Patricia Morgan wakes up early, gets herself ready, and arrives at Alexandria’s Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School by 6 a.m. each morning.
From there, she carries out her duties as a custodian, cleaning up and inspecting the building from top to bottom. For more than 42 years, Morgan has started her days this way within the Alexandria City Public Schools system.
At 6:30 a.m., she greets the principal, and briefs her on all the things that need maintenance attention. She wants to ensure that the school is ready for the students’ arrival.
At 7:45 a.m., the doors open, and Morgan, who is known as “Ms. Pat,” greets the children as they come inside.
Morgan, who is described as diligent, respected, kind, does this every single day.
“I love doing what I’m doing,” Morgan says, “and it’s my goal to give back to the community.”
If Samuel W. Tucker Elementary were a living, breathing thing, Morgan would be its heart.
ACPS on Thursday celebrated Morgan’s 42 years of consecutive service as part of Women’s History Month.
A different kind of work from home
Alexandria is more than where Morgan works. For her entire life, she has called this city home.
She was born and raised next to the formerly named T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School), which she attended, and later spent the first 25 years of her custodian career there.
She married in Alexandria, and started her family there. Now, more than four decades later, she remains at home, using every day on the job as an opportunity to give back.
“Ms. Morgan, I believe, feels that her life’s mission is to support and give to our students,” says Adaarema Kelly, Samuel W. Tucker Elementary’s Principal.
Spreading boundless love
Kelly knows this from firsthand experience. She first met Morgan when her children were students at Samuel W. Tucker Elementary.
At the time, Kelly’s husband was an active-duty Marine. Morgan knew this, and did her best to offer support.
“She took care of my own children as if they were hers,” Kelly says. “Knowing that my husband was deployed, she gave them that extra love.”
This is what “Ms. Pat” does for her students. They’re her favorite part of her job, and she bonds with them in a way that creates lifelong ties throughout Alexandria’s community.
“I like to see how the kids grow up, and who they become,” Morgan says.
One former T.C. Williams High School student Morgan remembers is Alexandria’s Deputy Mayor Amy Jackson. Another is Alexandria District Attorney Brian Porter. Through her career, Morgan gets to see where life takes people.
“I support them to get there, and they’re also supporting me,” Morgan says.
Today, Morgan has three grandchildren, but Kelly says, “she is the extended grandma to so, so many students.”
Students go to Morgan for help. Whether they can’t open a milk carton or simply need someone to talk to, she’s there when they need her.
On weekends, she fills food-insecure students’ backpacks with snacks, sometimes out of her own pocket.
“Like I said,she is the heart and soul of Samuel Tucker” Kelly says.
An ever-growing legacy
Morgan plans on working for ACPS for at least three more years. When she hits 45 years, she says she’ll consider retirement, though her heart isn’t set on leaving then, either.
“If I’m able to keep going, I will keep going,” she says.
Morgan is continuously creating a vast legacy – one that lives in the hearts of 42 years’ worth of students. She loves Alexandria so deeply that she chooses to spend her life serving her community.
“She just helped me understand that this building is more than a building,” says Kelly. “It’s a building of love, and where students come to be nurtured, and we meet the whole child here. And she does it every single day.”
When the last bell rings, Morgan assumes yet another regular position. After a full day of cleaning, supporting students, and any other task she might pick up along the way, she stands ready to say goodbye to the children as they dismiss.
She will watch these children grow, just as she’s done with the ones that came before them, and just as she will with the ones that come next. Down the line, she’ll continue to keep up with them, watching from a distance as life takes them every which way.
For now, she’ll keep doing what she’s doing and stand by to welcome them back to school the next morning.
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