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Patricia “Ms. Pat” Morgan Celebrated as “Heart of Samuel W. Tucker Elementary” and for 42 Years of Custodial Service in Alexandria Schools

“Ms. Pat makes sure that every treated equitably. She makes sure that they eat. She makes sure that they get to class on time."

Black female custodian stands next to children's artwork on a bulletin board.
Ms. Pat has been doing more than scrubbing hallways for 42 years in Alexandria. She’s been loving the kids she sees everyday. (Photo: Les Machado)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The year was 1981. Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson was only two years old. Raiders of the Lost Ark was released that June, and ended the year as the top grossing movie. Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” topped the charts for six weeks. And drivers were aghast that the average price of gasoline had spiked to $1.35 a gallon (up from $1.22 a gallon in 1980).

That year, Patricia Morgan, now fondly known by all as “Ms. Pat,” began working for the Alexandria City Public Schools. This year marked her 42nd consecutive year of service, a milestone that ACPS celebrated on Thursday as part of Women’s History Month, which highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

“Ms. Pat is the heart of Samuel Tucker Elementary,” said Adaarema Kelly, principal of Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School. “Because she was raised in Alexandria, she understands the impact of Samuel Tucker, the civil rights leader, and his family. She is an icon. Not just inside our halls, or ACHS, but throughout the City of Alexandria.”

Ms. Pat began her ACPS tenure at T.C. Williams High School, now Alexandria City High School, where she fondly remembered Mayor Justin Wilson, Vice-Mayor Amy Jackson, and Bryan Porter, the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Alexandria as students. She then worked at William Ramsay Elementary School before moving to Samuel Tucker, where she has worked for the past 13 years.

“The elementary school kids are so sweet and kind,” said Ms. Pat. “They’re energetic, and remind me of my own grandkids. They give me a good spirit and make me happy, because they’re happy. They bring a lot of joy.”

Principal Kelly said that the love between Ms. Pat and the students is reciprocal. “Ms. Pat makes sure that every child who walks through the halls of Samuel Tucker is treated equitably. She makes sure that they eat. She makes sure that they get to class on time. She builds relationships with students. They will go to her before they will go to anybody else.”

Middle-aged black lady and white woman stand in front of chalkboard.
Ms. Pat “is an icon. Not just inside our halls, or ACHS, but throughout the City of Alexandria,” says Samuel W. Tucker Elementary school Principal Adaarema Kelly. (Photo: Les Machado)

Ms. Pat was recognized for more than 42 years of providing a clean and safe space for children to attend school. She starts her day around 6 a.m. and spends the next several hours cleaning and scrubbing classrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and floors, to make sure everything is clean and ready for the students and staff. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms. Pat was at the school on a daily basis as one of ACPS’s many essential workers.

Principal Kelly recalled that her first meeting with Ms. Pat was as a parent, when her children attended the school years ago. “We went through a hard time because my husband did two combat deployments while my kids were here. Ms. Pat took my kids under her wing like they were her own. She was that extra helping hand, especially during that turbulent time.” Kelly said that Ms. Pat’s support continues to this day: “When I came on board as the first principal of color here at Samuel Tucker, she gave me the confidence to walk into the principalship.”

For her part, Ms. Pat said that she has particularly enjoyed reconnecting with students over the years. “I’ve watched kids come through the school, graduate high school, and then, years later, seen them out in the world, as teachers, counselors, and helping others. Some of them are running the City!”

The longtime ACPS worker said that she doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. “I enjoy what I’m doing. The kids love me, and I love them too.”

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