About

History

THE REVEREND CANON ERNEST D. SILLERS FOUNDER, ST. MARGARET'S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL

"A solid foundation assists a child to find strength when tested."
Nestled among gently rolling hills, St. Margaret's Episcopal School is situated on a picturesque 22-acre campus in historic San Juan Capistrano, just three miles from the Pacific Ocean.

In 2013, St. Margaret's welcomed Head of School William N. Moseley as its new leader. In his first three years with St. Margaret’s, Mr. Moseley has made a tremendous impact on the school community. He led the creation and construction of the state-of-the-art 44,000-square-foot Maseeh Middle School campus and an expansive outdoor campus center, the Highlands Quad, that opened in the fall of 2015. He focused the community on the importance of growing the endowment fund that has more than doubled in three years to $7.4 million. The Board of Trustees and Mr. Moseley together unveiled a bold and visionary course for the future of the school in the 2016 Strategic Plan. Today, St. Margaret’s is in its 38th year as a leader in the San Juan Capistrano community and educational landscape of Orange County, California.

In 1979, the Reverend Canon Ernest D. Sillers, an Episcopal priest with a deep passion for education, founded St. Margaret's Episcopal Church and School. Father Sillers was certain in his vision: establish a college-preparatory school rooted in a framework that nurtures a student's mind, body, spirit, and social and moral development.

St. Margaret's was named to honor the 11th century Queen Margaret of Scotland, Patron Saint of Education. Befitting its namesake, the school carries many Scottish traditions including Highland bagpipers processing in full regalia at formal ceremonies, student teams competing as The Tartans, the Scottie Dog Lower School mascot and the tartan plaid design seen throughout campus.

In its first year, St. Margaret's welcomed 79 students attending kindergarten through grade six in temporary buildings. The Early Childhood Development Center opened in 1981 and by June 1986, when Father Sillers addressed the first graduating class, students were enrolled in preschool through grade 12.

St. Margaret's welcomed its second headmaster, Markham B. Campaigne, in September 1986. During his seventeen-year tenure, the school grew to more than 1,200 students and expanded its traditional mission-styled campus to include new classroom buildings, science labs, athletic facilities and a comprehensive library.

Under the guidance of Marcus D. Hurlbut, St. Margaret's third headmaster, 2003-2013, campus expansion continued, while vigorous academic preparation and moral development remained hallmarks of a St. Margaret's education. A new Upper School campus was established with the construction of the DeYoung Family Math and Science Center and renovation of the Stoddard Humanities Building, as well as the addition of the Tartan Field, Pasternack Field House and the world-class, 55,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center. Traditions of academic distinction, athletic championships and artistic acclaim were all sustained by a community of exceptional faculty and dedicated families committed to educational excellence and integrity.

With technologically-advanced learning environments and spirit of excellence and innovation in everything we do, Father Sillers' philosophy of educating the whole child endures in an updated 21st century learning approach. As graduates matriculate to a broad range of college programs, including the most selective universities in the nation, they join more than 2,000 alumni who, when tested, find strength from their St. Margaret's foundation, just as Father Sillers intended nearly 40 years ago.
    • 'School
      1979

      School Ground Breaking

    • 'First
      1981

      First Permanent School Building

    • 'SMEC
      1982

      SMEC Offices and Second School Building

    • 'Sillers
      1985

      Sillers Hall Opens

    • 'Early
      1988

      Early Childhood Development Center Opens

An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949.661.0108