Welcome to #HathChat: In this new blog series, we’re featuring a Q&A with a different member of the Hathaway Brown faculty and staff. Bookmark hb.edu/blog for a new HathChat every other week!
A native New Englander, Jamie Morse has made Cleveland his home most of his adult life. A parent of two HB alums (Julia ’99 and Betsy ’03), Morse has been teaching at HB since 1983. He is the Upper School’s Visual Arts Department Chair and Art, Art History and Photography Teacher, and he was previously was Upper School Dean of Students from 1996 through 2009. He loves teaching and takes great pride in the impact he has made on students over the years at HB, always encouraging individual growth in his students, artistically and academically. Jamie is also an award-winning painter who exhibits his work both locally and nationally. He hopes to dedicate himself to his art full time once he retires from HB. Read on to learn more!
Tell us about the path that you took and eventually led you to Hathaway Brown School.
I graduated from Philadelphia College of Art with a degree in Painting, so the one constant my whole life has been my art – it is “my other career” and it will be my full-time career once I retire from teaching (see my work on Facebook at “Jamie Morse Paintings” – always self-promoting!). I spent my twenties in a seemingly countless variety of jobs, and my working life really lacked serious direction. I worked in retail, managed an art supply store, worked in a maintenance position, worked construction, drove a truck, cleaned bars and restaurants, and even worked at the Cleveland Tofu Company! In my late twenties, I was in the Art/Antiques business, which was interesting, but it was a difficult, and somewhat less than ethical, way to make a living. I learned to hate it. So I decided to move to California with no particular plan but, before that happened, since I had a two-year-old daughter to worry about, I looked to see if there were any art teaching jobs here in Cleveland and out of the blue I found out Hathaway Brown had an opening. So, sort of on a whim, I applied and got the job. I had virtually no experience teaching, and had no idea if I had any talent as a teacher. From the beginning, I tried (for the most part) to be the opposite of the teachers I had growing up. I rarely felt respected by teachers when I was a student, so I have made it my mission to respect students as people first and foremost. I never, ever, talk down to kids, or feel superior to them in any way. I’m just older and more experienced, that’s all. It works. Been at it ever since.
What is a day in your life like?
I wake at 5:30am, make my wife a to-go breakfast (fried egg, English muffin, Canadian bacon sandwich), prepare coffee, feed the cat, play with the cat, then my wife and I often carpool to work (she teaches at Laurel). I arrive at HB usually about 6:30 and get a ton of work done before the first bell. After the school day, I head home and often paint in my studio for an hour or two, before dinner. After dinner, I play with the cat and go to bed. Playing with the cat is important, obviously.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Easy question. Whenever I get down or overwhelmed, all it takes is for the bell to ring and students walk in and away I go. HB students make my day special, and they are what I enjoy most: they’re smart, funny, ambitious, and caring. It is a truly symbiotic relationship: I try to inspire them, they energize me.
How do you stay creative and inspired?
I never have a problem with that.
If you weren’t teaching at Hathaway Brown, what do you think you would be doing?
I love physical work, so if I were doing something else, I might be a builder or contractor, or maybe a chef. But I still would remain an artist.
What is something most people might know about you?
I played in rock bands in high school and college (guitar, bass, drums), and was a fanatical concert goer in the 60’s and 70’s. The only major act I did not see perform was The Beatles. Name an artist between 1965–1980 and I likely saw them perform. My hearing loss is a result of this lifestyle.
What school, career, or life advice a.) do you wish you had received and/or b.) that you would give to students today?
Wake up every day and give it your best shot.
Do not set long-term goals.
Stay tuned for our next #HathChat coming soon!