HCHS honors Morris

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An assembly was held at Harlan County High School on Monday to reflect on and remember the life of social studies teacher Stephen Morris, who passed away Sunday at the age of 42 following an illness with Glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

Superintendent Brent Roark told students that Morris fought a “valiant battle” with the illness.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and especially his wife, Tabitha, and 10-year-old son, Brayden. Mr. Morris chose to return to work this year while he was still battling for his life because he cared so deeply for his students, co-workers and our school,” Roark said.

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“Mr. Morris will always be remembered for his incredibly positive attitude, his courage and his tremendous love for the students of Harlan County High School,” noted Roark. “We can all learn from Mr. Morris’ incomparable courage and bravery. He is an enormous part of the heart of Harlan County High School and will be greatly missed.”

Others speaking included coach Eddie Creech, teacher Steve Daniel, First Priority sponsor Rev. Roland “Bo” Lee and Principal Edna Burkhart.

Creech reflected on the memory of Morris and his son leading the team through the helmet for the district clash with Perry Central last school year.

All of the speakers shared thoughts on his bravery during the illness and his dedication to the education profession.

The assembly concluded with a moment of silence to allow those in attendance to reflect upon the impact Morris had on their lives.

Morris was awarded the inaugural Black Bear Inspirational Teacher Award from the Superintendent’s Student Council last month. The award was established by the council to honor teachers who go above and beyond in their required job duties to make students feel special and appreciated. In an emotional presentation during a council meeting, Morris accepted the award and heard students commend him for caring about them, his work ethic and many other attributes that made him popular and respected by students.

Student Olivia Minor talked about Morris, saying he always treated students with respect and helped them prepare for class and exams in many ways. “The students really appreciated all he did for them.”

Student Emily Sergent told Morris at the award presentation: “I love you. I thank you for everything you’ve done for me and all your students through the years.”

Shaun Warren also spoke, echoing comments from his peers and noting Morris put his “heart and mind into everything.”

Luke Parker said Morris did “one of the bravest things ever” to return to teaching after being diagnosed with Glioblastoma. Parker said this showed how much he cared for the students and the teaching profession.

Morris said at the time “I love each of you and I’m sincerely thankful for the impact you’ve had on my life. Remember to always be kind¸ always do your best, but most importantly always allow God to lead your way. Go Black Bears!”

Minor, in an interview with WYMT following the assembly on Monday, said, “Everyone wanted to be like him because of the way he lived. He was a great Christian, a great father, a great teacher. It is because of the standards that he set that everyone can try and strive to be like him.”

WYMT executive produer/AM forecaster Brandon Robinson posted a note to the family on his Facebook page saying, he was “heartbroken. We had gotten to know Steve, Tab and Bray in the last year, thanks to our shared battle. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now. Please pray for comfort, for peace and for love to surround all of the family tonight and for all of the days to come. Steve will definitely be missed. I’m so glad God brought him and his family into our lives. We didn’t know him very long, but we didn’t need to. That’s the kind of impact he leaves behind.”

Robinson noted there were plans to honor Morris during the upcoming Harlan County Relay for Life. He said those plans will continue.

Morris was a 1994 graduate of James A. Cawood High School and a faithful member of Harlan Christian Church.

Surviving are his wife, Tabitha Henry Morris; son, Brayden Stephen Morris; parents, Charles and Joyce Hagy Morris; sisters, Tracie Luttrell and husband, John; Amy King and husband, Mike; sisters-in-law Debbie Austin and husband, Dewayne; Veronica Mosley and husband, Chris; and Misty Frazier and husband, Tony; his mother-in-law Vicky Curry; nieces and nephews; and a host of friends.

Visitation will be held Jan. 9 at the Harlan Center from 5 to 8 p.m. Private graveside services are scheduled. Pallbearers will be Jamie Sergent, Allen Wallace, Stan Nicely, Judge Scott Lisenbee, Dewayne Austin and Steve Daniel. Loyall Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.