Surprise Squad honors Brooking’s Elementary’s ‘Mr. Sunshine’

This month, we’re recognizing a Springfield educator who goes above and beyond not only for the students in his classroom, but for his entire community.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - School is back in session and so is the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad. This month, we’re recognizing a Springfield educator who goes above and beyond not only for the students in his classroom, but for his entire community.

With a nickname to match his positive energy and infectious smile, John Morgan can brighten any room, but in this case the field outside the Brookings School.

It was a beautiful September day in Springfield and the sun was shining outside Brookings Elementary School when dozens of students, teachers, and community members were waiting to surprise the real sunshine, who was behind a set of doors.

“He’s just a fantastic guy and does so much not only for school, but for church, for community,” said Sabrena Brantley.

“I like his personality because he’s really helpful and he helps you when you’re feeling down,” added third grader Patrice.

Morgan does it all. He works as a paraprofessional helping students with special needs, leads the school’s gospel choir, and is a pastor at a local church, but brightening days is what Morgan – or ‘Mr. Sunshine’ – is best known for.

One he walked out those doors, it was pretty clear why.

“I am very surprised, oh my gosh…This is so fantastic. Thank you all so much, oh my gosh,” Morgan said.

Stunned by the crowd waiting for him outside, the surprises had only just begun.

“Mr. Sunshine, congratulations. On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, we would like to present you with this check for $500 for your school,” said Gary Rome, president of Gary Rome Hyundai.

“We also have a gift card for you for $200 and some great Cowboys gear and Marvel gear because we heard you are a fan,” added Carla Cosenzi, president of Country Hyundai.

It was principal Terry Powe who orchestrated the entire surprise.

“So he’s doing his regular routine this morning, oblivious,” Powe explained.

Not only did the Brookings school community come out in full support for Morgan, but his family was front and center for the big surprise.

“I have no words. Look…oh, you got me. You got me,” Morgan said.

His wife, Shirissee, grateful for the opportunity to be able to give back to her husband.

“He’s just an incredible guy and I’m grateful that this happened for him. He needed something to help let him know he’s incredible,” Shirissee Morgan said.

However, Morgan’s biggest fans are his students.

“He’s a great man,” said third grader Amarie.

“I like his personality and he’s really kind and he helps me a lot with singing,” added third grader Nyla.

He even joined them in song with a special message.

“You can do anything. Yes, you can. Woah, woah, woah.”

That brought one of Morgan’s fellow teachers to tears.

“Mr. Morgan is a godsend…Everybody showed up for him because he shows up for so many every day. Without a doubt, he shows up. He is here. He is on time. He is prepared. He wants to get the job done and he makes Elias Brookings a better place to come into because ‘Mr. Sunshine’ is here,” said Brookings teacher Rhonda Hall Reynolds.

His shining light was surely felt by everyone in the crowd.

“He has a heart of gold and to watch him sing with the kids, he is doing a great job influencing them,” said Brian House, general manager of Balise Hyundai.

“I’m just so grateful that we could get back and recognize some of that for ‘Mr. Sunshine.’ His enthusiasm is contagious and he gets it,” Rome added.

“It’s really easy to understand now why his nickname is ‘Mr. Sunshine’ because he does change the whole energy in a room or a crowd when he walks in,” Cosenzi noted.

Although Mr. Morgan might not be cheering for the Pats this season, it was clear he has plenty of fans of his own.

“They talk about how much I’ve done but they’ve given so much back to me both the staff and these kids. I’m giving something, but I feel like I’m gaining something more and that’s a blessing for me,” Morgan said.