Morgan Atkins
Middle School Counselor

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Morgan grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont in elementary education, human development, and family studies. She taught Kindergarten at Shore Country Day School in Beverly, Massachusetts for three years, then studied at Harvard Graduate School of Education for a masters degree with a certificate of graduate study in guidance counseling. Morgan worked in Boston public schools for seven years as Coordinator of School Culture and Climate. (Of her title in that job, she adds: “My dad joked that I controlled the thermostat in the buildings.”) She bravely moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in the midst of the pandemic in August 2020 to begin her new role at our school.

Morgan Atkins, Middle School Counselor, greets students at Middle School door

How did you wind up in Colorado?

After graduate school, I did a cross country road trip with Amanda Palffy (now a Third Grade teacher at ACDS). We stopped a lot of places, and Aspen was our final destination. This was seven years ago, and I have tried to come back every year since. I felt recharged and motivated here. I also realized it’s a place where I am always challenging myself, trying new things and adventures. So when the opportunity came up to live here and make it home, it was almost too good to be true. 

Dream dinner party?

My sister, because she’s my best friend and an amazing cook, so she could make the dinner. Then my grandmother Lillian, who was a big role model in my life; I think about her every day. And Princess Diana. I always looked up to her and admired the work she did to help other people.

Favorite place on campus?

I like being in the middle school hallway, greeting students when they come in the morning and as they leave at the end of the day, or during transitions between classes. It’s important to me that my role is one that’s visible, a resource and supportive to all students.

A teacher who had an influence on your life?

An advisor: John Glessner at The Pingree School, my high school. He was one of those guys who had a tough exterior and strong voice, and in the hallway he was intimidating to some, but once you got to know him, he always had your back. In reflecting now, I think he saw more in me than I even did at the time. He suggested I work at at summer program that helps inner city students apply to secondary schools outside their district. Looking back, I think, “Wow, he had that insight to know that would get into a helping profession.”

Most interesting job before this?

I worked on a whale-watching boat out of Boston. 

A challenge in the world and how this school helps address it?

Something I’ve noticed, and it has been highlighted by the pandemic, is the lack of empathy that we have for one another. I heard recently that the quote “we are all in the same boat” could actually be “we’re all in the same storm, but we have different supplies and supports to weather it.” Some of us might be in a mega-yacht and some of us might be in a rowboat, but what matters is empathy for how someone else is doing. What I find is that students at Aspen Country Day School are always thinking to the next level. They seem have a more worldly lens as they approach their learning. It’s impressive; it helps build and strengthen that lens of empathy.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An interior decorator. I used to decorate the inside of my dollhouse with different wallpaper, which made my mom crazy. Or a teacher. I had a little chalkboard I would play on.