friend.”
It’s clear that Brad remains enthusiastic and committed to teaching, even as retirement rapidly approaches. “My goal is to go out on top. And I feel like I am. I don’t want the students to see somebody up there who looks burned out. I want to keep – if not the same exact youthful energy I had 35 years ago – at least some facsimile of it, salted by a certain level of experience and wisdom that I didn’t have back in the day.”
“Whether teaching a class, working with advisees, or overseeing clubs, Brad brings joy to everything he does. Countless alumni/ae, current students, and colleagues will miss his expertise and sense of humor.”
Beth Johnson, Upper School Principal
Upper School Principal Beth Johnson reflected on her colleague, “Whether teaching a class, working with advisees, or overseeing clubs, Brad brings joy to everything he does. Countless alumni/ae, current students, and colleagues will miss his expertise and sense of humor.”
Although Brad will be missed, fortunately he plans to stay connected to FCS, participating in alumni/ae gatherings and other events.
We wish him all the very best!
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