Morgan defines a great teacher

Published 12:44 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

ECU Educators Hall of Fame inductee Dolores Morgan (second from right) is flanked by her sponsors (from left) J.C. Morgan, Marie Williams and Walter Williams. (Submitted Photo)

She’s a Beaufort County girl through and through.

Dolores Hayes Morgan was born in Belhaven, married a Bath man and resides in Bayview, but it’s the 30 years she spent teaching in Beaufort County high schools that have made her the newest inductee into the East Carolina University Educators Hall of Fame.

Morgan started her teaching career at Pantego High School in 1963, retired from Northside High School in 1994 and between those years taught English and journalism, was the yearbook and school newspaper advisers, organized junior and senior proms and served as chaperone to an entire generation of students at Bath High School. For most of her career, she worked with Jack Wallace, for whom her appreciation is plain: “He was a great principal,” she stated unequivocally.

On Saturday, Morgan was recognized for her own brand of greatness in a ceremony at Fletcher Recital Hall on the ECU campus. The award is given by the College of Education in recognition “of the service of those educators to whom East Carolina alumni and friends are most grateful.”

The grateful ECU alumni who sponsored Morgan into the Hall of Fame are Walter and Marie Williams, Morgan’s next-door neighbors in Bayview. Their donation provided a permanent place of recognition for their friend on the wall in ECU’s Speight Building and contributes to an endowment used to fund merit-based scholarships for ECU’s College of Education.

“It knocked me off my feet,” said Morgan of learning about the award, but she wasn’t surprised to find Williams behind it. “He’s the type of person who likes to see people out there working hard get some recognition,” she said.

Morgan is recognized, literally, on a regular basis. She often runs into people who once sat behind desks in her classrooms.

“I loved my students so much,” Morgan said. “My relationship with them kept me on a high. I never considered getting out of my career.”

She recalled one highlight of a career teaching young people to write with fondness: “I remember one boy — he was taking journalism with me, and he’d never done very well in his writing. He was a great football player, though. He told me, ‘I don’t think I’m capable of doing this,’ but he started writing, and he was so excited when he finished his composition because he’d written a great story. The expression on his face meant so much to me.”

The thrill of teaching a young person to exceed his or her expectations is what defines Morgan as a great teacher.

“To be a great teacher you have to have an honest desire to see the students succeed,” said Morgan. “But it’s not all about success in what they do; it’s about them feeling secure in themselves, too.”

Morgan retired in 1994, but she hasn’t quite given up the teaching profession. She continues to work part-time as a supervisor to ECU education students doing their required teaching internships. There may, however, be another reason why Morgan hasn’t relinquished teaching altogether: “These students — they help keep you young.”