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Polishing Student Teachers ‘Til They Shine

College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Mary Ellen Morgan

The Keuka College Adjunct Professor of the Year makes no bones about her strict supervising style. If a student teacher appears to be slacking off and she knows they can do better, Mary Ellen Morgan won’t let up for a minute.

Indeed, when the Penn Yan resident was called to the stage Dec. 11 during Keuka’s mid-year conferral of degrees, a portion of her introduction included comments from a student whose respect Morgan had earned.

“I absolutely hated Mrs. Morgan … Even as I say this, I love her and everything was for my own good. I grew so much with her help and I always knew where I stood. Her criticisms never stopped, but that was a great thing,” the student wrote.

Morgan said she smiled hearing it, because she knew exactly who wrote it, and knew he was capable of more.

“I know that I am hard on the kids,” she said, using her favorite word for the student teachers under her care, “especially the first couple weeks. I wanted him to achieve and I stayed right on him. [Student teaching] is such a short time frame, I want them to get the best of it, so I come down on them because I want to make sure they get their feet in the doors.”

Since 2001, the Penn Yan resident has been supervising student teachers in Keuka’s education division, meeting weekly with them and their mentor teachers on location at schools across Western New York. Student teachers may work in districts from Waterloo to Watkins Glen to Wayland, perhaps as far as 60 miles from the Keuka Park campus. Morgan first “filled” a spot in the supervisor ranks by a friend who moved to Germany and has been involved ever since. Morgan’s daughter graduated from Keuka in 1988, and Morgan’s family moved to the Keuka Lake area full time in 1996. She has also worked with the College Rotoract Club, affiliated with the Rotary Club of America, and took a group of students to Gettysburg last year for a Rotary conference.

Morgan brings a total of 32 years at Elmira City Schools to her work, having taught seven years at the elementary level and 26 years in secondary level classrooms. During many of those years, Morgan served as a sponsor teacher for a semester for young college seniors completing their student teaching rotations. That’s an edge she believes she brings to her supervisory role.
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