Monday, April 28, 2014

Donna Morton named American Legion Post 148 teacher of the year - By Michelle Libby with contributions by Kristen Day

Fourth-grade teacher Donna Morton attended school in the same district that she will retire from this August after 37 years of teaching. Her legacy is one of dedication, encouragement and an engaging teaching style that makes her students and fellow teachers alike spout her talents. 
This spring two of Morton’s co-workers nominated for the American Legion Educator of the Year for the State of Maine. In that process, she was selected as the local American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 educator of the year. She will be honored at a Memorial Day celebration at the Windham Veterans Center. 

“A dynamo, always on the go, this woman does it all: Wife, mother of two, Scout leader, environmentalist, athletic, political organizer, grant writer and the teacher that every parent wants their child to have,” the proclamation read. 

Morton has a master’s in education and in computer technology. She has also raised more than $60,000 through grants for the Manchester and RSU14 community including the helping hands bridge that goes between the middle school fields and the Windham Public Library.  

“As a mother of one of her students, I am so grateful that we had the chance to experience her unwavering dedication, zest for education and love of teaching.  Her all-embracing attitude, commitment and complete investment in each child from beginning to end are remarkable,” said Ashley Debrosse.
Teachers that Morton has worked with recounted stories of her teaching, her contributions and her uniqueness. 

“After many long hours at school (after hours), no surprise to see Donna the next morning wearing a jumper she whipped up before retiring for the night,” said Izzy Booth who has known Morton more than 20 years. 

“She is one of the most resourceful and energetic teachers on the Manchester staff,” said aide Carol Thurlow, who has known Morton since 1965 when Morton babysit Thurlow’s two sons. 

In her resourcefulness, Morton requests water and milk cartons be sent into her class every year to use to construct an igloo in the classroom. 

Morton was designated by the State as a trainer for other teachers when computers were introduced into the classrooms with the statewide laptop program. 

“All of our 11 community days she has pulled off a slide show showing the students working on their project without a technical problem,” said art teacher Angelika Blanchard. 

 “Mrs. Morton’s tireless efforts to technology growth in all – students and faculty – are incredible. She is an Energizer bunny that doesn’t quit,” said fourth-grade teacher Kelley Williamson. 

As a positive force in the school community, Morton spends extra hours to make sure that things are done and done well, said Deb Luce, Morton’s fourth grade team partner. 

The whipped cream competition fundraiser developed by Morton is a fond memory for REACH teacher Jennifer Breton. “She brings a true love of teaching and the job of learning,” Breton added.

When school nurse assistant Vickie Clarke lost her house to a fire last year, “(Morton) was right there helping every inch of the way with her husband David. She is always giving of herself to others,” Clarke said. “She is very caring, calling parents of sick students or going to their home to visit.” 

Helpful is a word used repeatedly when Morton’s name is mentioned.  Her co-workers have never known her to say “no” to anyone who needs help whether it is school related or personal. 

Her teaching style is described as fun. “Mrs. Morton wants her students to not only learn as much as possible, but have fun doing it!” said fourth-grade teacher Melissa Azzaratta. 

“She really gives 110 percent to her kids,” said fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Ocean. 

In addition to all of her school related successes, including Marco, the moose, which travels the globe, Morton is involved in the Windham Land Trust, the Linus Project and creating adult education programs that inspire an active lifestyle. 

Morton will be missed by the hundreds of students she has taught over the years, but she has no plans to go quietly into retirement. She plans to travel, paint, hike and more in the next chapter of her life.

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