David Morse ’08 thoroughly enjoys working with teenagers, so it’s not surprising to find him directing the St. John Valley Technical School in Frenchville, Maine, located just across the river from neighboring New Brunswick. Since 2005, he has been the principal of the school, one of 27 career and technical education schools for high school juniors and seniors in the state.
“I was excited to come here for two reasons: the programs are hands-on, and what we are teaching leads to specific careers in such fields as health care, early childhood, computer technology, and welding,” explains Morse, who previously worked with teens in group homes for six years. “Our 140 students are here
because they want to be. This kind of school helps prevent dropouts.”
Becoming director required a master’s degree, and Morse decided to earn a master’s in education from Saint Joseph’s College. Combining on-campus summer classes at Saint Joseph’s and online coursework, it took him just two years to finish his degree with a concentration in educational administration.
He admits some initial uncertainty about taking online courses. “I thought I wouldn’t get the same content as in a classroom, but I was wrong,” says Morse. “My experiences in the classroom were excellent, too. There were never unnecessary textbooks to read, never papers that were a waste of time. Everything was pertinent, everything applied, and everything challenged me to think outside of what I knew. The college definitely prepared me to be successful.”
Since earning his master’s, Morse has introduced ways for teachers to focus more on improving students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
“Truly changing lives is the most rewarding part of the job,” he said. “Seeing students succeed makes my day.”