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Bill Cook Award Presented to Mr. Morgan

The Potomac School honored Mr. Cort Morgan, K-12 art department chair, with the 2023 Bill Cook Award for Excellent Teaching during the school’s Opening Assembly on September 8. Named in honor of beloved teacher and Assistant Head of School Bill Cook, who passed away in 2016, the award is presented annually to teachers “who exemplify the commitment to excellence and love of learning that define a Potomac School education.”

Morgan, who is celebrating his 40th year at Potomac, has chaired the school’s art department for the past 15 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard University.

“This award is a testament to the dedication and compassion Cort has for his students. His teaching goes beyond the important focus of his courses alone; he encourages students to dig deeper and discover ways to think critically about everything,” shares Head of School John Kowalik.

During a community event last year, Morgan spoke about the value that the arts bring to a well-rounded education and to the human experience at large, saying ‘If you wonder whether we really need time and space for the arts, consider how much our whole species depends on imagination and innovation, and consider that all facts begin as fictions, and all deeds begin as dreams.’

“As an educator he pushes us to challenge what we know and the way things are in search of the way things should be. He claims to teach us good design – but in his classroom –ultimately, we learn to be good people.” one of Morgan’s architecture students, senior Matt Brow.

Mr. Morgan has taught in the Intermediate and Upper Schools and served as an outdoor education leader, tech director, advisor, and coach. Kowalik shares, “He translates his love of the arts to his students through teaching drawing, painting, sculpture, woodworking, architecture, art history, and more. He has built wooden bridges and boardwalks, a deck, outdoor classrooms, and a concrete spillway for a pond at Potomac.” He continues, “Using wood harvested from the campus, he has also skillfully built conference and coffee tables, benches, podiums, and more. It may be his work beyond the classroom and devotion to Potomac that truly sets him apart.”

When he teaches, his students also learn the responsibility they have as stewards of Potomac’s campus and nature. Kowalik notes that Morgan’s stewardship of the school’s outdoor spaces is “unparalleled.”

“Mr. Morgan teaches us the role of architect, not as cake decorator, but as a facilitator for broader societal change. My first year as his student, we were tasked with designing and building a model of a monument to an idea. We discussed monuments and the various messages they carry. Unlike most of the monuments that come to mind, ones to Washington, Lincoln, and the like, Mr. Morgan challenged us to use design to concretely commemorate an inherently abstract thing, an idea, using sustainable materials," adds Brow.

We thank him for his many contributions to Potomac and congratulate him on receiving this well-deserved honor.

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