Plainfield East teacher recognized for anti-drunk driving work

5/27/2014, 8:13 a.m.
Kate Morris was inducted into her alma mater's Foundation Legacy Hall for the work she's done teaching students the dangers ...
Kate Morris

Plainfield School District 202, with schools in Plainfield, Joliet, Romeoville and Bolingbrook, issued this news story:

A moment of intense sadness has led Plainfield East High School English teacher and Student Council advisor Kate Morris to her life’s passion.

Morris’ sister, 17-year-old Erin Olmsted died in 1997 in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Morris has worked since then to try to help teens and young adults avoid the painful consequences of drinking and driving.

For her efforts, Consolidated High School District 230 recently inducted Morris into its Foundation Legacy Hall. Morris graduated from District 230’s Carl Sandburg High School in 2000.

The District 230 Foundation Legacy Hall recognizes and honors graduates from Sandburg, Stagg and Andrew high schools who exemplify District 230’s core mission of producing adults prepared to realize their life-long potential in an ever-changing world.

Nominations are accepted in eight categories:

Arts and Entertainment

Business and Commerce

Community and Volunteerism

Education and Humanities

Government and Military

Philanthropy and Non-Profit

Science and Technology

Sports and Recreation

Twelve alumni were inducted this year, joining 65 current Legacy Hall members.

Morris and her family wanted to do something to honor her sister, who was an exemplary student, athlete and member of the Sandburg High School community.

In 1998 they founded the Erin E. Olmsted Memorial Scholarship, which has been given to graduating seniors at Sandburg High School. Morris also started giving scholarships to PEHS seniors four years ago. Sandburg High School and PEHS students have received $45,000 through the scholarship.

Morris also works with the Alliance against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) and regularly speaks to high school and college students about the dangers of drunken driving. She also helps run the Erin’s AAIM for Change 5K run/walk each September. Proceeds from the run help fund the scholarship and support AAIM

“Sandburg enveloped me and my family with kindness and support during a time when we needed it most; it became my second home,” Morris said.

“The teachers, counselors, and administrators really helped me get through that most difficult time in my life and exemplified what I feel a school needs to be. I always figure that if I can give my students even a smidge of what they gave me, I am doing well,” she said.

“This award means that I have left a mark on Sandburg, but, in all honesty, they have made a much larger, permanent imprint on my life than I could ever have left for them,” Morris said.