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Denise Morris always knew she wanted to be a teacher but thought English would be her chosen field. After enrolling in home economics in eighth grade and becoming a member of FHA/HERO in high school and under the positive influence of her home economics teacher, Bea Paul, she quickly realized home economics was where she needed to be.

She served as president of Chisholm High School’s FHA/HERO chapter her senior year and enrolled in Oklahoma State University in 1979. While at OSU, she was elected to the Home Economics Freshman Student Council and then to the College of Home Economics student government. She was a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron, was on the Dean and President’s Honor Rolls and was recognized as a Top Ten Senior for the College of Home Economics.

Morris started her teaching career at Helena-Goltry High School and finished at her alma mater Chisholm High School. As a family and consumer sciences educator, she strived to provide opportunities for her students academically as well as through the student organization FHA/HERO, now Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

During her teaching career, Denise advised six FHA/HERO state officers and numerous district officers. She had multiple STAR Event winners at the district, region, state and national levels. To watch her students succeed and grow personally and professionally gave her great satisfaction. She was named Teacher of the Year at Helena-Goltry and Chisholm High Schools, OkACTE Outstanding New Teacher and FCCLA Master Adviser.

Her passion for FCCLA turned into a career change in 1999 as she became the Oklahoma FCCLA state adviser. For the next 21 years, Morris had a steadfast commitment to take the Oklahoma FCCLA legacy left to her and move it forward. Under her leadership, Oklahoma FCCLA had 13 national officers, including one national president. Oklahoma was chosen to pilot the STOP the Violence program and several new STAR Events and was the first state to implement postsecondary membership and competitions.

National FCCLA tagged her to serve on numerous task forces including bylaws, elections, meetings, diversity and competitive events. She served as the Southern Region representative on the State Leadership Team and as the lead coordinator for national STAR Events. She was elected to the National Board of Directors, on which she served a four-year term as chair-elect, chair and past chair. She received the National Distinguished Service Award and National Honorary Member Award from National FCCLA, was named State Adviser of the Year and was one of 75 people chosen for the 75th anniversary Hall of Fame. She is a lifetime member of both the Oklahoma and National FCCLA alumni organizations.

While serving as state FCCLA adviser, Morris also advised the newly established Oklahoma FCCLA Alumni Association; its vision was to become a support organization to FCCLA members and advisers. Alumni activities have grown to include a state convention activity, a partnership with the Oklahoma City Thunder, an FCCLA merchandise store and two higher education scholarships granted to members each year. To ensure that Oklahoma FCCLA members continue to have opportunities, Morris set up a fund to support the Summer Leadership Summit to spark the passion in young members.

Morris also received the NATFACS Distinguished Service Award and was named an Oklahoma State University College of Education and Human Sciences Outstanding Alumni.

Since retiring, Morris continues her involvement in Oklahoma FCCLA by serving as a competitive events evaluator and has collaborated to write two new competitions. Her passion for students has led her to substitute teach at Autry Technology Center and Chisholm High School and work with the youth at her church.

Last Modified on Jul 18, 2024
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