By Lauren Berger ’18
After serving nearly two decades as principal of Immaculate Heart High School, veteran Virginia Hurst, IHM, has retired and passed the torch to her successor: Naemah Morris. A fellow Angelino, Ms. Morris graduated from Immaculate Heart in 1995 and returned in 2000 after discovering her vocation lay in education, not law.
Forever a Panda at heart, Ms. Morris said it was an easy decision to return to her alma mater where she has cherished memories of enduring friendships and her first Welcome Day as The Freaky Freshman From the Beyond. “Learning was fun, school was fun,” Morris recalls of her student years. “I looked forward to coming to school because it was a place where I wasn’t just accepted but valued, and I still do!”
Initially a history teacher, Ms. Morris went on to become the chair of Immaculate Heart’s Social Studies Department as well as the longtime coach of the school’s Speech and Debate team. “I loved my job because everyday was as fun and as exciting as I was willing to make it,” says a reminiscent Morris.
After pursuing her master’s degree, Ms. Morris accepted the office of Director of Student activities where she continued to coach until July 1st of this year when appointed principal. When asked what she enjoys most about her position, Ms. Morris was quick to answer that it’s the different perspective her new role offers her. “IHHS has diverse students, interests, and talents. I really love that and as principal I [can observe that] from a whole other viewpoint.”
Looking towards the upcoming year, Ms. Morris hopes to refine school polices, balancing practical purpose with time-honored tradition. Believing in room for improvement, Morris champions “open[ness] but with a healthy respect for decisions that have made this place work so well for so long.” Her enactments can be noted in tweaks such as an improved uniform policy, Welcome Dance on Saturday – not Friday – night, and lunch tables in the Senior Courtyard.
“Initially I planned to teach here only for two years,” points out Ms. Morris. “That was 16 years ago. I can’t imagine being anywhere else – I can’t imagine leaving Immaculate Heart. It’s an extension of my home.”