Photo caption: Wade Morris (Ph.D. '22) poses with his wife and children in front of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, where he teaches global politics and IB history at United World College East Africa.
story by David Hoffman
College of Education & Human Development alum Wade Morris (Ph.D. ’22) has taught in Georgia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Lebanon since he started his teaching career in the late 2000s.
Now, he and his family have settled in Tanzania, a country with a “rich history” and “such natural beauty,” Morris said.
He teaches at United World College East Africa, an international boarding school at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The school is a part of the United World Colleges movement, a network of 18 boarding schools worldwide that allow students from various countries and socioeconomic backgrounds to live, study and play together.
Morris chose to pursue this field of work after being inspired by his students in Beirut, Lebanon. While teaching abroad with his wife, Morris realized the benefits that life abroad could have for himself and his family.
“We were so impressed with our globe-trotting students in Lebanon, students who had been exposed to living on different continents for one reason or another,” he said. “We concluded that we wanted that for our children – to live overseas during their formative years and to immerse themselves in a culture different from their own.”
Morris enjoys being able to teach somewhere his three daughters (ages 8, 10 and 12) can adapt to a new culture and language, and where he can dedicate himself to incorporating East African history into his curriculum.
He teaches 11th and 12th grade global politics and IB history. In his global politics class, Morris tries to dedicate a lesson to each student’s home country and allows his students to evaluate the relevance of different political theories as they relate to their home.
“It’s exhilarating to hand the class over to my students as they share their experiences with their classmates, deepening our understanding of how politics shapes our lives in a variety of ways,” he said.
Morris’s IB history class allows him the autonomy to pursue an in-depth, two-year study of a specific region. His class is dedicated to the study of modern African history, since that’s the continent they’re currently studying in.
As rewarding as teaching abroad has been, Morris has faced his fair share of challenges. His students come from different backgrounds with different cultures around education and teaching. He’s had to adapt in order to build on his student’s previous experiences while also preparing them for the structures of IB essays and other assignments.
“The transition is not always smooth, especially since my students earned top marks in their home countries and during the adjustment period, their grades invariably take a hit,” Morris said. “Our roles here as teachers become much, much more intense. We prepare them in the classroom but sometimes become de facto parents and counselors for students overcoming remarkable challenges.”
Morris’s time in Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development has helped him prepare for these types of challenges. He credits CEHD faculty members Chara Bohan, Deron Boyles, Sue Kasun and David Stinson for pushing him to become more self-aware and critically conscious in his teaching.
“Looking back, my time at Georgia State is likely to be the main turning point of my career, an opportunity to pause and critically reflect on my profession while also finding new ways to enjoy teaching,” he said. “My professors have given me a degree of wisdom and humility in my approach that was not there before.”
Morris plans on teaching at UWCEA for another three years, but he and his family can envision themselves taking another position somewhere overseas.
“Atlanta will always be home, though, so we hope to be back someday,” he said.