Sunman principal to be honored

Wanda English Burnett

Sunman Elementary School Principal Cynthia Morton has been chosen District 10 Elementary Principal of the Year. She will be honored this Sunday, November 22 at a recognition ceremony at the Indianapolis Marriott Hotel where Indiana Association of School Principal’s (IASP) Annual Fall Professional Conference will be held.

Described as “very energetic and passionate about doing everything possible for students,” John Roeder, superintendent of Sunman-Dearborn Community Schools, said she is an “excellent administrator.”

The prestigious honor is well deserved by Morton, who in her own words “is a life-long learner.” She says she holds the core belief that as an educator she must continually be learning and demonstrates that belief in her own life.

Morton came to Sunman Elementary School in 2002 as their principal. She earned her B.A. in elementary education from Purdue University in 1987 and began teaching at Twin Lakes Community Schools. She then continued her education to achieve her M.S. in education and is presently working on her Ph.D. which will be completed in 2011.

Not only is Morton active in continuing education for herself, but expects her staff to learn with her.

When asked to describe how she has been a risk-taker to improve Sunman Elementary, she had this to say. “I don’t view myself as a risk-taker to improve my school. I believe in following research and implementing proven programs to improve student learning. This is not always well received by those who wish to avoid change, and perhaps that is a ‘risk’ I take. Developing teacher leaders and promoting their decision-making and ideas has improved our school.”
Improving the learning environment for her students is priority for this principal, who is always thinking on her feet when it comes to education.

Since coming to Sunman, Morton has implemented a “Recess before Lunch” program, which has increased lunch consumption and decreased playground incidents. She says the program has been working well for six years and is a model for other elementary schools. “Teachers, parents and students have commented on how this simple change has produced such positive results.”

Another program that is working well allows teachers to meet as a group weekly to monitor continuous improvement and provide professional development activities.

A volunteer program that involves the community is important to students and teachers. Morton incorporates community leaders such as police, fire, and rescue groups. She also noted that she works with the media to have stories about happenings at the school reach the community.

Morton is proud of the 408 students, 33 certified staff members and 33 classified staff members. The school is equipped with two, 30-station computer labs along with four stations in each classroom. All the computers function on a school-wide network that supports software as well as Internet access.

The school boasts a 20-station physical fitness trail which is part of an outdoor education lab and arboretum located behind the school building. The fitness stations are located on a 600-meter trail that winds through 10 acres of wooded area.

Morton is constantly seeking ways to improve the school so her students have every opportunity to continue learning in higher grades. She believes the elementary school is where learning habits are formed. “Her commitment to improve herself professionally is more importantly a commitment to help provide an even better instructional program for our students and to be an even better resource for her teaching staff,” Roeder wrote in a letter of recommendation.

She has been very active in IASP for the past seven years, where she has held several leadership positions, such as secretary, president and served on the board of directors. She currently serves as the treasurer.

Locally, she serves as the coordinator for the Sunman Dearborn Principals’ Professional Development Study Group. Her memberships include: National Association of Elementary School Principals, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, International Reading Association and Council for Exceptional Children.

Although Morton has served in a variety of areas of leadership and has received awards, her greatest achievement is seeing a child grasp the concept and know they are learning. Parents of a student at Sunman, David and Michelle Deddens wrote, “she genuinely loves her profession, her school, the teachers and other employees working there and most importantly the children.”

The Deddens continued by saying she is approachable to parents, but most importantly, the students. “The children know they will be listened to, respected and treated as special,” the Deddens wrote.

One child noted, “I know she even likes bad kids because she eats lunch with them!” Another fourth grader said, “I think it is sweet Mrs. Morton was chosen to receive the Principal of the Year award because; she is nice, funny, and fun to talk to. But, also because she helps students to grow with knowledge, but have fun at the same time.”

Morton takes great pride in her chosen career. But, it is much more than a career. She knows her students by name, and interacts with them daily. You can find her on the playground at recess, in the lunchroom, classroom, or outside as the buses arrive or depart. She is 100% involved in the day-to-day activities at the school and likes it that way.

She told the Osgood Journal she feels honored to be chosen 2009 District 10 Elementary Principal of the Year. District 10 is made up of Ripley, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Hancock, Jennings, Rush, Shelby and Union counties.

Cindy Morton is named District 10 Elementary Principal of the Year
Mrs. Cindy Morton is pictured in one of her favorite places - with some of her students at Sunman Elementary School where she serves as principal. She has been chosen as the District 10 Elementary Principal of the Year and will be honored this Sunday in Indianapolis.