Meet Cumberland County ESP of the Year Damita White-Morris
For Damita White-Morris, the 2022 Cumberland County ESP of the Year, life had other plans for her when she was planning her post-college future.
“When I graduated from Delaware State University in 2006, it was the beginning of a recession,” White-Morris recalled. “Most of the jobs I applied for were either eliminated or combined, so I became a substitute teacher. My former high school assistant principal, who had since become the principal, pulled me into her office to discuss my employment plans. She shared with me how much she believed in me and assisted me with the alternate route process to teach science.”
Once White-Morris began working in the schools, she saw so many disparities, especially with minority students.
“I did all I knew how to help my students excel,” White-Morris said. “I had so many obstacles and challenges that took me away from my own child’s success in school that I decided to apply for the position of attendance officer. I hoped to help students and parents understand and appreciate education from a different perspective.
“I was only planning to be here for six months tops, but I’ve been an attendance officer for 12 years.” White-Morris added.
White-Morris demonstrates the value of education for her students. She holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and criminal justice. She has master’s degree in administration of justice with a concentration in homeland security. She also is an active member of many organizations, although she is particularly proud to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and municipal chair for the city of Bridgeton.
White-Morris brings all her education and experience to the table when it comes to advocating for students and helping parents.
“I am a parent and I know what it’s like trying to navigate a system and coming up short,” White-Morris said. “Since I was a little girl I have always wanted to help people. I thought I would be a doctor or a lawyer but instead, I became an educator and I love it. God has blessed me to help my parents and my students in my role as an attendance officer. I realized early in the position, if a child is having attendance issues, nine-and-a-half times out of 10, there are other pressing issues in the home. In order to have successful students, we must first have successful parents.”
In her position as an attendance officer, White-Morris has organized and hosted various resource fairs for parents where different agencies come into the schools and provide services. One of her favorite events is the parent “chat and chew,” where parents can share their concerns, needs and suggestions over a meal in the hopes of improving their child’s educational experience.
White-Morris is an expert in building relationships and representing proudly. She appreciates the honor of being named the Cumberland County ESP of the Year because she believes it will open even more doors for her to bring opportunities to the students and families she serves.