love of books
has been a
Pat Morgan ’ 62 leans back
in a rocking chair, bifocals low
on his nose and a picture book
titled Farmer Duck in his hands.
Thirty kindergarteners at Cove
Creek Elementary School sit at
his feet, some excited and squirrelly, others hunched forward
and focused as if their favorite
TV show is about to begin.
But this highly anticipated
entertainment is live and not
Morgan,” as he’s known by
thousands of students by now,
cracks open the book and begins
to read, just as he has to classes
every week for the past 34 years.
“I don’t change voices that
much,” Morgan says of his reading style. And yet he does “get
lost in the story,” just as he
coaches the kids to do. Morgan
coughs when the characters
cough, bellows when they bellow and furrows his brow when
the plot takes a frustrating twist
for the protagonist.
As the book nears an end,
Morgan’s voice grows louder,
more resolute, and ears perk up
for the finale. He raises a finger as if to say “now take note,”
and their chins lift expectantly.
PHOTOS BY HANNAH TAYLOR ’ 11
The joy of reading
Morgan is somewhat of an institution in his hometown
of Zionville, near Boone in Watauga County. In fact, at
Mabel Elementary School, Morgan has outlasted every
teacher, secretary and principal who has worked there.
Morgan now reads for kindergarteners and first- and sec-ond-graders at three elementary schools once a week and
says he’ll keep coming back until he is no longer able.
“I’ve had a parent tell me her daughter will wake up and
say, ‘Oh, I am so glad it’s Friday. Mr. Morgan comes to read
Pat Morgan ’ 62 reads to
students at three Watauga
County elementary schools
each week. “I think the joy
of reading has evolved with
me. I wasn’t read to as a
kid, and a lot of the joy of
reading has come from
reading to others.”
today.’And to see how
important reading has
become to some of these
kids, especially rural children
— well, it’s a good thing.”
Morgan, who after get-
ting his business degree from
UNC went on to earn a law
degree from the University
of Mississippi, says the corre-
lation between early reading
and academic success is
“Those early years are so
important,” Morgan says.
“[Reading] is a tool that will
be with you the rest of your
life. No one will have to
entertain you. And there’s so
much joy to come of it. My
daughter was a big reader. I loved to be driving down the
road and she’d be in the back seat reading and just burst out
laughing. I just thought that was great.”
Pat’s wife, Mary Sue Morgan ’ 62, also earned a master’s
in library science from UNC in 1965 and was the first pro-
fessional librarian in Watauga County. She says that people
still remember the books her husband read to them as
kids.“When we go down to the barbecues at Cove Creek or
to a ball game, former students come up and say, ‘Mr.
Morgan! Mr. Morgan!” and just can’t believe they’ve run
into him,” she says.
Pat Morgan has spent decades volunteering. While he was
a lecturer of political science at Appalachian State University,