Meghan Agresto wears a number of different hats. She is the Site Manager for the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, and she is one of the founding members and President of the Board of Water’s Edge Village School (K-6 charter school) where she teaches Spanish. Meghan and Luis, the lighthouse Keeper, have resided in Corolla with their children for eleven years.
“I love it,” she says. “I like having enough work to spend February in Corolla thinking over the meaning of life.” Meghan thinks fast, speaks quickly and seems to find humor is most situations. Understanding her background, her developed sense of humor is no surprise. Before relocating to the Outer Banks she had worked in areas that brought her in contact with some of the most challenging elements of society.
“I have a master’s degree in social work, and I started in a direct practice,” she explains. “I transferred to a macro concentration which was related to nonprofit management, and I loved it. I understood this was where I belonged.”
Meghan and Luis didn’t immediately pick up and move to the Outer Banks. There were an additional two years where she continued working in her profession which were satisfying and a bit stressful. “I was living in Chapel Hill where I worked for four years at a domestic violence organization. I was their Spanish interpreter and court translator, so I carried a pager at all times,” she explains, adding, “There’s a certain level of burnout in this field of work.”
She knew the previous Currituck Beach Lighthouse site manager, so when she heard the position was available, Meghan knew it was time to make a move. “We were living above a parking lot in Chapel Hill with a one year old child who was refusing to eat,” she says.
The first year was a leap of faith. “When they hired us, we were told funding for the position may run out in a year,” she recalls, but they recognized a year away from the stresses of city life would benefit them all. “Quite simply, the idea of being near the water and trees seemed a healthier environment for my kid.” That one year has since turned into eleven, and she holds a deep love for her adopted town.
As her oldest son was approaching school age, Meghan came face to face with a reality that confronts every parent of school-aged children in Corolla—her son would be on a bus for three and a half hours to attend school on the mainland of Currituck County.
“That was definitely a ‘see a need, fill a need’ moment,” she says. Meghan pauses and laughs a bit as she recalls those days. “I came in with both feet and made things happen because I needed it to happen for my child.”
It wasn’t just Meghan who wanted her child educated in the village. Sylvia Wolff, who had an elementary education teaching license, was another resident with soon-to-be-school age children. At that time, Sylvia worked in Corolla as the head of Ocean Rescue, and she had a vision for a school that could thrive in Corolla. These two mothers began by recruiting the talent required to create a charter school.
Corolla is a unique town and so are the residents. The majority of the permanent population is retired with the majority of retirees coming from professional, highly skilled positions. “We were surprised at the level of talent in Corolla and tapped into those who were not overworked and available to us,” Meghan says.
The evolution of Water’s Edge Village School is an excellent example of what happens when a community comes together in support of their youth. The school is located in what once was the Corolla Schoolhouse. There are approximately 30 students in attendance from grades K-6, and there are plans for expansion this year to include the 7th grade.
To Meghan the one-on-one attention received at the charter school is a major part of her children’s success. “I want them to receive individualized attention from their teachers. Friends of ours from Chapel Hill ask, ‘He’s not taking Chinese? He hasn’t seen a ballet? He’s not joined any character building teams?’” She listens, but Meghan’s not buying into their argument. “We’re comfortable being free range parents and it appears to be working for our kids,” she says.
Meghan has no plans to move away from the Outer Banks anytime soon. “I’m happy to stay for as long as they’ll have me. My goal is for our kids to graduate high school from here,” she says. “Since I’ve become a parent I have little time to overthink situations. Typically action is required, and I just love it!”