CatholicPhilly.com presents a Q&A with the West Chester parish school’s principal, Margaret Egan, the latest in a special ongoing series of interviews with leaders of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
I came from a family of five children and the responsibilities of helping the younger siblings enabled me to see that working with children came natural to me.
How long have you been working in education?
Next year will be my 50th year working in Catholic education as a teacher/principal.
How many years at SS. Peter and Paul School?
I have been principal of SS. Peter and Paul School in West Chester for 15 years.
What makes you most proud as the leader of the school?
I think what makes me the proudest as the leader of SS. Peter and Paul School is knowing that this school, which is only 16 years old, was able to establish itself quickly as one the finest Catholic schools in Chester County and the whole Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
What unique academic programs does your school offer students?
One of the unique academic programs that we offer students is using the Response to Intervention Program for students who struggle to learn to read. We have levels of support and use the Fundations Reading Program in addition to a Basal Reading Series to enable success and give challenge at the same time.
Name the top three points that you tell prospective students and families about your school. Three things that make SS. Peter and Paul School the best are: the governance model that we use is the Board of Limited Jurisdiction; we have a student-run TV studio that broadcasts three times a day every day; and the school building is newer, air-conditioned and has an adjacent field for lunchtime play.
What is the one piece of advice that you wish you could go back and tell yourself?
I do not have anything about my elementary years or high school years that I wish that I could go back and tell myself to do different. I enjoyed those years in Catholic schools immensely. I would advise students today always to do your best for you, do not worry about things that you cannot control and have fun every day.
What is the greatest challenge in Catholic education today?
I see the greatest challenge in Catholic education today is affordability. This is where I see the role of the Board of Limited Jurisdiction coming into play. Making sure that excellence and cost are possible.
What inspires you to work in Catholic education?
The dedication and faith of so many people have inspired me and have influenced me to know that what we do in Catholic education is the greatest gift that we can give to future generations.
What is a special tradition in your school that people should know?
We host a Volunteer Breakfast each year where all the students perform for all volunteers/parents. The eighth graders act as waiters and waitresses and the students take popular songs and change the words, sing and dance for everyone.
What is your favorite part of the school day? Academic year?
My favorite time of the school day is lunchtime. I get to be with the students while they are relaxed, eating and enjoying their interactions with each other. My favorite time of the academic year is graduation because we get to admire what we as a team — parents, faculty and parish — have worked so hard to accomplish.
When you’re not at school what are you most likely doing?
When I am not in school, I am most likely having family time with my four grandchildren and two grand dogs.
What is one thing that people would be most surprised to learn about you?
I worked summers at Veterans Stadium when it first opened.
What is your favorite restaurant or local attraction?
I do not have one favorite restaurant. I enjoy simple or fancy as long as I do not have to cook it or clean up after it.
What are your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobbies are reading and relaxing.
Who is your favorite sports team?
My favorite sports teams are all the Philly teams — Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, Union and Soul.
What is your favorite book?
My favorite book is “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. I enjoy a good laugh.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot is Myrtle Beach, S.C.