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A Voice of Encouragement

Margaret Cheeley has the best personal motto. She says she strives to “B-positive,” like her bloodtype.

It’s straight-forward, simple to do, easy to remember. And so important.

The Lawrenceville resident has dedicated herself to being a source of encouragement to those she comes into contact with. Cheeley recently retired from a 30-year career as a professional school counselor, during which she served Dyer and McKendree Elementary Schools, Lawrenceville/Creekland Middle School and Collins Hill High School. Her work required a vast knowledge of countless things–from ADHD, anorexia/bulimia, physical/sexual/emotional abuse and auditory/visual hallucinations to SAT/ACT testing, college recommendations and scholarship information. Cheeley also hosted “ParenTVision” through GCPS TV, which presented various topics and promoted ways that parents could be supportive of their kids.

She says she started in the school system as a graduation coach, working with those students in need of support. “It was my job to motivate, to encourage, to inspire them, to do everything I could to help them pass that class and not give up but to work toward graduation,” Cheeley says.

Refusing to refer to them as at-risk but rather at-potential kids, she worked to push them to reach their goals and graduate from high school. She had the opportunity to see the culmination of her efforts, as many of the students were those she’d known since elementary school.

Encouragement was tantamount, she says. “Helping them see that yes, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, was so important.”

Her professional history is littered with awards, honors, affiliations, publications, leadership roles, presentations and speaking engagements, many of which she does offering inspiration as a 23-year breast cancer survivor. Cheeley is not only a powerhouse of motivation with an infectious laugh but she has That Voice that is easily recognizable as an on-air personality for 104.7 The Fish.

She says the station promotes random acts of kindness, such as paying for the person behind you in line. It’s unexpected surprises like these that keep people believing in and encouraging each other.

“It shows you that there are good people in this world who care and support and love one another even in the midst of everything going on today. Radio has been a wonderful avenue by which to facilitate that,” she says. ”People call in all the time with shout-outs to family members and to other listeners. People will call with personal issues or I’ll get a call from someone who appreciates the show. It’s kind of like a ministry.”

Not many would almost look at cancer as a sort of blessing, but not many are like Margaret Cheeley. She encourages others to find beauty in things, to celebrate diversity and embrace those differences that make us unique.

“Cherish each moment. Appreciate things around you and have a good attitude. That’s what my experience with cancer did for me,” she says. “Grab each day and acknowledge it and how awesome it is. Show your appreciation for being alive in that moment!”