MOOSEHEART – It seems fitting that the Morgans all work at Mooseheart Child City and School under the title of family teachers.
For nine years, Colleen and Mark Morgan have been in that role, which requires them to live in a home on campus and care for 10 children. Three years ago, their son and daughter-in-law, Phillip and Kayla Morgan, both started working as family teachers on the same campus.
Mark and Colleen Morgan said they started their careers at Mooseheart after the youngest of their three children graduated from high school. Phillip and Kayla Morgan, on the other hand, are raising their growing family on campus, with their daughter, Charli, 3, and a baby is due next month.
Despite following in his parents’ footsteps, Phillip Morgan said it was his growing family that inspired him to pursue his career path.
“It had more to do with coming to the realization of the importance of family,” he said. “We were wanting to spend time with our only daughter. Not only was it an opportunity to raise her among many other youth, but to move closer to family.”
“[Charli is] with us 24/7, except when she goes to preschool off campus,” Kayla Phillips said.
Mark and Colleen Morgan live five houses down from their son and daughter-in-law, working in a boys’ home. Phillip and Kayla Morgan work in a girls’ home.
“You’d be surprised how little we see each other,” Colleen Morgan said. “We try to get together once a week.”
Mark and Colleen Morgan said they didn’t have a background in teaching. They spent years helping to run a Christian camp that served more than 10,000 children a year. They said Mooseheart’s extensive training program paired with the school’s model of care drew them to the occupation they’ve held for nearly a decade.
“Everyone that comes here has a different reason for them coming that’s very different from a mainstream childhood,” Colleen said.
Phillip Morgan said as family teachers, their primary responsibility is to teach social, academic and independent living skills to the students under their charge.
Kayla Morgan said the schedule in every home is structured differently.
In the Indiana Home, where she and Phillip Morgan are helping raise 10 middle and high school girls, everyone gets up around 6 a.m. for school. They try to all eat breakfast together.
“You’re providing a family atmosphere that’s caring and nurturing for young ladies who might not come from that,” Kayla Morgan said.
After school, Phillip and Kayla spend a little time with each of the girls, talking about their school day, discussing areas where they may have improved and areas they may need to work on. Then they have a snack, followed by study time and dinner as a group.
Their home looks just like any other home – photos of the girls adorn the walls, a sectional couch surrounds a flat-screen TV in the living room and a chore chart hangs next to the dining room table.
Mark Morgan said each student has a care plan that family teachers help them work through.
The care plan is constructed for each individual student’s needs to help them learn skills such as helping others, staying on task at school or learning to deal with frustration.
“Each student is learning from the way you respond to them,” Mark Morgan said. “It makes you a better person.”
Siannie Segbee, 12, is a student under Phillip and Kayla Morgan’s care at the Indiana Home. She said her family teachers are there to help her, and they often go places and do activities together.
“If I had to describe them, I would say they’re nice people,” she said. “They care for me and they try to make sure all my needs are met.”