In the year of 2013, Natasha Morse joined the Da Vinci Schools team as a resource specialist and later became our real-world learning director.
Morse earned her bachelor’s in international affairs at the University of Southern California (USC), an administrative services credential from California State University-Long Beach (CSULB), and her master’s degree in special education from Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
Before going to college and coming to Da Vinci, Natasha had various interests. While in high school, she originally thought about becoming a journalist or a lawyer. At times she even started to think about traveling.
“The one thing I said I wasn’t going to do was being a teacher because my mom was a first-grade teacher and I was like I’m not going to be a teacher. Fast forward many years and that’s exactly what I did,”Morse stated.
Morse believes two things brought her towards her current career path, she stated, “when I got out of college I worked in a refugee camp in West Africa and I helped create an afterschool program there and I worked with former child soldiers and it was really an amazing experience and I loved every piece of it.”
She continues, “When I came back I got a job and worked for a magazine and I realized I didn’t like sitting at a desk all day and I didn’t like doing things that I didn’t feel were meaningful. So that was at the point where I started to reconsider teaching because I was like wait I was kind of doing that in Africa and I liked it.”
The second reason came when she was a teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Morse worked with a lot of kids who were around 17 and 18 years old and pretty behind academically.
“I found myself kind of not caring so much about certain aspects like solving a certain type of equation and I found it to be more important that we found the intersection between their skills and their interests and got them doing more of that. Like what are you good at? What do you wanna do what makes you feel passionate?”
Morse eventually decided to continue with real-world learning she stated, ¨it is important for me to connect kids to things that they enjoy and things that they’re good at and help them see how that can possibly be a career.¨
Conveniently, that is how she came to work with Da Vinci Schools. Morse knew it was time for a change in her career before pursuing real-world learning, and so she went to a Teach for America job fair.
Morse explained, “when I was there I met Allegra, who’s the director of special ed here. She told me about Da Vinci and told me they had positions available and when she started to explain Da Vinci I was like wow that sounds like everything I think a school should be.”
She shares how at Da Vinci it seemed like students and teachers were happy and prioritized the same things. Morse noted, ¨kids need to feel good at school. They need to feel like what they’re doing is important and they need to be given autonomy and time to flourish.
¨I remember even when I came from my interview and my sample lesson and I left and I felt like I really like that place that’s the right place for me.”
On an average day, Natasha describes meeting with a lot of people and being in a lot of different places as a constant within her job.
¨I’ll wake up around 6. I’ll look at my calendar and double check what I need to do and see how professional I need to dress if there’s anything important. I’ll take my dog to the park and then typically I go to where our temporary building right now is. From there it kind of depends if I have some time I’ll tackle some tasks I need to do but sometimes I’ll have meetings with different people.¨
The meetings can range from talking with industry partners discussing partnerships, principals, and teachers about projects and advisory boards or meeting with our CEO to talk through his needs.
Morse goes on to say, ¨about twice a week I do a little class for Da Vinci Extension (DVX) students about real-world learning preparing them for internships.”
Natasha has gone through a wonderful journey, and the DVC staff is glad to have her on the team. Her dedication to our school embodies everything we represent and encourage on campus.