Get to Know: Laura Morris, local educator and tutorNov 03, 2022 02:27PM ● By Stephen Klein
Laura Morris is an academic tutor who works from her home in Red Hills Village off of Ox Bottom Road.
She specializes in math, and teaches students at all levels, elementary through college, including preparation for the ACT, SAT, and GED examinations.
Originally from Cuba, Morris speaks Spanish, English, French, and Italian.
She holds a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling, which helps her work with special needs students, including some students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and others with autism spectrum disorder.
Would you introduce yourself? What do you do and what are your passions?
“My name is Laura Morris, and I live here in the Red Hills community.
I teach classes on Zoom. I teach basic and advanced Spanish classes.
My passion is tutoring. I love to tutor math, because math is like another language.
Actually I speak four languages: English, Spanish, French, and Italian. But I always tell my students that my fifth language is math.
I have students all the way from elementary through college level in math, but I also teach the GED, the ACT, and the SAT as well, so I have students at all levels.
My students come here to me, and I usually have four, sometimes five students a day. My action is just to get to the point where they are comfortable with math, they are confident, and they are competent.
What was the inspiration for your career as a tutor?
“You know, I’ve been tutoring all my life. I remember when I was a child, I would sit on the steps and help my friends with math, because math has always been my passion.
My father and I were math and science people, that’s something we shared.
So I was always tutoring. I love that one-to-one.
Is there anything about your approach to tutoring that you consider to be different or unique?
“I approach it by saying: ‘Math is fun!’
Of course, my students look at me strangely for saying that. But I want us to enjoy our experience together.
I sort of never grew up, so I like to do fun things in the class, and enjoy it.
That transfers to the students.
A lot of times they’ll say: ‘I was never good at math. I hate math. I’m stupid.’ I try to get them to the point where they’re feeling like: ‘I can do this! I’m okay. I’m smart.’
A lot of times, they’ll say something, and I’ll say: ‘You know what? That was a smart thing to say.’
And every once in a while, I’ll make a little mistake on purpose, and they can correct me.
I’ll say: ‘Oh, I’m so glad you caught that.’
I like them to feel like they are the smart ones.
A lot of times, I tell the parents: ‘Don’t help the students, because if you try to help them one way, and I try to help them another way, they get confused.’
I give my students my number, and they can call or Facetime me any time.
At first the parents are surprised, because they think they are supposed to help.
But then they’re very relieved.
It’s a real honor. Positive things.
I say: ‘The only negative things I want you to deal with are negative numbers.
No negative people, no negative thoughts, let’s just keep everything positive.’
So if they get something wrong, I’ll say: ‘I guess you want to try it a different way.’
I try not to say it’s wrong, but it’s not the correct way we’re looking for.
I say ‘We are looking for.’ So it’s a thing that we share.
Are there any specific challenges that you face as a tutor?
“I think finding the right key for them.
Sometimes the teacher will ask them: ‘You got that, right?’ And of course they’ll say yes.
So I say: ‘Tell me what about this might confuse you.’
So I’m addressing that it may be confusing. And then they open up and tell me what’s going on.
I never ask: ‘Any questions?’
I say: ‘What part of this is not quite right?’
So I think that is the most challenging part, finding whatever the key is.”
Are there any challenges that you think students face today? How do you help students to overcome these challenges?
“A lot of times I find that, especially in elementary grades, that they are trying to do things that they think are going to be helpful, but make things more confusing.
They use a lot of little boxes and graphs and stuff.
So instead of just saying four times seven, they have to draw little circles with little dots inside them.
That needs to be bypassed.
That’s just one extra step.
When they get to the next level, they won’t even be able to use those little circles or graphs.
So they’re trying to break it down when it doesn’t need to be broken down.”
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to become a tutor?
“If someone wants to be a tutor, number one, they have to love the subject, and they have to feel that they have patience, because sometimes you may have to explain things several times, in different ways.
You have to be patient, you have to really care about your students.
My fee is lower, I think, than anyone in the county, because to me, it’s not about that.
This is a budget that the parents have to do, and they’re coming sometimes twice a week.
It has to be something reasonable that they can afford.
To me, that’s the most important thing.”
How can students receive services?
For those who are interested in her services, Laura Morris can be reached by phone at (850) 591-7776 and by email at [email protected]
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