Celebrating National Principals Month: Mary Speegle, Morgan County

Mary Speegle
Priceville Junior High
Morgan County Schools

Mary Speegle is a true middle school principal, serving as leader of a “junior high” that includes grades five through eight. The small community of Priceville, part of the Huntsville-Decatur Statistical Area, has been described as a “home to horse farms and NASA scientists.” Mary is a Morgan County native who earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary math and science from Athens State, and in 2003 gained a Master’s in education administration from Alabama A&M. Mary taught algebra and geometry at Brewer High School for 16 years before moving to the newly reconstituted Priceville High. She became principal of Priceville Junior High in 2007.

How long have you been a principal?

This is the start of my twelfth year as a middle school principal, at the same school I attended in the seventies.

Briefly describe your education journey.

My education journey began 32 years ago as a high school math teacher and cheer coach at Brewer High School in Morgan County. I taught there for sixteen years and left there to come to Priceville High School, when it became a high school after 32 years, and taught for four years. I have been in the Morgan County School District my entire school life, beginning in kindergarten.

What are 2-3 insights you would share with others who want to become principals?

I would like to share with anyone who wants to become a principal that it is not an 8-3 job, there are many 16-hour days. If you do not love children like they are your own, you do not need to get into administration. Always have an open door policy when it comes to students, parents, teachers, and community members. Remember you were a teacher first, never forget where you came from.

What keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

My grades 5-8 babies that come from families that do not love or care for them enough is what keeps me up at night, I say a prayer every night for my kids. This is the same reason I get out of bed in the morning, to take care of my children at school.

What is your favorite leadership book (or books)

My favorite leadership book is Called to the Middle by Oklahoma middle school principal Joseph Eidson.

What are 2-3 essential skills that all leaders should possess?

The essential skills that all leaders should possess are compassion, integrity, and patience.