Cheri Wood, Principal

Humans of SM


Aidan Ocampo

Continuing a long history of Catholic education, Principal Wood steps onto campus with a fresh perspective on student life.

I think I chose Catholic education during my first four years of teaching. I was teaching at Marymount High School and it was run by a sister. At the time I was not Catholic, and I was very confused by the whole experience. As I became a part of the Catholic community, it transformed my life. Then sister wanted me to go to a program at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York, and she wrote a letter of recommendation for being an educational leader. I took that course and I never looked back. Both my parents were teachers, so I kind of knew education, but this was like a whole different thing.

Having had kids, I think I’ve been able to become a little bit more empathetic to the big picture. I realize more now the pressure on students and on parents about ‘What is success? And how are we defining it? Why is everyone supposed to be fitting into this same model of what success is? And how is that making kids feel? And how is it stressing parents out too? How is it manifesting itself in families?’ I feel like I’ve lived that, which makes me more empathetic to it. You can have the knowledge in your head, but if you’ve had some time with it in your life, it makes it easier to understand what people might be going through and less reactive to it. I think it makes a big difference; my kids went to a school very similar to Santa Margarita, so I know the pressures that were in their lives, and how I was like as a parent, and what I needed from the school, and what was realistic for my kids, and what their definition of success was for them. It was hard. I think you [students] live the same thing in a way.