A teacher affects eternity. You can never tell where their influence ends.
~~ Epictetus ~~
I’ve reflected here on a few occasions my school days as a self-appointed class clown. A couple of other companions were as equally gifted in our quest for attention. Their stories have been shared here as well. It wasn’t until many years later I came to realize, the attention I sought was a misguided attempt to make up for other things lacking in my life.
I’m not proud to admit, in my pursuit to be noticed, I was especially brutal to my Jr. high school music teacher, “Miss Morgan.” In hindsight I deeply regret how I mistreated and disrespected her … all to get a cheap laugh from classmates, who did provide a few. The woman was a Saint and despite all I dished out she showed me uncompromised patience and encouragement. I didn’t realize it at the time… she really cared, but few kids notice those things.
With time my behavior in school actually improved. I began to understand there were better ways to find the recognition I wanted. I started to take my studies a little more seriously. For some reason, if only for a brief moment, I found myself suddenly on a roll… My grades had never been so good. I made the school’s Honor Roll.
It was during that semester, when Miss Morgan gave me an “A”. She’s the only teacher, before college, I ever received that high a grade from. I had a few Bs and B-pluses that earned me that Honor Roll status, but only once did I get an “A”. Not sure I earned or deserved it, but I got it… and Miss Morgan gave it to me.
I wish I had told her then… but many years later I came to the decision, I wanted to try to locate and apologize to her for my inexcusable behavior. That likely would have been a wonderful, memorable conversation but, as often is the case in such matters, it wasn’t meant to be. In July of last year, in an effort to learn more about her, I discovered her 2005 obituary. Miss Morgan died 13-years ago today.
How surprised I was to read about her life and her numerous accomplishments. I shared it among my school friends on Facebook and the reaction was much the same. In addition there were many positive comments about this remarkable woman. A few of us shared our regrets, youth wasted on the wrong people. Regret is an awful word.
She was a well-educated, gifted and dedicated musician. One who shared her talents, as you’ll see. Of all the many teachers I had in those days, she is truly the only one I remember well. All the others are literally… just a blur. Despite all the years and distance, I’ve never forgotten Miss Morgan, and throughout my life have often been reminded of her. She made a difference and because of that, her story deserves a place in this blog. To that end, I share it here, with a grateful heart for having known her. God bless Miss Morgan.
NOTE: Comments from her students and others who knew her would be appreciated. Please add yours below.
Margaret A. Morgan Dawson
Music Teacher, Organist
Margaret A. Morgan Dawson, 88, a retired professional musician and educator, died March 3 at Suburban Hospital of pneumonia and acute myocardial infarction. She was a 60-year resident of Capitol Heights and had lived recently at Kensington Park Retirement Center.
Mrs. Dawson taught at Washington Musical Institute for 48 years, retiring in 1997 as the institute’s last director. She also taught at Hyattsville Junior High School for nearly 18 years, retiring in 1977, at Prince George’s Community College and with the Home Music Teachers Association. She also was a private teacher for about 10 years.
For 25 years, Mrs. Dawson played the organ and directed choirs at several churches throughout the Washington area. She also performed as a recitalist and soloist at numerous musical events, including the annual Pageant of Peace on the Mall.
Mrs. Dawson was born in Weston, W.Va., and was a direct descendant of Col. Morgan Morgan, a Welsh immigrant and early pioneer in West Virginia in the 1700s. She moved to Washington as a child and graduated from Central High School, where she took organ lessons. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Wilson Teachers College, a bachelor’s degree in music from Washington Musical Institute and a master’s degree in music from Catholic University in 1969.
In 1956, she won a national scholarship award for graduate study in organ and church music. She studied at the Royal School of Church Music in England, American University, and the University of Maryland and privately at the National Cathedral.
She was a member of the D.C. Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Washington Music Teachers Association, Sigma Sigma Sigma education sorority and Mu Phi Epsilon, a music fraternity for men and women.
Her husband, Robert M. Dawson, died in 1975. Survivors include four children, Peter “Zeke” Dawson of Dickson, Tenn., Priscilla Kingston of Charlottesville, Prudence Dawson of Kensington and Philip Dawson of Upper Marlboro; a brother, Wendell Morgan of Rockville; a sister, Carolyn Crabtree of Novato, Calif.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
~~ Washington Post
©2005, The Washington Post Company