We are featuring 3 Heritage High School graduates this month with our Alumni Spotlight, with Heritage elementary teacher Megan Riggs Desmond responding to some questions we asked about her time at Heritage and also her college, work, and family since graduating, very interesting.
Her brothers, Darin and Matt, are entrepreneurs like their dad, Dennis, and mom, Marcia, and have started Riggs Brewing on Route 130 in Urbana. Visit their web site for more information at http://www.riggsbeer.com/.
Questions and responses from Megan:
What schooling did you do since you graduated from Heritage? What years were your graduates and who were some classmates and teachers you remember specially?
After graduating from Heritage in 2005, I attended Parkland College for 2 years. I transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to finish up my bachelor’s in Elementary Education. I played softball at both Parkland and UMSL.
I remember all of my teachers and classmates very well. That is one of the many perks of going to a small school. I feel like I had a positive relationship with all of my teachers, but the ones who impacted me the most were the ones who made a great effort to get to know me as a person, more than a student. I was very driven to play softball at a collegiate level, so I remember Mr. (coach) Taylor who never let me slack off in his classes. Mr. McCleary helped me to stay afloat and encouraged me a lot when I felt completely overwhelmed by all the extra curricular activities I had going on, on top of my schoolwork. Mrs. Knott put up with my goofiness during practices. Mrs. Zell and Mrs. Roy allowed me to pace the back of the classroom during lectures because I had a hard time sitting still. Mrs. Kohlbecker always challenged me to defend my opinions and think outside the box.
I communicate with a large number of classmates and keep up with them easily through social media. 3 of my high school friends were in my wedding. I currently teach with another Heritage classmate, Allison (Smith) Lowe, which is really fun.
What experiences outside the classroom do you remember from your days at Heritage, sports, activities, clubs, etc?
I was involved in many different activities and clubs during high school, all of which kept me extremely busy (which I loved). Basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, softball, FCA, FFA, pep band, and the play are some I can recall off the top of my head. When I wasn’t at a practice, game, or event myself, I was cheering on our other teams. I can remember one day, specifically, having softball open gym at 6:30am, school from 8-3, then basketball practice, and play practice from 7-9 afterwards. I enjoyed all the different activities, and truly appreciated the opportunity to be involved in so many at once.
What did you do after graduation with schooling, life experiences that led you to where you are today?
A chain of events led me to finish my Education degree in St. Louis, to student teach in St. Charles, Missouri, buy a house near St. Charles, and then sell it a year later to move back home. While in St. Louis at UMSL, I met my husband, Geoff, who is originally from Danville, IL. We lived in St. Louis for about 5 years. Life in the “big city” was full of new adventures, and we enjoyed it so much we bought a house in St. Peters, MO thinking we might want to live there for the long run. Then you could say we both realized “there’s no place like home”, especially when thinking about how and where we wanted our kids to be raised. I remember the evening Geoff and I decided we’d begin our journey to find jobs and move back home because I called a coworker to ask about job openings in the area, and learned about an elementary job here at Heritage posted the same day. I believe God had a hand in leading us back to this area by opening doors to get here. There is no doubt that was the best decision for us to make.
What role did your family and now significant others/spouse play in what you have accomplished?
My mom, dad, and two brothers have helped me dive into all opportunities life has presented by supporting every decision I’ve made. Growing up in the Riggs household, standards were set very high. Dad worked hard to give us kids the choice to pursue many different avenues from farming, the ice cream business, mowing business, and odd jobs at the rental properties our family owned. Mom was the glue that kept everything together at home. She worked part-time as a nurse at Carle, and was head in charge of day to day activities involving us kids. My brothers both accomplished a lot at young ages, which helped strive for success in each phase of my life.
My husband Geoff has the same family values I do, so coming back to this area to be closer to both of our families was an easy decision for both him and me. Geoff and I had a somewhat similar background through our love of softball/ baseball. He’s the counterpart I needed and he balances out my flaws. He is flexible and keeps us laughing through each day.
What led all of you to come back, Megan to teaching at Heritage, and Matt and Darin to open a business in Champaign County?
My family (both current and future) was the number 1 reason for coming back to this area. I had a wonderful upbringing in this area, this school, and at the farm. Geoff and I wanted the same for our (then future) children.
I really enjoy teaching here at Heritage. I’ve taught at a few other great schools, but the biggest negative about where I used to teach was the size of the schools. I knew the kids in my own class, and a few others in the grade level I taught, but there were many kids who attended the school who I wouldn’t even recognize in public because of the sheer number of students. At Heritage, I’m able to have relationships with kids in every grade level (K-8). After I spend a year with the kids in my class, I enjoy reconnecting with them in the following years because I see them in the halls, at morning assembly, during lunch/recess, or even in an RTI group in my classroom. I enjoy attending sporting events when my past students get into Jr. High. Depending on the year, I have had many or all of them in my room as a student.
In a few years, our kids will attend Heritage. Geoff and I want the very best for them, and we’re excited that they’ll be brought up in this community and school. I think that speaks volumes for the Heritage district and surrounding communities.
What advice can you give to today’s Heritage students who will hopefully soon be graduates on what they can do to prepare for life beyond K-12 school?
Become as well rounded as you can, by experiencing as much you can. Take advantage of the opportunities to be involved in many extra-curricular activities at Heritage. Keep in mind the bigger picture and don’t get too wrapped up in one person or one situation. You’ll go through a lot of change in the next few years. Stay off of your phone and connect with people face to face. Treat everyone with kindness because it truly is a small world and connections you make now can open doors for you in the future. Be proud and thankful for your upbringing in this community. Do what you can to support our local businesses, so our area can prosper for years to come.