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."
Founded in 1979, St. Margaret's Episcopal School is situated on a picturesque 22-acre campus in historic San Juan Capistrano, nestled among gently rolling hills three miles from the Pacific Ocean. 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: a college-preparatory school that nurtures a student's mind, body, spirit, and social and moral development establishing a solid foundation for a happy, healthy and meaningful life. St. Margaret’s is celebrating its 40th anniversary year as a leader in the Orange County community and educational landscape of the nation.

Head of School William N. Moseley joined St. Margaret’s in 2013, and the school has experienced continued and transformative growth and development. In 2016, the Board of Trustees and Mr. Moseley together unveiled a bold and visionary values-based Strategic Plan for the future of the school. The school has utilized design thinking to implement the plan putting students at the center of the innovation process and yielding significant program enhancements, including student health and wellness initiatives, interdisciplinary studies, experiential educational programs, growth of STEAM and entrepreneurship curriculum, and a revamp of the service learning curriculum. The Maseeh Middle School campus and an expansive outdoor campus center, the Highlands Quad, opened in the fall of 2015, and the Johnson Wallis Visual Arts Center opened in August 2017. Mr. Moseley also focused the community on the importance of growing the endowment fund, which has nearly quadrupled to $12.7 million in this time period.

Opened on October 1, 1979, St. Margaret's welcomed 79 students attending kindergarten through grade six in temporary buildings. The Early Childhood School opened in 1981 and by June 1986, when Father Sillers addressed the first graduating class, students were enrolled in early childhood through grade 12.

As an Episcopal school, 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 Ramsay tartan seen in the school uniform and throughout campus.

St. Margaret's welcomed its second headmaster, Markham B. Campaigne, in September 1986. During his 17-year tenure, the school grew to 1,200 students and expanded its traditional mission-styled campus to include new classroom buildings, science labs, athletic facilities, including the Gateway Building, Campaigne Center and a comprehensive library.

A tradition of academic distinction, athletic championships and artistic acclaim grew and has sustained through exceptional professional community, extraordinary students and dedicated families committed to educational excellence and integrity.

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, which opened in 2012.

With technologically-advanced learning environments and a 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 colleges and universities in the nation and around the world, they join more than 2,400 alumni who draw inspiration, purpose and vision from their St. Margaret's foundation as they learn, lead and serve in the world, just as Father Sillers intended 40 years ago.
    • School Ground Breaking

      1979

      School Ground Breaking

    • First Permanent School Building

      1981

      First Permanent School Building

    • SMEC Offices and Second School Building

      1982

      SMEC Offices and Second School Building

    • Sillers Hall Opens

      1985

      Sillers Hall Opens

    • Early Childhood Development Center Opens

      1988

      Early Childhood Development Center Opens

An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California