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RICHLAND ONE EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Heyward Gibbes Middle Science Teacher Dr. Margaret Ekeh Wants to Make a Difference in Her Students’ Lives

Dr. Margaret EkehDr. Margaret Ekeh has been teaching in Richland One for 24 years. She has spent six of those years at Heyward Gibbes Middle School as a sixth grade science teacher. Throughout her teaching career, she’s seen firsthand how students learn and behave at different stages.  

“These students need teachers like me who have children like them,” said Dr. Ekeh. “I want to make sure every student gets a touch of my heart.”

All three of Dr. Ekeh’s daughters went to Richland One schools. Dr. Ekeh even had her eldest daughter as a student when she taught fifth grade at John P. Thomas Elementary. Dr. Ekeh has also taught at Forest Heights Elementary, Bradley Elementary and Hopkins Middle.

Dr. Ekeh believes in treating her students the same way she treated her daughters – with tough love. She says that’s especially true for middle school students.

“Middle school students can be feisty and you need to make sure you give them attention, even if it’s not positive,” said Dr. Ekeh. “Sometimes I have to put my students in line to make sure they’re behaving. Not only am I teaching them academics, I’m teaching them how to succeed and find themselves as they get older.”

Before coming to Richland One, Dr. Ekeh worked at the Department of Juvenile Justice for four years.

“During my time there, I saw students who were so smart but ended up on the wrong side of the law,” she said. “That was one of the catalysts that helped me decide I’m going to make a difference by teaching in Richland One.”

One of the ways Dr. Ekeh gets her students motivated is through technology. She uses programs like Kahoot for quizzes and Flocabulary to teach students new words.

“Richland One has provided a lot of resources to help make learning fun for students. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve chosen to stay so long,” she said.

Dr. Ekeh also motivates her students by reviewing topics, especially before a big test. She says that helps students who may not have understood a topic the first time.

“When I revisit a topic, I try to figure out what the students did not understand and check on those who are not doing as well as they should be,” said Dr. Ekeh.

Through her teaching methods, Dr. Ekeh says she takes a lot of pride in how her students succeed, even if she’s just getting to know them.

“I have one student who just started here at Heyward Gibbes and he had one of the highest scores on the state science test in his class,” she said.

Dr. Ekeh has seen how she can make a difference in a student’s life, even after they graduate from high school. One morning, she reunited with a former student who was working at a Bojangles. He greeted Dr. Ekeh in the drive-thru.

“I was so excited to see him,” she said. “I went to go park my car just to go inside the restaurant and give him a hug.” 

Dr. Ekeh’s advice to new teachers is to love your job and show the students how much you care about them.

“Students need adults who care. When students know you care, they will care about what you want them to care about,” she said.

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