Though Friendswood, TX is far from New York’s Broadway, Friendswood Junior High theatre arts teacher Sean Morgan brings a big-stage feel to this small town. Morgan began working at FJH three years ago when the position came open, and he said he knew it was fate.
“I had an itch to work doing creative stuff and I had a background in working with kids through ministry, so when this position came open, I thought it was a neat opportunity,” Morgan said. “The community loves theatre in Friendswood, so I thought it would be fun to get involved.”
This decision was a drastic shift from what Morgan had been doing. For 20 years, he had owned and operated his own business, primarily selling spray-on bed liner for trucks. Despite the business’s success, Morgan did not feel fulfilled, that is until he started volunteering with the children’s ministry at Sagemont Baptist Church.
“I fell in love with storytelling; everything from writing to stage productions to acting,” Morgan stated. “It wasn’t my background, but it’s something I discovered along the way.”
This discovery was not just a newfound passion, but also something that Morgan was really good at, and people noticed. While he was still helping with productions at church, Morgan was approached by a friend who had just seen the movie Facing the Giants, a Christian film by the Kendrick Brothers. “You should do that,” the friend said to Morgan, to which Morgan replied, “I don’t know anything about movie-making.” Little did he know that two years later, he would be working on set for another Kendrick Brothers film, Fireproof.
“I went and stood in for Kirk Cameron, I was a part of the camera team, I did a lot of work hauling stuff around,” Morgan said. “I got to see how the film process worked and I thought, ‘Okay, I can do this.’”
After seven years of scriptwriting and conceptualizing, Morgan was ready to direct and produce his own film, a Christian comedy titled Altar Egos. The film features actors Erin Bethea, Victoria Jackson, Robert Amaya, and his son Max Morgan. Altar Egos can be streamed on Amazon Prime.
This production was a huge growing experience that drove Morgan to share and teach his love of storytelling to students when he accepted the job with FJH.
“I try to bring my real-world experience into the classroom and try to shine that to kids: it completely affects everything in the way I teach,” Morgan said. “With adults in a professional setting, they want to be there and they want it to be good. If they trust their director, then they take direction. In that way, it’s the same because I have to get the students to trust me.”
Morgan has earned the trust of the students, according to FJH Principal Dana Drew.
“If you asked students that have been in his classes, they would all agree that he is/was one of their favorite teachers,” Drew said. “He is enthusiastic, personable, compassionate, and really respects his students.”
He has also earned the respect of the community, specifically after the incredible response to last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Morgan said the moment he and FJH Theatre Director Heather Garsen met, they knew they had to do a musical.
“We didn’t want to just do it, we wanted to do it right,” Morgan said.
So that is what they did: Morgan and Garsen spent countless hours preparing their students for their performance and what came of it was nothing short of spectacular.
“We’re very thankful that it came out great,” Morgan stated. “But, we’re also thankful that the community came out and saw it and supported it.”
Drew said he was blown away by the work that went into creating the production.
“[Morgan’s] talent on visualizing a set for a play is immeasurable,” Drew said. “If you saw the sets for our musical production, you would have seen outstanding scenery.”
However, Morgan credits much of the show's success to Garsen who directed the play.
“She’s amazing,” Morgan said. “Her strengths are my weaknesses. I tend to be more like a wacky professor kind of a guy and she’s very orderly but creative, so we balance each other very well. We’re very much so a team.”
The team of two is currently in the process of working on their next musical, The Little Mermaid, for which they have pulled inspiration from The Little Mermaid Live that aired on ABC.
The show, which is bound to be another huge success, will just be one more way Morgan can pass along his knowledge to the students.
“I believe Mr. Morgan's lessons are geared toward students’ interests,” Drew stated. “He makes an impact on our students and school.”
The biggest lesson Morgan said he would like to teach his students is to pursue the things they love.
“I feel lucky in many ways,” Morgan said. “I wish I would have found this passion much earlier in my life, but if you can find where your strengths meet your passions, you will find yourself successfully living a life you want to live.”