Margaret Haviland’s journey to education started when she headed to college to become a college professor. Over time, she began teaching history at Westtown High School, before eventually moving into more administrative and leadership positions.
After holding positions such as department chair, program coordinator and assistant head of school, Haviland finds herself in a new position as the new head of school at the Westfield Friends School in Cinnaminson.
“When I was looking for a new job, I wanted to stay somewhere in Friends education and sort of out of the blue, Westfield Friends called me,” said Haviland. “Friends has a belief that there is that of God in every person and that is the basis of our education. That and the belief of continuing revelation.
“It actually works well with what is going on in education right now,” Haviland continued. “There’s this idea that the best way to approach educating children is to have this idea of a growth mindset. That we all come into life with strengths and weaknesses and that we have to keep working to make the strengths stronger and shore up the weaknesses. It’s exciting to see what has always been a part of my educational practices and philosophy now having the educational world come around to it as well.”
While Haviland’s teaching approach is something that is building within education, it’s also her background in history that gives her an interesting perspective within her new position.
“We have children from all religious backgrounds here,” said the Moorestown resident. “I think that’s one of the strengths in the school, and as the new head something that I really want to lift up is the diversity and the strength that we get from our diversity.
“As a historian, I tend to think about cause and effect and change in effect,” Haviland continued.” My degree is in U.S. history, but over the last decade I’ve been teaching world and Asian history. I started to look across regions to find differences and connections. Now as the new head, I need to make sure that we are delivering a program so that all students can see themselves in it while also learning about others. That’s the framework that I bring from a person grounded in history.”
According to Haviland, there has been a school operated by the Religious Society of Friends in Westfield since around 1788. When the Quakers founded the colonies of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they created the Friends school to meet with children, but in other cases to educate children due to the lack of a public school system at the time.
With Haviland now serving as the head of school, she will get to continue teaching the history of the Quakers, but will also get to leave her own imprint on the community. While she is just getting her footing in the new position, Haviland is excited about the next step.
“Right now, I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose,” said Haviland. “I come from a place where I knew the history of it because I was there for a long time and I did the research, but now I’m really enjoying meeting people and having them fill in the stories for me. Also, when we go to the meeting house for worship, it’s amazing to see what these young kids will stand up and say they’re thankful for.”