Margaret M. Young was a passionate educator for 40 years in the Irving Independent School District. In 1951 she began her career in education as an elementary school teacher, setting the highest standards for herself and her peers and working diligently to reach every boy and girl in her care with creative learning experiences. In 1966, she went on to serve as school counselor at Bowie Junior High, followed by a position as reading consultant for Irving ISD and as a member of the State Textbook Committee. In 1979 she received the honor of being named TEPSAN of the Year by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.
First Female Principal
In 1973, Mrs. Young made history by becoming the first female principal in Irving ISD at Otis Brown Elementary. After five successful years at Otis Brown, she was asked by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John F. Townley, to design a new elementary school. Using her own philosophy of education and research of learning methods and environment, Mrs. Young did just that. In 1979, Principal Young opened Townley Elementary School where she served as principal until her retirement in 1991. Townley Elementary, whose mascot is the “Torchlighter,” exemplified Margaret Young’s belief that it was her responsibility as an educator to “light the torch” for others, and she challenged all of those around her to do the same. She led by example and was passionate about empowering her staff to be the best they could be.
With the design of Townley Elementary, Principal Young, along with a group of teachers, was able to create a learning environment by writing “educational specifications” and a “design for learning.” The school’s design included spacious rooms and corridors. The entrance and hallways were welcoming with attractive murals, scenes and color. Special features included a small theater, a wood sculpture, fireplace, an aviary with live birds, a bridge and stream. The library – called the Media Center – was designed without interior walls, inviting children to discover the wonders of reading. Every facet of the building was designed to enhance the learning experience.
Principal Young was instrumental in changing the course of learning at Irving ISD. She was quoted in a February 1978 article in Irving Daily News as saying, “The need for education to be a lifelong process for teacher and student is obvious. For this reason, the environment must be so engineered as to cause those on the scene to be curious, excited and challenged by what they see, hear and do.” At the dedication ceremony for John F. Townley Elementary School, a representative from the Texas State Board of Education said, “This school, as dedicated today, is a culmination of the dreams of a community dedicated to the children.” During her time at Townley the school was recognized by the state as an Exemplary campus.
When asked her philosophy of education she said, “I like to relate to a story I once read about Louis Aguirre, a noted naturalist, who, with his crew, was to embark on an expedition to the North Pole. He called his crew together on board ship for last minute briefings and ended the meeting with these words: ‘We may not catch a whale, but we’ll have a lovely sail.’ In school business, I believe in catching the whale, but I also believe the environment that children are exposed to in the sailing process may be the most important element in catching a well-rounded, literate, well-adjusted, curious whale or a student with a whale of a capacity for learning!”
Mrs. Young’s joy for a life well lived was evident. She had an endless supply of energy and creativity that propelled her in every area. She was loved by family, staff, parents, and children alike, and all who knew her remember her contagious smile and attitude that “almost anything is possible if you put your mind to it!”
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Written by guest contributor Lisa Lobb