For many, there was an exceptional teacher in high school who we remember as clearly as if they’d stepped out of a dusty yearbook and into our lives today.
In Columbia, Frances Morris was such a beloved teacher. For many years, she taught English, and sometimes French, at Columbia High School and later at Caldwell Parish High School.
Morris was so revered that more than 30 years ago, her former students from the CPHS class of 1957 established a scholarship fund in her honor. The Frances Morris Scholarship Fund was administered by class members Charles Meador and Charles Thompson, and later Scott Meredith. An account was established at Caldwell Bank & Trust Co., and over the years, contributions grew the fund. The first scholarship was awarded in 1987.
In late 2019, guardians of the fund sought advice from another of Morris’ former students, Freeman Stamper, on how to manage the scholarship in the future. Stamper, a Caldwell Parish native, is an active ULM alumnus and member of the Kitty DeGree Bell Tower Society. Stamper recommended the scholarship be transferred to the ULM Foundation.
Recently, the Caldwell Parish Morris Endowed Scholarship was established at ULM. A check presentation was held at Laird Weems Center to honor the memory of Morris and the community that contributed to the scholarship. Special guests were Morris’ daughter, Fran Morris Childress and her husband Danny of Columbia.
Morris died in 1992, but her daughter said she would be pleased.
“Mother would have been absolutely thrilled to be here today. She would blush a little and say ‘aw shucks,’ but inside she would adore the whole thing. She had many success stories like Freeman, and took a great amount of pride in that,” she said.
“She adored teaching. My mother was frugal, but I do believe that was the one thing in her life she would have paid (them) to let her teach,” Childress said.
Stamper provided background about how the scholarship came about and what makes it unique. He shared that Morris’ efforts resulted in his scholarship to ULM.
“The miraculous thing about this story is this money came in drips and drabs – $5, $10, $25, maybe $100 or so,” Stamper said. “Over 32 years, it’s built up to over $25,000. I wanted there to be an exaltation of the efforts of our little community. We say it is the first of its kind. It is the first scholarship created by a whole community for the students of a particular school in that community,” Freeman said.
By placing the scholarship with the ULM Foundation, it will be secure for generations to come.
“We’re really excited it can never be forgotten; it can never fall by the wayside; it will never just sit in the bank and become unclaimed property. It will live in perpetuity,” Stamper said.
The scholarship requires the recipient to attend ULM. Criteria include, in part: high school 3.0 cumulative GPA and must include a 3.0 GPA in high school English, scholarship awarded to an incoming freshman who graduated from Caldwell Parish High School, and a full-time student in good standing with the university.