New director aims to help people with their dreams
The district’s new director of special services is a self-described "dramatic" world traveler who says all children have special needs.
Andrew Morgan said he wants children to become the author of their own learning by use of discovery.
Mr. Morgan, hired last month, officially began work Aug. 14.
He will work primarily with staff to help students with disabilities or challenges of various kinds and also to serve as district attendance officer.
Special education has "taken on a different format for the past few years," Mr. Morgan said.
Public school education comes in several formats, Mr. Morgan said: general education, helping students with "resource rooms" where they leave the regular classroom for certain subjects; in a self-contained classrooms, where students are segregated to help them with their disabilities; and out-of-district placement.
Mr. Morgan said he sees himself as a leader or facilitator, "someone to help people with their dreams."
He said he wants parents in Manville to know, "Here in this office, they have someone who is a friend to them."
He said as an educator he works to help children change their behavior rather than "the individual."
As an example, he said a good response to a student who calls out an answer would be: "We all want to be recognized. Let’s all raise our hand."
He also said the special-education staff, including a school psychologist, a learning consultant and a social worker, should spend more time on "real, real child-care issues" and less time on clerical work.
Mr. Morgan said his goal is to have children love to learn.
"If you really want children to learn something, you don’t write it on the board," he said.
Mr. Morgan worked from 1969-92 as a special education teacher and staff developer for the New York City public schools.
After leaving the New York school system in 1992, Mr. Morgan worked as a psychotherapist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Mount Sinai Medical Center. He also worked as a special-education teacher and staff developer in Newark, and as director of special services and assistant principal in Union Township, Hunterdon County.
He once went to Paris, and then traveled overland to Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. After four and a half months, he arrived in India, where he stayed for another six months.
He also worked briefly at U.S. embassies in Thailand and Japan.
"We’re all the same and we’re all different," Mr. Morgan said of education styles. "We have one of the better education systems in the world. In some of the poorer Third World countries, you have to pay to be educated."
Before he took the job in Manville, Mr. Morgan drove around the borough and saw "a cross-section of every kind of person."
"I found the people here to be very real, down-to-earth and real," Mr. Morgan said. "That was something that attracted me a lot."
Mr. Morgan and his wife, Lorraine, live in Staten Island, N.Y., and plan to move to the Edison area now that both of them are working in New Jersey. She is the new vice principal of Perth Amboy High School.
They’ve been married about five years, and expect soon to adopt a 3-month-old girl from Guatemala.
"Her name is going to be Jacqueline," Mr. Morgan said. "We want to keep the Latin culture going."
Jacqueline will be the first child for both of them.
Mr. Morgan has a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University, and two master’s degrees, both from City University of New York, one in education of children with emotional and learning disabilities, and the other in administration and supervision.
Mr. Morgan replaces Teresa Burik, who resigned effective June 30.