Margaret Wiggins ended her career the same way it started, by staging a performance of Cinderella.
"It's actually the first fifth-grade show I did here in the spring of 1991," said Wiggins, who retired this year as the music teacher of Blue Ridge Elementary School after nearly 30 years as an educator. "Now, it's also the last one."
Wiggins started teaching in Richmond County before taking a 12-year hiatus to raise her three children. She resumed her career 21 years ago at Blue Ridge Elementary.
"I became a music major by accident," said Wiggins, who has played piano since she was 5. "I was destined to be a home economics major and a music minor. Then, I decided music was the major I would pursue since it has always been such a big part of my life."
Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Jeff Collman said "it'll be hard to match the shoe print she has left" on the school's music program. So much so, he sought Wiggins' help in finding her replacement.
"She had built up a program that is outstanding and she wants somebody to come in that she feels comfortable will help fill her shoes," Collman said.
Wiggins and Collman agreed on Bel Air Elementary music teacher Robyn Bailey.
"Both of us feel confident that (Bailey) will be able to come in and re-establish a solid program to build on," Collman said.
Though Wiggins had not planned to retire when the current school year started in August, she decided it was time to move on when she counted back all the plays she has produced.
Each year at Blue Ridge, Wiggins staged musicals for each of the first through fifth grades. Cinderella is her 100th production and she said the milestone seemed a fitting place to stop.
"I need to be with my family," she said. "My husband has been retired for a while. I have three grandchildren and another one on the way. I want to make them a priority."
Still, leaving behind the pupils she shared her love of music with won't be easy.
"I thoroughly enjoy teaching," she said. "It's going to be very difficult to make the change come fall (when school resumes), but I feel like it's the Lord's will for me to (retire) and it's time."
Also, Wiggins said she'll miss her work as a writer.
"A lot of the shows I've done I've written," she said. "My favorite one is Georgia Has It All . It's all about the state of Georgia and done using shadow drama."
Shadow drama features children acting out characters in silhouette behind a white screen while other children narrate.
"For example, there would be a big Coke bottle on the screen ... (third-grade pupils) would walk between the projector and the screen and they would be silhouetted drinking a Coke or laughing. The chorus would be singing, 'I'd like to teach the world to sing.' "
Wiggins said Coke was part of the curriculum of third-graders studying state history because it is a Georgia-based company.
"I've always tried to make what the children are studying part of their shows to reinforce what they're learning," she said. "I want them to have a great time learning."
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