Fostering friendliness: Cedar’s supportive secretary

When walking into the Cedar Shoals counseling office, students are immediately met with the welcoming presence of counseling office secretary Patricia Morris. Morris serves as a bridge between visitors and counselors, checking people in and transferring information. 

“I want to make a difference. I want to be able to help the students. When they come into the office, the first person they see is me. You can make or break their day and I plan on making it. I try to smile and speak to every student,” Morris said. 

After completing an online course at Ashworth College, Morris earned her associate degree in early childhood education in Bassett, Virginia, before moving to Athens in 2020. Prior to her move, she worked as a paraprofessional, police officer and transportation administrator, all in the same school district. 

Morris served as a police officer for a year and a half in a Virginia jail. She decided to take the job because she wanted to try something new after her daughter moved out. She says that she has always wanted to be a deputy, and she enjoys giving back to her community. 

“There were just different things we had to do to make sure the inmates were still getting the best care even though they’re in jail. We still have to treat them like humans,” Morris said. 

Of all the prior jobs that Morris held in Virginia, her favorites involved working in the school district.

“I knew I wanted to continue working with children. I love them. I love to see them grow and excel. Some of them just want someone to say, ‘Good morning’ to them, and I want to be there for them,” Morris said. 

Morris quickly fell in love with Athens on her occasional visits to see her daughter at Emmanuel University and knew she wanted to move here. 

“Every time we would come to watch my daughter play tennis, we would always come to Athens to eat. I kept telling my husband, ‘I love it here, I want to live here.’ Finally one day he said ‘Okay,’” Morris said.

PROVIDING A HELPING HAND: Patricia Morris sits at her desk where she checks in students and visitors. She is skilled in understanding where people need to go in the counseling office and who they need to see. “There are so many ways students can come here if they need help with personal things. We have a social worker, we have a mental health counselor, a college advisor, and then we have the regular counselors,” Morris said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

Morris is a positive force in the counseling department, and has quickly become close to her colleagues. Counseling department chair Ericka Wade believes Morris is a responsible worker and excels at communicating with others. 

“She makes my job very easy. She schedules a lot of the appointments. She also answers a lot of questions that students might have before they even come in to see a counselor. Mrs. Morris is always a willing participant to collaborate with the counseling department to figure out how to get the multiple things done that we need to get done,” Wade said.

Morris’ colleagues appreciate her ability to connect with every student she interacts with. 

“She knows the students. The majority of the students that come in this door, she knows them by name. If they want candy, she provides,” school registrar Michelle Hayes said. 

Junior Sara Whitehead has a close relationship with Morris and shares her accomplishments with her.

“Mrs. Morris always told me good luck for my sports events, and she even got me a card on my birthday. She also got me gifts for winning,” Whitehead said. 

Whitehead appreciates the compassion and kindness that Morris shows, noticing her uplifting spirit and kind demeanor. 

“Whenever I see Mrs. Morris, she always has the biggest smile on her face and she always gives me a hug. She always tells me to have a great day, no matter how her day is going,” Whitehead said. 

In early 2023, Morris faced health issues which interfered with her ability to work. She stayed positive and persevered through the challenge with the help of her supportive environment. 

“Everyone here on the counseling team got me through when I was sick. It was really, really tough, but I had their love and support and I got through it. Now I’m back to me again,” Morris said.  

The support that the counseling department has for each other inspires Morris and makes the work environment more enjoyable. 

“I knew this is what I wanted to do, and I love the people I work with. The people around here — we’re family. Even though I haven’t been here that long, I feel like I’ve been here longer because that is how they make me feel,” Morris said.

London Moore

Junior London Moore is the Co-Web-Editor for her third year with Cedar BluePrints. She wants to attend college, but isn’t sure what she wants to major in yet. Outside of school, Moore is an artist and guitar player, and is involved in Model UN, Beta Club and SET. This year she hopes to improve her writing skills, produce good quality work, and enhance her photography skills. She enjoys getting to know her school through journalism as well as the opportunity to work alongside her friends.

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