Linda Morgason’s enthusiasm remains high after starting another year of helping Richmond Community Schools students learn to read.

Morgason retired from RCS in 2008 after 39 years of teaching and says she has been “very blessed.”

She was elected to the district’s school board that fall, and served two terms. Morgason also began working for Indiana University East as a supervisor for student teachers.

However, in August 2022, Morgason began what she called a “comeback journey,” leaving IU East and returning to RCS as an interventionist at Westview Elementary. She had never taught in that building.

RCS administrators say Morgason excels at planning literacy-rich remediation lessons and skill development with many of their most needy students.

“These students look forward to seeing her, and spend even 10 seconds in her classroom, and one can easily tell she feels the same,” RCS officials said in a news release when they surprised Morgason with the district’s teacher of the year honor earlier this year.

They agree that Morgason took on an important role that might not have been filled otherwise, and she has performed in the highest of levels. 

One of her recent projects has been sponsoring a visit by author Lester Laminack to Westview in October to spark children’s interest in reading and offer professional development for its teachers. Morgason and other Westview educators shared the enthusiastic response that Laminack’s visit received at the Oct. 18 school board meeting. Because of that success, Morgason shared that she now has arranged for Laminack to meet virtually with additional RCS teachers in November in hopes of spreading his wisdom and enthusiasm for writing and reading across the district.

Morgason said she thought she’d put a fulfilling career behind her, but she was thrilled to “have the opportunity to work with amazing students once again and to collaborate with an incredible staff.”

“Now, after another year of helping to create lifelong readers, I recognize that there is no place I’d rather be,” Morgason said after winning the award. “In fact, this has been so rewarding, I think I will return for another year. At this point in my life, that’s pretty significant.”

RCS employees say they’re grateful that Morgason serves as a mentor and lends her expertise, experience and advice to any educator or staff member who seeks it.

Westview Principal Max Smith said he relied on Morgason for honest feedback as a first-year administrator, and she gave him some of the most important feedback received.

RCS has previously recognized Morgason’s contributions. In 2000, she was named the district’s teacher of the year and was a Top 10 finalist for Indiana’s teacher of the year.

“Anytime one is chosen by their colleagues, it is special,” Morgason told WWN. “This was a complete surprise — as I was literally the new kid on the block. I certainly did not feel deserving.”

The many contributions of Morgason and Jennifer Service, Fairview Elementary School principal and RCS’ administrator of the year, have since been acknowledged during school board meetings.

State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond), who serves as chair of the Senate’s Committee on Education and Career Development, attended meetings to offer his congratulations.

Service has worked for the district more than 21 years, evolving from teacher to instructional coach to principal. She is a 1987 Richmond High School graduate.

Service inherited Fairview as it entered comprehensive school improvement status.

In collaboration with her team, administrators said Service has worked diligently these past three years to establish a positive culture at Fairview. They note her intentional focus on teacher reflection, instructional best practices and implementation of systems and structures.

From those efforts, Fairview students demonstrated the greatest academic growth corporation-wide on i-Ready Math from fall to winter.

Her team committed just a year ago to such a schoolwide systemic change, but Fairview already attracts other RCS leadership teams to visit.

Additional RCS honorees

Teachers of the year: Charles, Rebecca Amyx; Crestdale, Kara Brush; Fairview, Amanda Inderstrodt; Starr, Kathy Benner; Vaile, Amanda Ewing; Westview, Linda Morgason; Hibberd, Roya Maze; Test, Jill Roberts; Dennis, Sarah Brownell; RHS, Abby Busse

Adjunct teacher of the year: Travon Cordova, Project Lead the Way at Dennis Middle School; support person of the year, Joe Spicher, environmental services at RHS; Friend of Education, Meridian Health Services 

Rising Star teachers: Krystal Mathews (Charles), Heather Clark (Charles), Kaylyn Boyd (CYS), Taylor Arthur (Crestdale), Veronicka Rector (Crestdale), Ronnie Hibbler (Dennis), Keera Edwards (Fairview), Darrell Morken (Hibberd), Lily Vincent (Hibberd), Michelle Monnin (RHS), Tanner Puterbaugh (RHS), Renee Cooper (Starr), Whitney Rivard (Starr), Caitlin Doddridge (Test), Tyler Ludwig (Test), Kerrigan Rice (Vaile) and Chasity Manzenberger (Vaile).

Service milestones

  • 5 years: Central Office: Debbie Martin, Gregory Rexrode. Community Youth Services: Lisa Turner, Sylvester Waddell, Richard Salisbury. Crestdale Elementary: Sarah Coker, Timothy Emery, Dena Stoermer. Fairview Elementary: Kelli Doyle, Lore Farley, Jim Jeffries. Richmond High School: Devon Bowling, Frank Brattain, Abby Busse, Lesia Diego, Lori Dilworth, Michael French, Matthew Jenkins, Nathan Kendig, Michael Smith, Jason Sprague, Daniel Sullivan, Larry Wilson, Derek Worch, Alyssa Wysong. Starr Elementary: Gary Taber. Test Intermediate: Johnnie Daniels, Terra Killion, Jill Roberts, Rebecca Wysong. Vaile Elementary: Allison Pipes, Corinne Watson. Westview Elementary: Khyla Wyatt.
  • 10 years: Central Office: Jana Drew. CYS: Sandra Gulley, Andrea Himes. Crestdale: Miranda Smith, Dawn Yaden. Fairview: Terrie Mello. Hibberd Program Building: Jessica Brooks. RHS: Stephanie Bennett, Laura Brazil, Matthew Fisher, Ann Homer, Starr: Ashley Duncan. Test: Timothy Longnecker, Jessica Wilburn. Warner: Kevin Rose, Lisa Williams.
  • 15 years: Charles: Kylee Southerland. Crestdale: Sheila Nunez. Fairview: Regina Hawley. Hibberd: Aubrey Wildey. RHS: Stephanie Hoober, Tracy Jones-Ilano, Brenda Leddington. Starr: Kathy Benner. Westview: Hanna Hoogenboom.
  • 20 years: Central Office: Melissa Swafford. Charles: Denise Lewis. RHS: Mary Coe, Ronald Murphy, James Russell. Test: Brittany Stewart. Vaile: Shauna Thrasher.
  • 25 years: Charles: Eugene Crawford. Fairview: Dianna Fox. Hibberd: Todd Mann. RHS: Jeremy Hill, Celeste Johnson. Westview: Jennifer Duvall
  • 30 years: Civic Hall: Michael Rogan. Hibberd: Richard Shroyer
  • 40 years: Vaile: Vickie Elliott
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A version of this article appeared in the October 25 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.