By OJC staff
Marian Morris, BUENO-HEP Coordinator and Instructor, has been a math teacher for 52 years, and has worked with the BUENO-HEP Program since 2014. On July 1, 2015, Morris became the Coordinator/Instructor for the La Junta Satellite of the BUENO-HEP grant. She completed the remaining four years of that grant cycle and the first year of the new grant cycle beginning in the fall of 2019. She will retire on Aug. 31.
According to Morris, the GED test was changed in 2013-14 to align the program with the Common Core standards, which meant the level of difficulty was elevated especially in mathematics. Because she had been a math teacher, the BUENO-HEP Grant Director asked her to teach part-time beginning in the fall of 2014 and she accepted. In the spring of 2015, she was offered the position of Coordinator/Instructor in La Junta and has been doing both since then.
Morris loves teaching, "I love the 'aha' and wow moments; but, I have come to realize that I am also a coach. So many people who have worked their way through the program needed someone to believe in them, someone who would be there if they failed whether by one point or several points, someone to pick them up, dust them off, and convince them that they have what it takes to succeed. For some students, coaching was my primary job."
"I will miss the students because they become 'my kids' and I will miss the many friendships that have been created during my time in La Junta. I did not know anyone when I moved here, but the people of La Junta and the Arkansas Valley have made me feel welcome, made me feel I was home."
Throughout the years, there were several special moments, but there are two memories that Morris will always cherish. One was when a student came into the program stating that she hated math and could never do it, however, three months later during an evaluation visit, the student told the evaluator that she loved math and could hardly wait to come to class every day. The second memory was a student who returned after graduation to thank Morris for believing in him.
Morris has had approximately 90 graduates since July 1, 2015. She has convinced and untold number of people that they could do math and they could do it well enough to pass the official test. She has planned four graduation ceremonies. During her tenure, she also relocated the BUENO-HEP program office and moved 35 years worth of materials from one side of the campus to the other with the help of the physical plant crew.
The plan after retirement for Morris will be to move closer to her sister who lives in the southwest corner of Colorado. She plans to join her sister in a quilt guild, 4-H and other agricultural programs that involve youth. She also plans to finish some crochet project that she started years ago as well as taking a number of trips.
"I also hope to live in a place where I can have a small garden and have space to raise flowers. There are square dances in that area in which I hope to participate if the COVID-19 situation ever goes away," Morris shared.
"I wish to thank the people of La Junta who made me feel welcome and many made feel as part of their family. When I am out walking, people wave, I don't think they know me but they wave. The administration, faculty and staff at Otero Junior College have made me feel welcome and a part of the college. The many groups who are considered partners for the BUENO-HEP program have been positive and supportive beyond imagination. I cannot thank you all enough for what you have given me in friendship and support, for how you have made me feel welcome and a part of your community and what a wonderful experience you have provided."
Morris is a truly valued employee and will be missed by the students and college. OJC wishes her luck in her next adventures.
Morris' position is now open and can be found at https://jobs.colorado.edu/jobs/JobDetail/?jobld=26339&emailCampaignld=136.