Lifelong Learner: Rankin named JCS Elementary Teacher of the Year

South Side third-grade teacher Morgan Rankin is the Johnson City Schools elementary level teacher of the year. Photo by Collin Brooks

South Side’s Morgan Rankin is the teacher in her third-grade classroom, but that doesn’t mean she never stops learning. Rankin takes every opportunity she can to learn from her peers, and students, to become the best teacher she can. 

“Personal experience has convinced me that the most effective teachers regularly reflect on their practices and carefully analyze their student work for successes and areas for growth,” Rankin said. “It is only through thoughtful analysis that I can truly understand not only what my students have achieved, but how and why?” 

That work ethic is one reason that Rankin was selected as the Johnson City Schools’ Teacher of the Year at the elementary level. Rankin joined Liberty Bell Middle School teacher Haley Reynolds and Science Hill High School’s Sandy Babel as district-level winners.  

“I was absolutely shocked,” Rankin said of the recognition. “So many of the people that were nominated for the same category are teachers that I look up to. So, I couldn’t believe it.” 

Rankin joined South Side six years ago after she and her husband relocated from Canada. Picking up a career in a new country was not all that difficult for Rankin who had eight years of classroom experience from her time in Hamilton, Ontario. Rankin started teaching at South Side in 2015 as a third-grade teacher and joined the second-grade team in 2018. She didn’t always think that she would be a teacher, as she leaned toward becoming a veterinarian. But her empathy lead her into the classroom and it is where she believes she found her true calling.   

“(Being a teacher) is just so much more than the academic, you’re helping shape humans, and I love that piece of teaching,” Rankin said through a smile. “So, it was just that I noticed that I really like interacting with kids and talking with them.” 

But Rankin does not only enjoy teaching, she also enjoys working with her peers to implement engaging lessons and assessments to meet the needs of all students. Rankin has been a member of the Technology Teacher Leader Academy since its inception in 2016. She noted that her time with that group has helped her learn how to incorporate technology into her classroom. It was also a great preparation to help get through the problems that arise as a remote teacher during the pandemic.  

“I had to approach everything almost completely differently,” Rankin said about this school year. “You just underestimate how much easier it is when you can just reach over and point at something for a student or click on something for a student.” 

Earning this honor during such a hectic year has been icing on the cake for Rankin. 

“This has probably been the hardest year of my entire teaching career,” Rankin said. “Everything was new this year, so it’s hard being a 15-year teacher, but I felt like a newbie all year-long…To be recognized in a year that I thought I was a newbie, that was pretty awesome.”


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