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Jill Burrows Cambridge, MA

She had the most important job in the world

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My Mom, Virginia Moss Morgan, was a dedicated and inspiring teacher who was convinced she had the most important job in the world. In her classroom, there was no excuse to not strive towards excellence, whether you were academically talented, or academically reluctant.

I have vivid memories of her, with my sister Carol and I in tow, driving in a cloud of dust down dirt roads in Durham County to the homes of sharecroppers to try and persuade the parents on that Saturday to have their children (who were deemed indispensable to work alongside their parents in the tobacco fields) in school on Monday.

Over the years, there were countless students she came to love. Often it was the kid who caused trouble that she seemed to love the most.

She was only 5 ft. 2, and some of her students, who had been held back a year or two, towered above her, but she commanded their respect and admiration. Once, when she produced the Hansel and Gretel Operetta at her school, some of these reluctant students–who had never been much involved in school activities–were included in the play.

I’ve sometimes wondered if it somehow changed their lives, knowing that someone had been motivated to, at least once, cast them as angels.