INTEGRITY • EXCELLENCE • STRENGTH

OUR HISTORY

1977

The Morrison School was founded by Arthur and Sharon Morrison.  It grew out of a summer tutoring program for students experiencing school -related problems (primarily learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder).  The first physical facility was on the campus of Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia.

1979

The Morrison School moved to Emmanuel Episcopal Church in downtown Bristol, Virginia.

1980s

The school bought a farmhouse in 1981 on the border of Bristol, Virginia and Washington County, and operated in that location until 2015.  Enrollment grew from 25 students to the point that building capacity was reached. Satellite schools were opened in Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee in 1984.  The combined enrollment of the two satellite schools was near 100 students.  The satellite schools continued to operate in those communities until 1990 when the school consolidated back into the original Bristol, Virginia facility. In the mid-1980’s The Morrison School students formed basketball and soccer teams that participated with other teams from area private schools and organizations.

1990s

In 1994 The Morrison School began an association with River’s Way, a non-profit organization focusing on outdoor adventure activities with an emphasis on team work, leadership development, risk taking, and social skills.  Students participate in high ropes, rock wall climbing, caving, white water rafting, and other challenging physical activities which are used to enhance their physical, personal, and social abilities. A dual enrollment system was implemented allowing Morrison students to take classes and earn college credits from local colleges while enrolled at The Morrison School.  High School field trips were instituted for Morrison students.  These trips are designed to complement studies in government, history, science, and the arts. A recent trip to Richmond, Virginia included a visit to the Virginia Supreme Court and observing the Virginia House of Representatives while in session. Important highlights of other recent trips include visits to nationally renowned art museums and various historical sites.

2000s

The Kiwanis Club of Bristol joined with The Morrison School in 2008 to allow selected students to be guests at their meetings each week.  These community leaders assisted students in learning civic responsibility by observing the organization in action. In 2010 The Morrison School began a pre-vocational program in partnership with local Community Colleges.  This program addresses soft vocational skills such as completing job applications, the importance of being on time, and accepting instruction. Utilizing community leaders and business executives, mock job interviews with follow-up critiques are conducted and off-site job locations are visited.  This program prepares students for life experiences related to work and increases their ability to succeed in the workplace. Several local colleges (King University, Virginia Highlands Community College, and others) partnered with Morrison School allowing students to utilize college resources in an effort to prepare students for higher education. Students participated in the Lego’s Robotic competition several years with some success. The project enhances computer and science learning while providing camaraderie and a sense of accomplishment among students.

2013

The Morrison School students participate in Project Real with the historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. This unique project uses theater and drama to enhance personal and social development.  Each class collaborated with Barter Theatre staff members to create their own productions.  The plays were presented to live audiences on the Barter Theatre Main Stage.

2016-17

Facility plans included an outside playground, soccer field, garden, and fitness trail. An Early Childhood Program  was added to the Morrison School in January 2016.  This is a therapeutic academic and behavioral program for children ages 4 and 5.  It offers an Applied Behavior Analysis  approach to intervention relative to difficulties with academic, personal, and social development.  The program places an emphasis on academic readiness and the development of specific learning skills that include following directions, cooperative play, effective communication skills, and sustaining focus.

Apr. '17

The Morrison School Board of Directors appointed Jami Verderosa as the new Head of School to serve as the chief academic, financial, and executive leader of the school succeeding Sharon Morrison, the Founder.

1977 The Morrison School was founded by Arthur and Sharon Morrison.  It grew out of a summer tutoring program for students experiencing school -related problems (primarily learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder).  The first physical facility was on the campus of Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia.

1979 The Morrison School moved to Emmanuel Episcopal Church in downtown Bristol, Virginia.

1980s The school bought a farmhouse in 1981 on the border of Bristol, Virginia and Washington County, and operated in that location until 2015.  Enrollment grew from 25 students to the point that building capacity was reached. Satellite schools were opened in Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee in 1984.  The combined enrollment of the two satellite schools was near 100 students.  The satellite schools continued to operate in those communities until 1990 when the school consolidated back into the original Bristol, Virginia facility. In the mid-1980’s The Morrison School students formed basketball and soccer teams that participated with other teams from area private schools and organizations.

1990s In 1994 The Morrison School began an association with River’s Way, a non-profit organization focusing on outdoor adventure activities with an emphasis on team work, leadership development, risk taking, and social skills.  Students participate in high ropes, rock wall climbing, caving, white water rafting, and other challenging physical activities which are used to enhance their physical, personal, and social abilities. A dual enrollment system was implemented allowing Morrison students to take classes and earn college credits from local colleges while enrolled at The Morrison School.  High School field trips were instituted for Morrison students.  These trips are designed to complement studies in government, history, science, and the arts. A recent trip to Richmond, Virginia included a visit to the Virginia Supreme Court and observing the Virginia House of Representatives while in session. Important highlights of other recent trips include visits to nationally renowned art museums and various historical sites.     

2000s The Kiwanis Club of Bristol joined with The Morrison School in 2008 to allow selected students to be guests at their meetings each week.  These community leaders assisted students in learning civic responsibility by observing the organization in action. In 2010 The Morrison School began a pre-vocational program in partnership with local Community Colleges.  This program addresses soft vocational skills such as completing job applications, the importance of being on time, and accepting instruction. Utilizing community leaders and business executives, mock job interviews with follow-up critiques are conducted and off-site job locations are visited.  This program prepares students for life experiences related to work and increases their ability to succeed in the workplace. Several local colleges (King University, Virginia Highlands Community College, and others) partnered with Morrison School allowing students to utilize college resources in an effort to prepare students for higher education. Students participated in the Lego’s Robotic competition several years with some success. The project enhances computer and science learning while providing camaraderie and a sense of accomplishment among students.  

2013 - The Morrison School students participate in Project Real with the historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. This unique project uses theater and drama to enhance personal and social development.  Each class collaborated with Barter Theatre staff members to create their own productions.  The plays were presented to live audiences on the Barter Theatre Main Stage.  

2015 - With complete funding from The James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Foundation, The United Company Charitable Foundation, The United Company and J.A. Street and Associates, a new school building was constructed in early 2015 and has been in operation since the summer session of 2015.  The building can accommodate up to 100 students with classrooms, offices, and a full-sized gymnasium.

2016-2017, facility plans included an outside playground, soccer field, garden, and fitness trail. An Early Childhood Program  was added to the Morrison School in January 2016.  This is a therapeutic academic and behavioral program for children ages 4 and 5.  It offers an Applied Behavior Analysis  approach to intervention relative to difficulties with academic, personal, and social development.  The program places an emphasis on academic readiness and the development of specific learning skills that include following directions, cooperative play, effective communication skills, and sustaining focus.

April of 2017 The Morrison School Board of Directors appointed Jami Verderosa as the new Head of School to serve as the chief academic, financial, and executive leader of the school succeeding Sharon Morrison the Founder.

About the Founders

Private School in Bristol, VA Bristol, TN Kingsport, TN Johnson City, TN | The Morrison School

Sharon Morrison grew up in Baltimore, Md., and met her husband, Arthur, while a student at King College in Bristol, Tenn. The two became friends, and later were engaged. They married in California in 1975, where she had been working after graduation. The next year was spent with each trying to persuade the other to relocate. Sharon did the migrating and returned to Bristol in 1977. That same year, she and Arthur founded the Morrison School for special needs students.

Arthur, having spent 40 years working in the metal fabrication industry, began a second and very different phase of his life in the field of special education. However, his lifelong interest in people made it a natural step for him to dedicate the rest of his life to improving the plight of children and youth who learn differently. He served as the school’s business manager for the 30 years leading up to his death in 2008.  For every minute of every day of those 30 years, Arthur loved and was totally committed to Morrison School and its mission.  His unwavering devotion is what enabled the school to survive and thrive through those early, very challenging and bumpy years.

Sharon Morrison holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology and a doctorate in education. She has held licensure in marriage, family and child counseling, psychological examining, school psychology, and instructional supervision.

Dr. Morrison has presented seminars and workshops on parenting disabled children and on instructional methods of teaching academics to students who learn differently. Through her doctoral research, she developed a method to assess effective parenting of children with learning disabilities, attention deficits, or emotional disturbance. That research was used to develop a parent and teacher handbook called “Teaching Responsibility and Independence through Homework.” Dr. Morrison has taught special education classes at East Tennessee State University and child development courses at Virginia Intermont College.

Dr. Morrison served as the chief administrative director, curriculum and instructional supervisor, and school psychologist at Morrison School since its founding in 1977 until her retirement in May of 2017.