“The biggest memory is all those thousands of kids,” says Sharon Morgan, recalling the past 38 years of her math-teaching career.
Morgan, 58, retired at the end of this school year from J.L. Long Middle School after serving as a math teacher and coach there for 28 years. The first 10 years of her career, she taught math at Sam Houston Junior High (now Middle School) in Garland.
“I started when I was just barely 20,” says Morgan. “But I’ve always taught math, always middle school.”
Throughout the years, Morgan has not only been a math instructor — she also has been instrumental in the success of competitive math programs at Long. Each year, Long participates in MathCounts, DISD’s Math Olympiad and TMSCA’s (Texas Math and Science Coaches Association) competitions.
In this year’s TMSCA statewide competition, Long fared well once again, bringing in third place trophies for the Number Sense Team, the Calculator Team and the Math Team.
But one of Morgan’s most outstanding moments in all of the years she has been involved in math contests was in 2002, when her team at Long won first place in the regional MathCounts competition, beating out St. Mark’s, one of the school’s biggest math rivals.
“That was a special event. It was really something,” she says.
Parent Mike Buchanan agrees. His son Zach, now going into his senior year at Woodrow, was on that winning team, and his daughter just completed 8th grade at Long.
“St. Mark’s dominated that competition for 20 years,” Buchanan says. “Mrs. Morgan’s team that year — Zach’s team — beat St. Mark’s. Everybody’s jaws dropped.”
In addition to helping her students amass a collection of trophies and medals, Morgan has won some awards herself. Most notably, in 1991 she was honored by the state of Texas with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics.
“That was incredibly special to me. It was one of those things [where you think] ‘I can hardly believe it,’” she says, “to have someone else affirm you’re doing a good job.”
Even though all of the awards are exciting, Morgan says that’s not the most important thing about her career.
“For me, the thing that stands out the most is how a kid looks when he finally gets something — seeing that light bulb go off.
“I’ll miss the interaction with the kids and knowing that I’ve made a difference in a kid’s life. That’s what’s kept me doing this for 38 years.”
Morgan is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Jerry, at their neighborhood home.
She also has plans to help out at a company called AP Strategies, training middle school teachers to teach gifted classes.
And the folks at Long? Well, they’ve got some big shoes too fill.
What they will miss most, Buchanan says, is Morgan’s “passion and her love for the children and that gift to inspire.”
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