About this article
This article was originally published in the September/October 2015 issue of M: North Atlanta magazine, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
Meghan Ammons Hallewell has already managed to accomplish much in her young life.
A 1999 graduate of South Forsyth High, where she was a member of the school’s two-time state champion cheerleading squad, she went on to become a teacher who helped open West Forsyth High.
At West, she started the cheerleading program, which she coached for several years, and also met her future husband. She’s now a mother of two young boys who runs a small business from home.
But it was the education bug that bit first. From the time she was about 10, Hallowell knew she wanted to be a teacher.
“I absolutely loved my fourth-grade teacher at Mashburn Elementary, Mrs. Chris Raynor,” she said. “She was such a big influence in my life and we are still close today.”
Hallewell, who has lived in Forsyth County since age 5, later attended South Forsyth middle and high schools, where she was on the varsity cheerleading team.
“I am competitive by nature and had the most amazing coach, Stacey McDaniel, who is now Stacey McDaniel Daniels.”
Under her leadership, Hallewell and the cheerleaders went on to win state championships in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years. This past May, the team was inducted into South’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the high school.
Almost all of the members were there, including their beloved coach Daniels, who drove with her family from their current home in Florida for the ceremony.
“It is such a great group of women,” Hallewell said of the squad. “We were always close and have remained so.”
Hallewell said Daniels inspired her to want to one day coach high school girls cheerleading. And after graduating from Auburn University, that’s exactly what she did.
As a math education major, Hallewell began her teaching career in 2004 by helping open Alpharetta High School, where she also coached the cheerleading squad.
After a few years, Hallewell returned to her home county and was part of the staff that opened West in 2007. At West, she started and coached the cheerleading program for four years. And it was there that she also met her future husband, James, a special education teacher from England.
“We met on the first day of preplanning at West, and I knew I was going to marry him,” she recalled. “I even remember what he was wearing. He was so good looking, and I loved his accent.”
Her now husband taught special education, with a primary focus in history and science, and also coached tennis. Still at West, he is now the co-chair of the special education department, teaching 11th grade, and serving as assistant golf coach.
The couple dated for two years, keeping their relationship a secret from their students and athletes, before marrying in May 2010. Two years later, they welcomed baby Duncan into their lives. Eighteen months after that, his brother Griffin arrived.
“Things are definitely chaotic at times,” Hallewell said of her family of four. “I feel lucky to have a husband who is so patient and kind. He also has a great sense of humor, which goes a long way when things are crazy.”
Hallewell continued to teach and a year ago started Rose to the Occasion, her own crafting business that specializes in personalizing gifts, including anything monogrammed, wooden signs, key chains and etched glass.
She recently acquired a heat press so she can personalize clothing, onesies, bags, etc.
“I love when customers ask me to create something new for them or to come up with a creative idea on my own,” she said.
Hallewell also organizes “crafting parties.” Ten to 15 women get together and she teaches them how to make a home décor craft they may have thought was too difficult to take on.
“The parties are always a blast, and then everybody leaves with a cool craft they made, plus the knowledge of how to make it,” she said.
According to Hallewell, the gatherings are perfect for a “girls night out” and she is happy to travel to the hostess’ home.
When she first started the business, Hallewell was teaching all day, taking care of her children and then staying up all hours finishing crafts and filling orders. Being “super mom” often takes its toll and it wasn’t long before she realized something needed to change.
“It was a difficult decision since I love teaching so much,” she said. “But ultimately, we felt I needed to take a break from my career for the time being.”
She knows one day she will return to the classroom. For now, however, it has been the best decision for the family. And it is family that is of paramount importance to the Hallewells.
Though her in-laws live in Snellville, many of her husband’s other relatives are overseas.
“I have been with him to visit family in England four times and Duncan has been with us three of those,” she said. “Griffin went for the first time this past summer.”
Hallewell said they also visit with her mother’s side of the family on Harsen’s Island, Mich., every summer. Her grandmother, Rose Bianchini, recently celebrated her 91st birthday. “[She] has two cottages there and we love to spend about three weeks there visiting.”
She also is also to her parents, Forsyth County residents Ann and Charles Ammons. Many readers may remember the Ammons as the owners of Deckers restaurant from 1988-2004 and later Deckers Express. Hallewell, an only child, said she can’t imagine not having them close by.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today without my parents,” she said. “They have always been my biggest support system, my cheerleaders and my biggest fans.
“Family is really everything to us, so I feel incredibly blessed to have both of our families so close. I love that they are also such a big part of our children’s lives.”