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Lafayette twins teach at school they attended as children

March 29, 2019

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Morgan Mercado and Taylor Wallace have a lot in common. They share the same DNA and the same profession. They teach at the same school.

The identical twins even share an Instagram handle that has amassed more than 2,900 followers as they’ve leaned in on their common traits and built a presence on social media as the “Double Duty Teachers.” Through Instagram and Facebook, they share their passion for teaching with thousands of followers, posting tips, project ideas and classroom experiences.

But there was a time when the Meaux twins from Lafayette tried to create more differences in their lives.

Identical twins who were born a minute apart, they often got lumped together, like being called “the twins” rather than by their individual names or getting mistaken for the other one.

“I dyed my hair red in high school just to be different so people could tell us apart,” Taylor said.

So when they graduated from Lafayette High and set their sights on the same college (the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), they at least started with different majors.

Taylor already was locked into teaching. She realized she wanted to be a teacher as a young leader in vacation Bible school, so she chose to study education.

“I could see the impact I had on the kids and see them learning,” Taylor said. “I thought, ‘I think I can do this.’”

Morgan started in journalism.

“I did not want to do the same thing as her, but I still wanted to make an impact,” Morgan said.

But by the time they graduated in 2015, she’d changed her mind and her major, first to high school education (since Taylor was doing elementary) and finally to exactly the same as her sister.

‘THE ULTIMATE DREAM’

Now 26, they’ve embraced the closeness, working in the same place and living so close to one another that they share a gate.

“It’s inevitable,” Taylor said.

They are in their fourth year of teaching elementary school, their second teaching together at Woodvale Elementary.

“We came to school here, we had amazing gifted teachers at Woodvale, so teaching gifted here together was just the dream,” Morgan said. “When I got my job, it was like a dream come true.”

Morgan takes inspiration from their time as children at the same school. She remembers her fourth-grade gifted teacher who made an effort to see the individual traits in all of her students who often were grouped together.

“She took time to get to know me, and being a twin, that had a big impact on me,” Morgan said. “I knew I wanted to do that.”

So they try to bring that to their own classrooms.

“We strive to be good role models and do more than just teaching them fractions,” Taylor said.

When Morgan started at their alma mater, Taylor was teaching in Acadia Parish and loved her job there. It was hard to leave, but when she learned Woodvale needed another gifted teacher, she couldn’t pass up the chance.

Teaching together was their “ultimate dream,” after all.

“We love it. It’s very unique. I do fourth-grade gifted, and she does third-grade gifted. We only have one group, so I literally get all of her students,” Morgan said.

There are some differences in their day-to-day, despite working in the same place.

They teach different grades. Morgan teaches social studies and reading. Taylor does math and science.

Both are now married and have different last names, and Taylor has some blonde in her hair, while Morgan’s is fully brown. Their kids know.

“Our kids tell us apart much better than our coworkers,” Taylor said.

DOUBLE DUTY TEACHERS

In 2016, as second-year teachers, the pair started an Instagram account and Facebook page as Double Duty Teachers.

They were following several “awesome teachers” and learning from them, so Taylor said, “Let’s do it.” Morgan thought it might be too early in their career, but Taylor saw value in it.

“Morgan did not want to,” Taylor said. “But it’s simply for the fact that it’s so fun and motivating. It keeps me going so much.”

And now Morgan is thankful for it as an opportunity to share with parents and the public what teachers do in the classroom.

On social media (@doubledutyteachers), they’ve shared a March Madness-inspired bracket that pits books against each other and encourages students to read. They talk about their after-school robotics club and post pictures of funny dress-up days, among other things.

One of their most popular posts on Instagram was when a package arrived from Dav Pilkey, author of the “Captain Underpants” and “Dog Man” books.

As a writing project, Morgan had her students write opinion letters to real companies, promising to mail them. A student named Wayne wrote to Pilkey explaining why he likes the author’s Dog Man character better than Captain Underpants.

Morgan mailed the letter, and Pilkey responded with a package for Wayne and the class, complete with autographed books and a letter.

“Make writing fun and REAL for your students — it’s worth it,” reads part of the caption on Instagram. The post has received more than 100 likes and several comments, many from other teachers around the world.

Another popular post was of a worksheet Taylor used to ask her students for wedding advice.

She married in December and featured some of the sheets at her reception. Many of her students reminded the future husband how much their teacher loves sushi so he can keep her happy.

The sisters’ passion for their classrooms and students is easy to see, from their social posts and their personalized (but matching) T-shirts with sayings like “Live Laugh Love Teach.”

You can hear it when they talk about their students or about that upcoming conference they’re traveling to for new ideas and motivation.

They even got certified to teach yoga to kids.

“If there’s something we can do, we do it,” Morgan puts it plainly.

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