Friday, November 16 , 2018, 4:06 am | Fair 47º


El Montecito School San Roque to Honor Jeannine Morgan

Devoted leader has seen school through some 40 years of growth and development.

The name Jeannine Morgan is almost synonymous with El Montecito School San Roque.
The name Jeannine Morgan is almost synonymous with El Montecito School San Roque. (El Montecito School San Roque)

Ask students about what they love about El Montecito School San Roque, and undoubtedly “Mrs. Morgan!” is almost first on their lips.

Jeannine Morgan, the spirited and spunky longtime leader, has been the face of the dynamic preschool through sixth grade school for nearly 40 years.

Last spring, Morgan announced her upcoming retirement. And so, the school community will be celebrating her contributions in a variety of events, culminating with the Forever ELMO spring benefit, scheduled for Saturday, March 4, 2017.  

ELMO, as the school is fondly called, began as a preschool at the El Montecito Presbyterian Church in 1958. Morgan joined ELMO in 1979 as director and by 1982 the desire for a kindergarten program was realized.

As the parent body yearned for an elementary program to allow their students to further develop upon the solid foundation established in the preschool years, the school added more classes. Morgan led the school in a 10-year expansion, resulting in the preschool-through-sixth-grade school that flourishes today.

“Preschool through sixth grade is just right for ELMO,” Morgan said. “We can focus on developmentally appropriate education and a strong Christian and academic foundation from preschool onwards. We can prepare our students well to graduate or transfer to any school and be lights in our community.”

The growth of the school necessitated a series of campus relocations. Ever the intrepid visionary, Morgan led ELMO through a variety of locations. Once the school outgrew the space in Montecito, the upper elementary program moved to Summerland and then to downtown Santa Barbara.

ELMO became an independent nonprofit and eventually moved all classes downtown. “Each move involved our students, parents, faculty and board faithfully trusting that those changes were leading us to a permanent home,” Morgan said.

In the summer of 2011, Morgan rejoiced with the ELMO community in the move to the beautiful, historic San Roque campus on the property of the San Roque Catholic Church, at the corner of Calle Pinõn and San Roque Road.

Reflecting, she said, “We felt such a blessing from the first time we stepped onto this campus. We get to see our whole student body gathered in the central courtyard and enjoy the beautiful campus. It makes us feel that we are home.”

Morgan has spent much of her life intricately involved with ELMO and her heart will always be devoted to the success of the school and its students.

“With the acquisition of the San Roque campus as a long-term home, along with our strong faculty and core values, I’m confident that ELMO is ready for the next step,” she said.

Although she withdraws from her leadership role, Morgan will continue to be available to invest in the school as it moves forward with new initiatives into a full and vibrant future.

The board invited Tim Loomer to assist in the transition process as the interim head of school and will begin an extensive, nationwide search in 2017.

Loomer said, “Jeannine has been the heart of ELMO for many years. She leaves the school in a superb spot: academically strong, focused on Christian values, and equipped with a wonderfully warm, highly qualified, and fully engaged faculty and staff."

The Forever ELMO spring event will celebrate Morgan’s faithful leadership, which has contributed to the school's vitality and success of hundreds of graduates. Past parents and students are invited to attend. For more information, contact [email protected] or call 962-3091.

— Julia Davis for El Montecito School San Roque.


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