Marguerite Hagan gives back to nurture the value of a good education
Of all of life’s gifts Marguerite Hagan has received, faith, a loving husband, successful children, plenty of small, smiling grandchildren; the best gift she ever received was a good education. And in return she’s spent the rest of her life in dozens of classrooms sharing that gift.
“We value the importance of education and what a difference it can make in your life. I think for us, when we were able to financially support Oregon State we looked at the departments that meant the most to us, mine being the College of Education,” Hagen said.
Alongside being a pillar in her own classrooms and her children’s classrooms, Hagen’s generosity toward the College of Education has been vital to the success of its students and budding teachers, like she once was.
Hagen grew up on her family’s farm in the town of Enterprise, Oregon. She and three of her four siblings attended Oregon State; her older sister attended nursing school.
Her parents attended Oregon State for a couple years as well, before her father enlisted and upon his return married Hagen’s mother. Having grown up visiting campus to see her sisters and hearing stories about Oregon State, Hagen said campus already felt like home by the time she came to Oregon State.
Hagen graduated from Oregon State in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Health. As early as freshman year, she was involved in hands-on teaching experiences through the College of Education. She would help set up reading programs at a local school in Peoria, Oregon.
She said she felt very welcomed at the College of Education, where she found the programs and activities to be personalized to students’ needs, and helpful in guiding her toward the direction she wanted to go.
Her sophomore and junior years were spent in the Corvallis School District, and in her senior year she taught in the Portland Public School District.
“I felt like they really prepared you for the classroom. You can read in a textbook, but it’s the personal experience that makes a difference. Having that experience early on in a classroom setting and being around other teachers, getting their perspective, really helped me,” she said.
Among the livelihood of springtime in Corvallis, Hagen met her husband Ron Hagen. During the last term of her senior year, Hagen’s friends had arranged a blind date that involved pizza at a friend’s house and a friend-of-a-friend she “had to meet.”
Marguerite and Ron bonded over both being one of five siblings, small Oregon towns, and their outdoorsy lifestyles. The two have been married for 43 years, and have three children that all attended Oregon State.
“Well, 43 years later, I guess it was meant to be. We’re really proud of that,” Hagen said.
Upon graduation, Hagen moved up to Portland, Oregon where she taught 3rd grade at St. Thomas More Catholic School. Being her first full-time teaching gig, she enjoyed how involved the families were with the children in her classroom, and learned how important it is to have a supportive family structure behind young students.
“When I was teaching, a supportive family made such a difference for the students. You want a teacher who really helps the families understand how the child is learning. It’s just teamwork,” she said.
Hagen carried this knowledge along with her to Eugene, Oregon, where she and her husband moved after getting married a year later. In Eugene, she taught 4th grade at O’Hara Catholic School. After 7 years of teaching, Hagen became a full-time mother and remained active in the community learning new skills.
Hagen had her three children; however, she never really left the classroom. From elementary to high school, she was involved in her children’s classrooms as a volunteer and worked at the Career Center at their high school.
Being in the classroom always meant more to her than being a teacher. At the Career Center she helped students navigate financial burdens, and find pathways toward continuing their education.
“One of the things that I think is important is that kids from the rural communities can be aware of these things,” Hagen said. “Sometimes you don’t know what kinds of scholarships are available, and we hope that that’s available to all kinds of students and schools.”
Hagen hopes that the current and future students of the College of Education will find that teaching is rooted in genuine care for their students.
“You hope that teachers will be unlocking the potential of each student. You want people who are dedicated to the field of education. My hope is that teachers are passionate about what they do and that it’s not just a job,” she said.
Now Hagen is a grandmother of many. She jokes about having “her own preschool” made up of all her grandchildren, and continues to volunteer weekly in their classrooms reading to the students and finding creative activities for the students to learn from, like crafting birdhouses.
Looking back at all that has led her to a big family of Oregon State students, and a preschool of grandchildren, her appreciation for the education she received at Oregon State is why Hagen chooses to give back to the College of Education.
“Getting an education really changed my life, and I think my husband would agree. It changed our lives. And we see that with our children now and even our grandchildren; the importance of a good education. It matters, and it means a lot,” she said.