The Morton family: (left to right) Brandon, Karen, Alan, and Brian
Passionate and supported educators can inspire younger generations to become educators themselves. For Karen and Alan Morton, their education careers would lead their son to find his own passion as an educator and FEA leader.
Karen and Alan first met in 1992 while in Law Enforcement Officer training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Dedicated to public service, both already had several years of work in the sector: Alan had served in the Marine Corps and worked as a counselor, while Karen had worked as a group home counselor, victims advocate, and school social worker. The couple soon married and had two sons, Brian and Brandon.
Raised in a military family, Karen wanted to see the world and saw becoming a DoDEA educator as a perfect way to do so. As a former Marine, Alan was also familiar with international travel and felt that raising their two boys abroad would expose them to other cultures. Karen then encouraged Alan, who had a master’s degree in Education, to become a DoD educator.
In 2000, Alan would do just that, joining DoDEA in as a Sure Start teacher at Yokota West Elementary School in Japan. After obtaining her master’s degree in Education in 2003, Karen joined him as a 1st grade teacher at the same school while their sons entered the local DoDEA school system. The parents transferred schools a couple times in the DoDEA system, first in 2007 to Seoul American, then in 2010 to Humphreys American School in Korea. Their sons would accompany them and attend DoDEA schools within the same system where their parents worked. “Having our children with us as DODDS students was a dream come true since we are a very close-knit family that believes in the power of a quality education,” Alan reflected.
Karen and Alan’s passion for educating and serving others soon inspired Brian:
“I witnessed my parents serve students and our communities through education for my entire life. My parents taught me to have empathy for others and to find a life path that will help people grow. In high school, I realized that I wanted to be an educator and help diverse students grow and reach their full potential. Military-connected children need someone with whom they can relate. I decided to be like the teachers I needed and had growing up.”
After graduating high school, Brian would go on to earn his bachelor’s degree in education and become an educator. In 2018, he joined his parents at Humphreys West Elementary School (HEWS), where the parents and son taught together until 2020. In 2021, he transferred to Van Voorhis Elementary School in Fort Knox, Kentucky for a fourth-grade teacher position. His teaching style is heavily influenced by his past as a student in the DoDEA system:
“I really connect with the students because, as a former DoDEA student, I can empathize with their situations. I work tirelessly to make education fun, applicable to the real world, and push my students toward taking ownership of their learning. I look at each student as a family member and take their growth seriously.”
Karen, Alan, and Brian have also all been members and served in leadership roles with FEA. At one point, all three were elected to serve as FRs or FRSs at HWES at the same time. Karen and Alan see their past or present FEA roles as “advocates for humanity and educators’ rights”. Karen also served as an FEA delegate to the 2022 NEA RA in Chicago, helping represent the members of her school in Korea. For Brian, joining FEA was partly inspired by his lack of support while teaching in a different school system prior to DoDEA. “I always felt as though no one advocated for my peers and myself,” he reflected. However, upon teaching with DoDEA, he witnessed how a strong FEA allowed educators to fight for their own respect, their colleagues, and their students:
“I could go to my FRS for help with issues I had and felt supported. I quickly decided to serve as an FR to show my appreciation. Being a member of the FEA means that I am a part of a family of like-minded individuals that work together to serve and support children while advocating for the rights of educators. Teaching children is my passion and I take the calling seriously. The support and advocacy of FEA have helped me pursue this calling.”
Today, Karen continues her work as a Reading Specialist at HWES and just completed her 2nd year as the HWES FRS. Alan retired in 2020 and lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Brandon is currently a Graduate Assistant working on his Master’s Degree at Jackson State University. Brian continues to teach at Van Voorhis ES and is close to completing his Doctorate in Educational Leadership with Liberty University.
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