The daughter of two educators, Meg Huggins grew up “playing teacher” with her parents’ old textbooks and class materials. Charting a new path in college, she chose to major in psychology but soon landed on history and political science with the aim of attending law school. Her sorority began volunteering with a Head Start program, and her interactions with children and their families had a huge impact.
“Growing up I thought everyone was a teacher,” Huggins says. “I don’t think I realized there were other jobs. In college, I recognized the power of connecting with the community and students and reignited my passion for education.”
After completing her undergraduate degree, Huggins began looking for programs that would allow her to receive her teaching certification while learning the art of teaching. The College of Education was one of the only options offering that program at the time.
When River Bluff High School opened, Huggins joined the faculty as a lead educator in their law center. She began to understand some of the facets of administration through committee roles and saw herself making the transition from teaching to leadership and forwarding the mission and vision of the school. Her district participated in a cohort program in the College of Education that allowed professionals throughout the district to receive their master’s in education administration.
“In my new role, I was able to work with community members and help teachers design instructional content pieces,” Huggins says. “I was always thinking of new ways to support our students. Luke Clamp was our principal at the time, and he was a great mentor and leader. He continued to give me opportunities as a lead teacher so that I would be prepared for administration.”
Huggins shared that the master’s cohort model helped defeat some of the isolation that comes with graduate school. Making connections with people throughout her district helped Huggins see new ways to solve problems or share school successes.
“Some of the cohort taught elementary school and was able to share insights that we never experienced,” Huggins says. “We saw the demographics and structures across the district and could brainstorm together. We were able to create structures that would have been impossible to think of alone.”
This spirit of innovation is something that most excites Huggins about her school.
“We are empowered to try new things,” Huggins says. “We get to solve the problems we are closest to. Our job as an administrator is to remove barriers so that we can support our students.”
Huggins shared that River Bluff High School was opened with the intention of meeting students’ needs in ways never attempted before. The school places a high priority on character education beyond measuring the students with test scores. Huggins says the educators are able to get to know students outside of the classroom and learn about them as a whole student.
“We get them ready for life after high school, whatever that means for them,” Huggins says. “We give them a place to practice resiliency, recognize mistakes and learn about a growth mindset in a safe space. We get to teach them they are never going to be right 100 percent of the time.”
Huggins shared that while her career is rewarding, she has faced hard things. Personal health challenges showed her just how real her school family could be.
“I tell my students and teachers all the time that we can do hard things.” Huggins says. “This school has supported me when I could barely show up. We create what we call ‘CREW’ (Creating Relationship, Exploring Within) here. We can’t do hard things alone; education is meant to be collaborative. It raises the level of expectation and excellence that can be achieved when you are working together.”
This message is what Huggins hopes to share as the South Carolina Association of School Administrators Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year. Huggins knows the work is hard, but it is worthy.
“Our students are worth it,” Huggins says. “I could not imagine being in any other profession. The benefit of working in high school, to me, is the ability to see the culmination of preschool, K-12 and family effort when the students walk across the stage at graduation. Reading those more than 500 names is one of my favorite things. This student crossing the stage represents a life’s work, what is better than that.”