We had the good fortune of connecting with Le Airre Morris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Le Airre, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
As of now, my balance between starting my career as an Art educator and creating new art pieces has drastically changed. However, it was my choice to put my career first and my side hustle second. Before August 24, 2020, I was pushing out new art work once a week and hosting painting classes. I stopped doing both to focus more on becoming a new elementary art teacher. Making this decision was the right move because Covid had changed our normal lives, Houston ISD went virtual for the first six weeks, and being a first year teacher…a lot of professional development training. So for 5 months, I have not made any personal art work or commission pieces. The time I would normally use for creating, I am either finishing up some training or finding ways to better reach out to the next generations about art. Everybody keeps asking what’s going on? why haven’t I made any art lately? and etc. Which I reply back with “I am focusing on my new career and want to give it my full attention before I start doing any personal or commission pieces.” Which is true. However, If you know me, you would know becoming an art teacher was always my dream. Selling pieces, being in a museum, or trying to get my name out there wasn’t truly for me. So this balance or changed that took place had actually worked out for me in a good way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently an Elementary Art Teacher at Frost Elementary. What sets me apart from the other teachers is experience. This is my first year teaching, so everything is new to me….and I mean EVERYTHING! However, I am loving everything about it. I come to work everyday knowing I am going to learn something new whether if its from the students, teachers, or even the janitors. I thought I was doing an “Okay” job. but everybody is saying I am doing beyond great. So hearing and seeing that I am doing excellent in my first 5 months of teaching is one of my most proudest moments of 2020. Becoming an Art teacher wasn’t easy. I graduated at Texas Southern University with a Bachelors of Arts degree with a concentration in Art History and Art Education. Even though TSU had an education department, there wasn’t a curriculum or program for the art majors who wanted to become a certified teacher. In order for me to become a certified teacher I had to apply at a online alternative certification program. This somewhat pushed me back into starting my career after graduation. The self-pace certification program requires a lot of determination and time, but if you are working a full-time job with a crazy work schedule you could possibly take a little longer to finish the courses. Some might say COVID had caused a lot set backs for them, but for me…it didn’t. I stopped working my full-time job as a pest control technician at the beginning of April when COVID started hitting us hard. When the city was shut down, I was still working because pet control is considered being essential and our hours had gone ridiculous. I was still trying to finish my requirements for the certification program, but couldn’t focus as much as I needed. So I made a personal decision to quit and use the time we were in locked down to finish everything. Even though it took me about a month to finish, I did it. I took the required exams to be certified and start my intern year teaching. I learned that making sacrifices in order to achieve your dreams are sometimes necessary and needed. I didn’t took a leap into faith…I wouldn’t be here today with the title “Art teacher” at all. By telling my story about making sacrifices and facing difficult challenges…I want everybody to know it’s okay to take this time to work on yourself and finish anything you haven’t completed yet. If your personal business got in the way of growing your brand or finishing any of your goals, and you have time now to finish them. Do it! The reward of knowing you had completed something you had started a long time ago is worth it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Being a home body, I never really stepped out of the house because of work and school. However, since I am done with school and my priorities are finally straighten…I been stepping out. Just recently I been to two spots with some good food and drinks. The first restaurant is “LOST & FOUND”. Their food is really good, especially their lambchops. The second restaurant is “Gloria’s Latin Cuisine”. I didn’t order any food from there, but their drinks, the “Gloria’s signature Margarita”, are very good and worth it. I am just now stepping out of my shell, so give me a minute to try all the other talked about places. lol
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out everybody who supported me. From my mama, siblings, and friends to my everybody who follow me on social media…Thank you for always motivating me! However, I really want to stop and recognize every single one of the students and staff members at Robert L. Frost Elementary. From Pre-K to 5th grade, I have learned some much about each and every one of them. Everyday is a new laugh from me because my students are the funniest little creators in all of Houston. Not a moment goes by when I walk into the school and the first thing I hear is “Hey, Mr. Morris!”, “Good Morning Art teacher!” or my favorite “What are we going to do today Mr. Morris because I really love your class!” These students are definitely making my first year of teaching a blast! Thank you, you little guys and girls are my new motivation for my next goal….pursuing my Masters in Art Education.. To the Administration staff and my fellow teachers, Thank you for making my first year go very smooth. COVID had changed everything and I know for a fact no first year teacher would experience any of this. From teaching virtually and then going face to face, the challenges we faced as a team were successfully achieved and proven how much we truly care for our students and colleagues. Again, Thank you all for the positive feedback and the motivation I needed to keep up the good work.