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March 22, 2003

Band Teacher Marches On As
2003 Teacher of the Year
2003 Teacher of the Year Photo

SPRINGFIELD--Mt. Prospect High School music and band teacher David Morrison was named Saturday night to be the 2003 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

In announcing Morrison’s selection, State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller said, “Teachers with David’s strengths and dedication are the reason Illinois education continues to improve. His commitment to helping students learn, coupled with his own passion for continuous learning make him an educator to emulate.”

Ask Morrison how music impacts his students’ learning experiences and he will likely share this with you: “This past November, our marching band traveled to New York City to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Out first stop on the trip was to the World Trade Center Ground Zero. During our visit, we were fortunate enough to be allowed to perform at the site. When the band played the “Star Spangled Banner” followed by “Amazing Grace” and a patriotic medley, the other visitors, the workers at the site, and even the police stopped to listen, as they were moved by this moment that performer and audience shared. At no time in our lives was the meaning of this music more clear in its function in our society.”

Morrison’s teaching style is one of leadership. He asks students questions, directs them, motivates them, challenges them, and empowers them. This technique encourages the learning experience to generate on its own, and students evolve into their own, self-directed teaching leaders.

“I believe that the most effective and proper study of music is through students’ personal involvement in producing musical meaning, communication, and expression in a performance situation for an audience,” he says.

Morrison will have plenty of his own opportunities to perform before an audience during his term as Illinois Teacher of the Year as he shares his philosophy with teachers, students, administrators, and community members.

David has been teaching for almost thirty years. He says that his own high school experiences in band instilled such deep sense of magic in him that he knew he had to share that magic with students. Morrison was chosen as Teacher of the Year from among 14 outstanding finalists in the Illinois State Board of Education’s Those Who

Excel awards program. David and about 300 other excellent educators, school staff, parents and community volunteers were honored March 22 as part of the 29th annual event.

The Teacher of the Year will spend the 2003 fall semester speaking at teacher workshops, educational conferences and civic and community meetings. The Teacher of the Year will also receive a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities and a one-semester paid leave to pursue graduate work or develop an educational project that will benefit students across the state.

In addition, Morrison will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc.

David’s first teaching experience was in downstate Olney. He admits he had never even heard of Olney up to that time, but he didn’t care because he was so excited at the prospect of sharing his love of music. As he looks back, he realizes how much he learned about working with people and developing a band program. In the four years he was at Olney’s East Richland High School, he took a languishing band program and molded it into something that the students, the school, and community could be proud of. He did such an outstanding job that the band began winning first divisions in concert work and thrilling audiences on the marching field.

Prospect’s Assistant Principal David Good explains that David’s ability to excel as an educator is directly tied to his ability to motivate and lead his students on an incredible musical journey that will remain with them throughout their lives. Good describes Morrison as “a master teacher who has touched the lives of thousands.”

Under David’s direction, the Prospect High School Bands have won numerous awards, including: the marching band has been a five-time finalist at the Bands of America

National Championships, they have won the Fiesta Bowl National Pageant of Bands, and won the Grand Championship Governor’s traveling trophy at the University of Illinois marching contest for 20 consecutive years. The symphonic band has been invited to perform in the prestigious University of Illinois Superstate Competition 10 times and has been a past winner of this championship. The Prospect Marching Knights have performed for the president of the United States on three separate occasions.

David and his wife have three children. They live in Arlington Heights.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777