Ms. Morgan, who has been here since 1974, sat down with colleague, Ms. Loose-Brown to talk about teaching, creative pursuits and her family. She also showed off some moles that you have to see to believe.
Watch the video of that conversation here:
She also had some things to say about moles - watch here:
Read what she had to say about her time at Berkshire and beyond here:
I came to Berkshire with my husband Chris Coenen in the summer of 1974 after completing an MAT program at the University of New Hampshire in Elementary Education. I had graduated from Tufts in 1972 with a degree in Biology and toyed around with a few jobs before deciding to become a teacher. I had planned to teach 3rd or 4th grade, but when I came to Berkshire I got involved with the students here and really liked working with high school-aged students. In my first year, I helped Bob Brigham set up all of his chemistry labs and also worked with him on Project Lifeline, an early version of the Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program. The following year I started teaching Photography which I did for a number of years. When Bob became the Dean of Faculty, he asked me to take over a couple of his chemistry sections which is really how I became a chemistry teacher. Now, I teach all levels, from the regular sections to AP.
I enjoy teaching chemistry because it is one of those subjects that many students find challenging, and I get great satisfaction from helping them succeed at something they thought they couldn’t do. I love telling stories as part of my teaching and making up analogies to help students understand the very abstract concepts of chemistry that they can’t really see or feel. Sometimes the analogies get pretty silly, but alumni come back years later and still remember them.
I understand that few of my students will go on to careers in chemistry. Many of my most memorable students have become artists, actors, poets and history buffs. Learning anything enriches a person’s life and expands their horizons. We need artists and poets with backgrounds in science so that they can understand the many environmental challenges we face now and will continue to face in the future.
When Chris and I first arrived at Berkshire to visit we drove down from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire where Chris had been teaching biology. It was in late April, and the contrast between the gray landscape of NH and the beautiful campus at Berkshire with all the flowers blooming could not have been more dramatic. We were impressed by the beauty of the Berkshires and the friendliness of the people here, and we were thrilled to be able to be part of the community a few months later.
Over the years, I have had a number of roles at Berkshire: teaching Photography and Chemistry, coaching Track and Cross Country and running the bookstore, among other things. We were dorm parents in Godman for ten years before moving to the Field House for another 12 years. We now live about 9 miles north of campus in a house that my husband and I built ourselves over the course of several summers. Chris taught at Berkshire for many years, leaving in 2006 to become head of the science department at Franklin Academy in Haddam, CT. Chris and I also adopted three children from Korea. Peter arrived in 1988, graduated from Berkshire in 2004 and is now an Executive Chef in a restaurant in Chicago. Caroline arrived in time for Mountain day in 1989 and recently graduated from Mitchell College in New London, CT. James was born in 1991 but didn’t become part of our family until February of 1993. He graduated from Berkshire in 2010 and now has one semester left at the University of New Hampshire, where he is studying environmental conservation.
I grew up in a large family with three sisters and two brothers, so being around lots of people is something I am pretty comfortable with. My dad is a descendent of missionaries to Hawaii and grew up in Honolulu. He was an eyewitness to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a 16 year old high school student. I still have quite a large family out in Hawaii, and would love to have a chance to visit them.
My students may be surprised to learn that I have run two marathons in my life (my record is 3:44:45), and I have hiked from Sheffield to the border of Canada and Vermont by following the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail. Most people know that I am an avid Red Sox fan, which has been much easier in the last 10 years than it was previously (with the exception of the 2012 season). I also love to do crossword puzzles, read murder mysteries and knit, though not at the same time.
I have now been at Berkshire long enough to have the title of Senior Master, following in the large footsteps of Twiggs Myers, Ed Hunt and Al Bredenfoerder. This job, although it has few tangible benefits, is an honor for me to hold. I feel a responsibility to remind students and faculty about the many rich traditions we have at Berkshire and to help us move forward without changing the character of the place.
I’m happy to report that we are still the friendly and welcoming community that I experienced when I first visited in 1974.