Starting each day with a smile

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

The first face students see after arriving at Ronceverte Elementary School each day is that of Jennifer Morgan. No matter the weather, the school secretary stands outside the door at the dropoff line. Bearing a bright and authentic smile, Morgan welcomes every single student by name, asks them about their favorite things, and ushers them to their classrooms. 

“When all the COVID restrictions started, there were a lot of parents and kids that I knew that were starting school that year and were very apprehensive,” Morgan replied when asked why she does it each day. “I thought, if it’s going to ease their minds, I’ll just be out there for dropoff. And then I really enjoyed it!” 

For 22 years, Morgan has answered the phones, greeted visitors, managed the hot lunch program, paid bills, and ordered supplies for the school. In addition to these official duties, she also chooses to come early and greet students as they arrive and stay late to ensure pickup goes smoothly. Morgan added that she hopes it helps the kids feel welcome, but it also helps her and the staff do their job better. 

“We have a great staff at Ronceverte Elementary,” noted Morgan. “Being able to see their faces when they come in in the morning, it kind of gives you an insight into what kind of shape the kids are in when they get out of the car in the morning. If I feel like somebody needs a little attention, I can alert the counselor.” 

According to Morgan, this has led to better relationships with the kids over time, explaining, “I want them to know they can come to the office and get help with whatever they need.” 

Judging by the smiles on the faces of children she greets each day, the message is well-received. It seems the children know that they can always go to the office for help. 

A Christmas card made for Jennifer by a student, showing her welcoming him to school each day.

Morgan added that, while some people have asked her about retirement, she hopes to continue for many years to come, noting, “I feel blessed to have a job and a job that I love. I have no intention of retiring anytime soon, because I love my job!” 

When asked her favorite part of the job, Morgan quickly responded: “The kids. That’s the main reason I love my job is the kids here. You can learn a lot from them!”

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