By Caitlin Quach
Stuart Morris is the AP U.S. History teacher at Summit Public School: Rainier. He has been part of the Summit community for the last year and a half.
1. What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “community”?
Mr. Morris feels that a group of people who have the same goal are the reason a community is a community. He thinks that for someone to reach their goal, they should have a support system behind them to accomplish that goal. “A group of people who seem to have a similar purpose for being together and people who try to help each other out in order for people to reach their goal [is a community],” Mr. Morris said.
2. What do you think makes a community a community?
Mr. Morris argued that people who are in the same area and are able to provide support for one another can help each other reach their goal. “When people are benefiting from being in a similar space together and can be growing as a person instead of being on their own and working together to reach a higher level [that is a community],” Mr. Morris said.
3. How is the community here different from the one that you were raised in?
There are many differences between the community that he was raised in and the community that he lives in now. Mr. Morris feels that there is much more diversity here than where he used to live. There is much more open-mindedness here in comparison to the closed-minded community that he was raised in. For this reason, he prefers to be in the community that he’s in now than the one he was raised in because this community is able to help him grow as a person. “This community is able to push me out of my comfort zone and allows me to grow as a person along with my thoughts,” he said.
4. What is one major change that you see in this community compared to where you were raised?
Mr. Morris thinks that the diversity and open-mindedness here are the major differences that he sees. He is able to grasp onto a community that can help him grow as a person and expand his thoughts instead of constantly having a set way to think and do things. “People are much more willing to help each other out here than in the community that I was raised in,” he said.
5. How has your view changed on the community since moving to the Bay Area?
One thing that has changed was he was never presented with a more diverse group of people to be around until he came here. In the community that Mr. Morris was raised in, he constantly saw the same people and they always looked alike. He was always stuck with the same group of people who looked alike and who had the same thoughts as everyone else. “The first night here, I went to a party in San Francisco, and I was the only straight person there. It was so awesome and eye-opening to be around such a diverse group of people in my life,” Mr. Morris said.
6. What do you like most about the Rainier community?
He loves the closeness that the Rainier community brings. This community is about becoming better people and students getting into college. The community is so small that everyone is able to be close together and tight-knit and not spread out. “I love the goal that Summit has, which is that everyone will get into at least one college. That goal isn’t easy to accomplish, but we’ve proven that it’s possible,” he said.
7. Would you recommend someone to come here to teach / be a student? Why?
He agreed that he would recommend a person to come here, whether it’s as a teacher or a student. This school system allows students to have a harder time to fall through the cracks because of the one-on-one attention that students receive. The work here that teachers have to do in order to teach their lessons is cutting-edge. “Teachers put so much work into their lessons and are constantly being pushed in every other direction, but we’re able to get the work done. That just shows the determinations that teachers have, and I love it,” he said.
8. To an outsider’s point of view, Summit is very close. How do you think recent events such as (DACA) affect our community?
He said that the recent events such as DACA have highlighted who the issue has impacted the most. It helps the community realize that they are attached to a bigger community outside of the Rainier one. For instance, when the Trump election happened, it impacted our “little bubble” in such a major way. That ended up making students realize that they are affected by bigger issues. “That election allowed us to see that we are connected to a bigger community other than the Summit one. It shows the students that there are other people out there who are feeling the same way about things that they are,” he said.
9. How would you describe the relationship between Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant?
Mr. Morris feels that there is some tension between the relationship between Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant. It seems that Mt. Pleasant isn’t very inviting in comparison to the vibes and community at Summit Rainier. It seems like it’s very difficult for us to use their facilities such as the auditorium, he said, adding that they make our simple requests seem like major ones, and that’s what steers us away from interacting with them. “Such as the incident with the parking thing, they made it such a big deal. I think that’s why there’s tension because it seems like they’re not open to having us on their campus as much as we are open to having them on ours,” he said.
10. What makes the Summit community different from any other school community?
He said that a lot of school communities are based on a bigger number of student bodies when it comes to their campus. Other school wants a bigger campus to fit more students within their school community. Once the number of people increases, there seems to be a loss of a community. Another thing that’s different about our community from other schools is the fact that we have the mentoring system. This allows for students to receive that one-on-one attention that some students may end up needing. “The single best thing about Rainier is that they have the mentoring system,” Mr. Morris said.