Greg Morris has been working hard to have his students more actively engaged in the community, from cleanup projects to water testing experiments.

Morris teaches science at Brandon Hall School, a Sandy Springs private school serving grades 6-12, and started in 2017. Before he became a teacher, Morris was in the Army and worked for the Lilburn Police Department, which inspired his school field trip in September.

Greg Morris, a science teacher at Brandon Hall School. (Special)

To honor the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks, Morris brought the middle school class to the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, one of the 135 national burial sites in the United States, to clean service members’ headstones.

“I hope my students can learn from me how to be a good citizen and care about the community they live in,” Morris said.

For a new project, Morris is raising money for each student to have a test kit to examine the quality of public drinking water.

From left, Brandon Hall School students Que Howard and Risa Shinozuka clean gravestones during a field trip to the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. on the 18th anniversary of 9/11. (Special)

Q: Why did you decide to become an educator?

A: When I worked as a police officer, I had the opportunity to teach a fifth grade anti-drug DARE program. I really enjoyed teaching the kids, so I started going to school while still working nights as a police officer. Once I graduated, I started working in Gwinnett County and found my way to Brandon Hall.

Q: What do you like about teaching youths?

A: I like teaching the middle-schoolers new ideas. I like seeing the newness of that knowledge in their eyes.

Q: What inspired the trip to the National Cemetery?

A: I received an email from the Veteran Affairs asking for volunteers. These kids have no idea about 9/11, so I thought it was a good idea to get them out there to see people who have given their lives so that they can go to school.

From left, Brandon Hall School students Timothy McReal, John Ogbeni and Annabelle Langlais take a golf cart around the Georgia National Cemetery during the cleanup. (Special)

Q: Why did you think the trip was important?

A: It was a history lesson seeing the generations of people that are buried there that have fought in different wars. We saw people who fought in World War I up to Afghanistan.

Q: What is next for you and the students?

A: My students are very excited to find out what is in the water we are drinking. Our school counselor showed me a video at the beginning of the year about water quality. We see on the news all the time about big cities with water problems and we haven’t heard anything about Atlanta.

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.