“Where do I know this man from?” is not an unusual thought when meeting Zachary McQuigg the first time.
His relaxed, laid back, ‘let’s talk attitude’ sends the impression you’ve already met.
The new Myrtle Beach High School principal is no stranger to the school or to the kids either. He’s been one of the assistant principals there for five years.
While he’d hoped his application for principal would be accepted, he didn’t know he’d step into that role until just a few weeks before school started.
So, one of his main priorities as the school year starts is “playing catch-up,” he says.
Another, longer-term goal is to create a family atmosphere for the students. That already exists for the staff, he says, but he wants the kids to have a sense of that also.
From there, McQuigg wants that mindset to extend to the community.
“We have tremendous athletic support here, and we
want to see that happen academically too,” he says.
Married to Lacey McQuigg for about 12 years, the Conway couple has two children.
With a 6-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son, McQuigg says they’re a family of homebodies.
“Our 1-year-old is a busy little guy, so it’s hard to get into much else besides our family. When we’re together, we try to make the most of it.”
After growing up outside Baltimore, Maryland with two brothers, McQuigg went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia where he majored in business administration, and later got his master’s degree from Arkansas State University.
He met his wife, who grew up in Conway, in college, and he moved to this area in 2002.
When McQuigg came to South Carolina, he worked for a flooring company, eventually starting his own flooring business.
He missed sports, because he and his siblings had always played, and he’d coached in college.
“I can count on one hand the practices or games any of us were involved in that my parents didn’t go to,” he says.
So, he started coaching football at Carolina Forest High School, and “fell in love with working with the kids,” and realized he had a profound impact on them.
He started substitute teaching, and with a long-term position at Black Water Middle School teaching math, continued to coach at the high school. He got his teaching certificate, and got a job teaching at Carolina Forest High School where he was already coaching basketball.
He actually brought the lacrosse program, which he also coached, to the high school, and after about a year, took an assistant principal position at Myrtle Beach High School.
Teaching and coaching at the same time allowed him to have a substantial impact on the kids, and he says, “The pieces just fell together for me.”
The effect McQuigg wants to have, and the influence he wants to be, is that of a male figure the kids can depend on.
“A lot of our kids don’t have a strong male in their lives they can count on to set an example. I want to be that person who cares about them beyond the athletic field and beyond the classroom,” he says.
“I want to be a constant figure in their lives who they know cares about them.”
What high school kids need, he says, is the same thing all kids need.
“That’s stability,” he says. “Someone they know is going to do what’s right, regardless of the situation.”
The former principal, John Washburn, was promoted to the school district’s director for accountability and instruction.