Educator of the Week: Christa Morgan | Silk Hope School & Virginia Cross Elementary School

Posted 3/13/20

Grades/subjects you teach: Reading/K-5

E-mail address: cdmorgan@chatham.k12.nc.us

Date, place of birth: August 31 in Siler City.

Education: Jordan-Matthews High School; University of North …

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Educator of the Week: Christa Morgan | Silk Hope School & Virginia Cross Elementary School

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Posted

Grades/subjects you teach: Reading/K-5

E-mail address: cdmorgan@chatham.k12.nc.us

Date, place of birth: August 31 in Siler City.

Education: Jordan-Matthews High School; University of North Carolina at Greensboro (bachelor’s degree in elementary education, master’s degree in reading).

Work history: My teaching career began at Silk Hope School 21 years ago. I taught first or second grade there for 19 years. Last year I became the reading specialist at Silk Hope School. This year I am a reading specialist at Silk Hope School and at Virginia Cross Elementary School.

Honors/awards: National Board Certification

Hobbies/interests outside of educating: I spend most of my free time cheering for my children as they play baseball and basketball. I also enjoy fishing with my dad, my husband and my boys. I love shopping and talking with my mom. Basically, I just want to spend time with my family.

Family: My husband’s name is Randy. We have three children, all boys. Our oldest is Dustin and he is married to Victoria, one of my sweetest 1st graders from many years ago. Our middle child, Christopher (he prefers Chris) is a senior at Jordan-Matthews. Our youngest, Austin, is in 4th grade at Silk Hope School.

What led you to a career in education?: When Dustin was 2 years old, I realized that I had a gift for teaching him letters and sounds in creative ways. When he was five, I decided to work with the YMCA outdoor summer camp and take care of Dustin as well as 10 other kindergarten children all day, every day in the heat of the summer. After that experience, I knew that I had what it takes to be a teacher. I absolutely loved spending time with children, not just my own children.

Who were your favorite teachers as you went through school, and what did you learn from them?: My favorite teacher was Mrs. Bostic at Chimney Lane Christian Academy. She made me feel important and I could tell that she truly cared about me. She was patient and kind to everyone, all the time. I learned that there are others in my life, besides my parents, who I could trust and talk to when something was bothering me.

Has becoming an educator been all you expected it would be?: There is nothing else in this world that I would rather be doing with my life. I LOVE my job. I LOVE my students. I LOVE making a positive impact on the lives of children year after year. I really didn’t know what to expect when I became a teacher, but I have always been happy with my career choice.

How has education changed since you were a student?: When I was in high school, I learned to type using a typewriter. I would feed the paper into the top of the typewriter. When I made a mistake, I rolled the paper up and covered my mistake with White Out. I didn’t use a computer until I was in college. Making mistakes is so much easier to fix on a computer. Technology advancements have definitely been a positive change in education.

What “makes your day” as an educator?: When I see the sparkle in a student’s eyes and the smile on his/her face when they learn a new concept, that makes my day. When a student is eager to come “work” with me and looks forward to our next lesson, that makes my day. When my students end the school year loving to read, that makes my day.

What’s working in schools today?: We are focusing more on differentiated learning experiences for students which is exactly what our students need. It is a major challenge for educators to plan/prepare, but our focus is moving in the right direction. Our schools are also focusing on the social and emotional needs of students, which have to be addressed before a student can think about learning anything.

What’s not working?: Working in schools today is very difficult. Teachers have so much they need to teach, with so many different student needs, and not enough support to meet the diverse needs. We need more support to meet the social and emotional needs of students (like more school psychologists, behavior specialists, therapists, and instructional assistants). I know that Chatham County Schools, with support from our county commissioners, are doing the best they can to support teachers and students. The government is not providing enough support and that is not working.

What’s your favorite memory of your first year in education?: I remember the celebration we had for Grandparents Day. My class invited all of their grandparents for a morning filled with reading, crafts, math, writing and snacks. My favorite memory was when the grandparents ‘adopted’ grandchildren for the day, treating them with the same kindness and love as their “real” grandchildren. That is a precious memory.

How would your “educator” persona handle you as a student?: When I was young, I really struggled with reading. I didn’t enjoy school but wanted to spend time with my friends. My “educator” persona would take my hand, look me in the eyes and assure me that I can do anything. She would figure out why I am struggling, and she would provide me with exactly what I need to learn how to decode words. She would set high expectations that I could reach. She would be patient, kind, and always expect my very best.

Best piece of advice for other educators?: You are not alone. Get to know your colleagues and ask for help. Observe others and learn from others. Reflect on your day; what went well and what could have been better.

For students?: Keep trying. Ask for help if you don’t understand. Please don’t give up. You can do it!!

For parents?: Please read with your kids. Keep in touch with the teachers. It really makes a difference when your children see that their education is important to you, too.

What about your job would most surprise your friends who are not educators?: I’m sad to say that I think my friends would be surprised and heartbroken to know the trauma that some of our students have experienced in their young lives.

If you could somehow magically instill one truth into the heads of your students, what would it be?: You are amazing and you can do anything if you work hard and do your best.

When you think about today’s kids, you: When I think about today’s kids, I wonder how different the world will be when they are my age. What kind of technology will exist? Will they travel to the moon for vacation? What will education look like for their grandchildren?

If one of your students was asked for a one-word description of you by a student who hadn’t had you as an educator, what would that one word be?: I hope the one-word description would be “kind.”

How would you summarize your philosophy as an educator?: I believe that educators have one of the most important jobs in the world. Knowing that all children can learn, teachers just have to realize what makes each student “click.” We have to meet them where they are and support them academically, emotionally, socially, and physically. We must make learning meaningful, challenging, and accessible for all students. We have the privilege to make a positive impact on the lives of children every day. It’s these children who will be our leaders in the future. We must do everything we can to help them realize their potential and help them reach their dreams.

What five things must every educator know?: Educators must know their curriculum and understand the students they teach. They must know how to plan more than enough and they must be prepared for anything. Also, make connections with students so they ALL know that they are important to you.

What’s special about your education space at your school?: At Silk Hope, I am blessed to have the same classroom that I’ve used for 13 years. The room is like a wonderland of books. There is enough space to have special places for each of my reading groups to meet. I have enough room to have volunteers which enable us to work with students at the same time. We have pillows and carpet. It’s a cozy, comfortable place to work. At Virginia Cross, I also have enough space to have areas for each of my groups to meet. It’s a cozy, comfortable place to work with students too. I am blessed with space this year.

What’s special about your school?: The faculty and staff at both schools (Silk Hope and Virginia Cross) make the schools special. The faculty and staff truly care about each other, support each other, and love the students. Everyone I work with is striving to do the best they can to support their students.

Most unusual question you’ve ever gotten from a student?: I was standing in front of the projector when a student asked, “Oh, did you color your hair sparkly silver?” I just laughed, knowing that they put every one of those gray hairs in my head.

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