By VICKI NGAN
Students of Malden High School would normally expect the usual of their teachers: they went through school, they got a degree, they became teacher, and finally, they simply teach students the materials they need to know. Simplified and clean, this thought often goes without being asked. And yet, a complex, unique background helps to define Brian Morrison. Continuously filled with and living through quirky, odd stories, Morrison has been teaching at MHS for eight years, educating students on a mixture of science-based subjects.
Morrison started off his major in physics and math at University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he stayed for a semester. “Not a serious student” from the beginning, he took the year off, working a record store in night shifts, sleeping in for his mornings. “It was a pretty lazy year,” and realizing that he was not making very much money, he was motivated to go back to college for a better career. From there, he went to Merrimack College for three and a half years, earning his bachelors degree. Going further with his education, he went to Boston College for two years, where he earned his masters degree and majored in theoretical physics. Considering himself a “PhD dropout,” he was a researcher in grad school, but he “[did not] like being in a lab all day.” His research was focused on semiconductors and superconductors, but Morrison, with his love for “anything outdoors,” decided that being a researcher was not for him.
As when he was younger, Morrison had “always been undecided.” Growing up in Reading, he was like many other young boys at the time, envisioning himself to be a firefighter, a policeman, and many other professions. His major in math and physics dawned on him only when he was in college, when his professor in Merrimack College praised him for his talent in the subjects, encouraging him to take classes that advanced him further. In terms of becoming a teacher, he “fell into it” as well. With experience beforehand in teaching others from helping his professors in college and being assigned to teach, Morrison received the opportunity to teach at MHS and took it. Through Thomas Mahoney, former D-House Principal, he filled in for a biology teacher for two months. After substituting, MHS needed a teacher who could teach physics for one and a half months, and Morrison filled in, but that subject turned out to be his main subject to teach for the eight years, accompanied by chemistry in his first four years.
Currently, he teaches two AP physics classes and two honors physics classes, a combination that is difficult to manage due to the different levels he must achieve in both groups. He does not mix the two of them up however, and has continued to keep them in sight of their goals. Ashley Freeman, MHS’ only other physics teacher, has also helped Morrison. He feels that it is better that he has someone to “collaborate with” in materials and ideas for teaching physics.
Besides teaching, Morrison has also coached for MHS’ girls soccer team before. Despite his love for soccer, he felt he should no longer coach, in order to spend more quality time with his children when they were born. A teacher holding a not-so-simple-and-straight college life, Morrison’s present at MHS holds true to his unusual pattern. One of his favorite memories at MHS was when a student named Roby would always randomly “just stand up” and sing show tunes such as Rent, a fond memory still fresh in Morrison’s mind. Although it is “certainly not grading” papers that has attracted him to this career of teaching, Morrison has found that reaching out to students of all sorts has been a huge factor in his life as a teacher. “Getting to know all the kids” and connecting with them has been a favorite part of his process of spreading his knowledge of physics.