Board Member: Claire Morgan
By Michael Coiner
Claire’s love for nurturing younger children developed early in life. As the oldest of eight, she helped her parents care for her younger siblings until she left for college. After graduating from Marylhurst University in December of her senior year with an education degree and no prospects of a mid-year teaching job, Claire was hired to work as a sales trainer for Nordstrom. After nine months, she accepted a teaching job in Sherwood and launched into her dream career as a classroom teacher.
Claire deeply appreciated the opportunity to teach. She found it exciting to watch her students learn and develop right in front of her eyes. As she puts it, “I was surprised to get a paycheck for doing what I loved!” Parents would thank her for teaching their children, but Claire was fairly certain it was just a matter of giving them the right materials and right setting to soar beyond what they thought was possible.
As a holistic educator, Claire realized that children needed support even after the final bell rang. Her school in Sherwood didn’t have an after school program and she suspected some of her second grade kids went home to an empty house. One of her students who was struggling with behavior, mentioned that he was lonely at home after school. Claire made him a deal. If he had a good day in class, she would call him when he got home and chat on the phone. This helped him improve his engagement in her class and, eventually, his performance too. This experience taught Claire how intense the need was for after school support.
While volunteering with Washington County Kids (WCK), Claire sat in on a Parent Conversation sponsored by WCK.The neighborhood was considered “middle income” and thus, not what most would associate with needing after school program services. Yet, one of the parents mentioned arriving at 4 A.M. to make sure her children made the list for an after school program. The need is clearly there. Claire believes that after school programs can provide an opportunity for children to experience new and exciting activities. Chess, checkers, science and art projects, relating to others, and so many other things are all new to children. Teaching them about these things greatly aids in their development and understanding of the world around them. Parents aren’t always in a position to provide this for their children, and after school programs fill that critical need.
As far as future growth is concerned, Claire believes that the County has excellent programs already but needs more programs for more kids. Programs need steady funding so they don’t have to agonize about budgets from year to year. In order for programs to be a stable source of support for children and their parents, they need a stable source of support to keep the doors open and serve more kids. With those needs met, the possibilities are endless!