Ken has taught visual arts for more than six years in the great state of South Carolina. He loves working with middle schoolers for an assortment of reasons, the greatest reason being that middle schoolers rarely apply reason. This sounds crazy, but reason doesn't always make for the best works of visual art or design. Take the master, George Lucas for instance. People said he was crazy for wanting to create a space western/fantasy. Those people applied reason. We see where that got them.
During the summer of 2011, Morrill spent two weeks at his parents' house in Western New York (not the city). He had some ideas lingering in the back of his brain that he wanted to contextualize the upcoming school year. He climbed the creaky stairs to his childhood bedroom and pulled out a box of his old toys. In it he found Star Com and Star Wars figures and vehicles. These toys provided just the context he needed. His students would develop vehicles, products, and services to meet the needs of a growing human habitation of our solar system in the year 2065 (not exactly a long time ago). Then, he stole ideas from Star Wars, such as an imperial governmental structure fighting against rebels seeking autonomy in their necks of the galactic woods. War always creates unusual economic opportunities. See more about these projects below.
Morrill earned his certificate in K12 education and a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from Winthrop University in 2008. He has earned the 2011 and 2014 Teacher of the Year awards at Sanders Middle School in Laurens, SC. He also earned the District Teacher of the Year award for 2014 in Laurens 55. These awards were due in great part to the role the Star Wars saga and other Lucas films have played on his imagination in building curriculum.
This year, Morrill has spread his X-wings and moved to Riverside Middle School in Greer, SC. His goals include expanding the role Star Wars plays in the classroom, developing lasting partnerships with the community and local industry, developing community and region-based projects with arts and design professionals, and continuing to build the program he began in Laurens County.
I use Star Wars as the context for my Media, Visual Arts and Design students to levitate ideas off. Otherwise, use of a Jedi mind trick or two is required to ignite the thrusters of their Hoth-cold minds. For instance, in 2012, we decided to replicate the Star Wars universe's themes by traveling into the year 2065 to begin our own space-bound Republic/Empire. MVAD students were tasked with developing and prototyping products and services for space-faring colonists on the Moon and Mars. Colonists were violently rebelling against the evil ESA (Earth Space Alliance) to earn rights as autonomous societies within a unified republic. My students saw right through the ploy and called me out for ripping off the genius, George Lucas. They loved being able to choose sides. Some chose to side with the ESA/Empire. Some chose to be rebels/Rogue Fighters. While the rest chose to be warlords and trade with all parties.
**All information shared with permission.