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Wando’s Margo Quigley followed in parents’ footsteps by choosing to be an educator

Margo Quigley was named a Top 5 Finalist for Charleston County School District’s 2020 Teacher of the Year. She is a math teacher at Wando High School and the assistant varsity volleyball coach.

 

“We are so proud of Ms. Quigley for being selected as one of the five finalists,” said Principal Sherry Eppelsheimer. “She is a leader among her peers and a champion for all students.” 

 Principal Sherri epplesheimer and Margo Quigley

Quigley grew up in southern Maryland and her parents were absolutely thrilled when she announced she wanted to be an educator. Her father is in his 40th year of serving as a principal at an elementary school and her mother is a retired teacher.

 

“I can consider them expert educators so I lean on them for advice,” said Quigley. “It’s nice to have someone who gets it.”

 

Quigley’s parents were able to watch the surprise announcement unfold on Facebook live thanks to her husband Greg letting them in on the secret.

 

“I always knew growing up that I would be a teacher,” said Quigley. “Education was always such an important component to our family. Also, I had the most amazing math teacher for three years in a row. I wanted to do for others what he did for me.”

 

In fact, she still reaches out to that math teacher for guidance and direction.

 

“I am in charge of the math department and I teach AP Calculus and Geometry,” said Quigley. “At both levels when my students have those lightbulb moments and they understand something they didn’t think they were capable of, it’s encouraging. The kids struggle with things outside of the school, so I encourage them not to give up and meet me halfway. I can be somewhat of a cheerleader to them when necessary.”

 

Quigley’s choice of where to go for college, was a little more difficult than choosing a profession. As a volleyball standout, it seemed only natural to apply to schools that were recruiting. She ultimately decided not to pursue the sport and applied to nine different colleges across the country. She chose Clemson University which waived her out-of-state tuition, making it the least expensive option. To keep things balanced, she earned Masters Degrees at the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina.

 

Quigley graduated college in 2007 - right in the middle of a hiring freeze. However, she learned that Wando had a mid-year math teaching vacancy. The school’s principal at the time, the late Lucy Beckham, hired her and about ten days later she moved to Charleston and snuck into the school year.

 

“There was no time to anticipate what I was about to do,” said Quigley. “I was teaching kids four years younger than me. I was a little nervous.”

 

Through the years she had the opportunity to return to her home state but she was just never ready to leave.

 

“I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Quigley. “It was an honor to work under Lucy Beckham. So many of my decisions are made based on ‘what would Lucy do’. We all miss Lucy. She was influential in the district not just the community of Wando.”

 

Wando is the largest high school in the state. Because of its size, the school is able to offer an array of classes, programming and extra-curricular activities not found at smaller high schools.

 

“People in the community think Wando is this monstrosity, which is kind of true,” said Quigley. “However, the people who work here make it feel smaller by creating a family atmosphere. Educators are in the business of people and we have good people here. I teach math but every teacher in this school joins me in teaching students how to be contributing members of society and to be successful enough to go and make something of themselves.”

 

For example, head volleyball coach Alexis Glover took on the role of being Quigley’s Charleston mother. Quigley also considers current principal Sherry Eppelsheimer an administrator that is beyond supportive of her staff.

 

When Quigley became department head, she embraced the role to be an advocate for her 250 fellow teachers at Wando.

 

“Being Teacher of the Year and being named a Top 5 Finalist gives me an even bigger platform in front of a larger group of teachers,” said Quigley. “The relationships we are already creating with all of the other Teachers of the Year is amazing,” said Quigley. “I am not comfortable with all of this attention, but so many of my past students have reached out and told me about the impact I made on their lives. I am honored.”

 

Eppelsheimer said that through building strong, mutually responsive relationships with her students, they rise to Quigley’s high expectations.

 

“Whether in the classroom, on the court, or in the hallways, Ms. Quigley emulates the word ‘teacher’,” said Eppelsheimer. “She is certainly one of the finest educators with whom I have been privileged to work.” 

 

Quigley said that being an educator is the most rewarding profession she could have ever chosen. Her love for her students goes beyond watching for those lightbulb moments.

 

“All of my decisions are based on what is best for the children,” said Quigley. “Everything needs to be in their best interest. You will never regret offering grace and these kids need people who are willing to help them.”