Skip to content Where Legends Are Made
Education Apply to UA Make a Gift
Carmichael Hall

Margaret O'Neal

M.Ed. and Certification, The University of Alabama, 1994. Administration.

Teaching Credentials, University of Alabama in Huntsville. 1970.

B.A., Judson College, 1969. History and Sociology.

One’s professional life is a journey, a tapestry woven by the faces and voices of many people. It is the weaving of rich experiences and events that shape the direction of the journey. Margaret’s personal journey of finding a passion for education was a bit unexpected. As a freshman in college, she adamantly voiced to a college advisor who suggested a career in education, “I’ll never teach school!” Such is history. Several years later, a face, a voice and an event gave her an opportunity to begin a journey in teaching that would span 50 years. 

Margaret Young O’Neal grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama, during a time and place of cultural and historical change. These events and experiences had an impact on her teaching and career choices. Margaret began her professional career as a social worker in rural South Alabama where she worked with families in need of services for the care and safety of children. While her husband, Larry, was on active duty in the armed services, she and a new baby moved to Eufaula, Alabama, to be closer to family. It was in 1970, in Eufaula that Margaret began her teaching career. In the midst of a teacher shortage, a family friend asked her to teach until a credentialed teacher could be found. This experience led her to pursue a new career. She would eventually teach in classrooms in Eufaula, in Laurel, Mississippi and in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In 1996, Margaret moved from teaching young adults in the classroom to work as an administrator. Her administrative roles in the Madison County, Tuscaloosa County, and Tuscaloosa City School Districts included assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. After her retirement from K-12 education in 2011, Margaret served as a supervisor and clinical master teacher liaison for the College of Education at The University of Alabama.

Margaret has received many awards and honors during her career. She has been honored with several outstanding teaching awards in each of the districts and communities where she served. At the state level, she was recognized by the Alabama Council for the Social Studies as the Alabama Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year and received the Curriculum Administrator of the Year award given by the Alabama Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. On the national level, she received the George F. Cram Company Scholarship Award and the NCGE Distinguished Teaching Award given by the National Council for Geographic Education. Additionally, she was awarded the Keizai Koho Center Fellowship given by the Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs and the National Council for the Social Studies. Margaret was selected as a teacher consultant for the National Geographic Society Education Program and for the Alabama Geographic Alliance. She served as faculty for geography institutes in Washington, D.C., and at various universities in Alabama. In her capacity as a teacher leader, she and others were charged with growing geographic content knowledge among educators and for building capacity for geography instruction through modeling and coaching. Most importantly, this role included using the teacher platform to encourage the integration of geography standards in the social studies curriculum on the local, state and national levels. Furthering the effort to recognize quality geography education, she served as a reviewer for the advanced professional certification for teachers as defined by the National Council for Geographic Education. 

As administrator, Margaret was involved in several school and district restructuring programs. She served as an individual school leader in the restructuring of the traditional K-12 school, Madison County High School. Their work involved working with not only students in the newly created K-8 school, but with the teachers, parents and community to assure the continuation of a rigorous academic program for students. The same was true when Margaret was named the first principal of Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa where restructuring again involved not only the transformation of an academic setting but the development of a new school culture from one of a traditional mega high school to that of three smaller neighborhood schools. As a district curriculum leader in the Tuscaloosa City Schools, Margaret led a team of educators, parents and community leaders in the research, design and implementation of the curriculum and a plan of instruction for two International Baccalaureate magnate schools at the elementary and middle school levels that would provide a transition to the established IB high school in the district. 

She has been active on the advisory board of the Children’s Hands on Museum and Caring Days, a day program for adults with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders. She has volunteered at Good Samaritan Clinic, a medical clinic for low income and medically uninsured clients. She served on the education committee for the Alabama 200 Bicentennial Commission and worked with the Bicentennial Teacher Institutes held in Tuscaloosa. She currently serves on the advisory committee of the Yellowhammer APT History Hunt virtual field trip series in conjunction with APT and serves on the College of Education Board of Advisors.