Featured Educator: Robert O’Connell – Be Interested in Students’ Lives


One of this year’s recipients of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards, Robert O’Connell teaches mathematics at Longmeadow High School.  His dedication to his craft and his passion – a word often used by these honored educators – for mathematics are evident in responses he gave to the following questions:

What motivated you to become a teacher/educator? I have a passion for the subject of mathematics, and I wanted to share my knowledge with high school students. In addition, I was graduating from UMass, and I needed a job.

What keeps you enthusiastic about teaching/education, and where do you find inspiration?  The students inspire me everyday with their thirst for knowledge and desire to learn. I enjoy applying new technology and techniques to my craft.

Who has been a role model for you and why?  Many of my colleagues have served as role models for me. Susan Peters showed me how to enrich my instruction with fun side topics in mathematics. Jessica Moore continues to show me ways to be a more effective teacher. Scott Little has mentored me for many years.

What do you find helps you to effectively interact with students?  A fair knowledge of current events, popular culture, music, movies, and television combined with treating students fairly and with respect has helped me interact effectively with my students.

Do you have a favorite resource, website, lesson/activity that you’d like to share?  I utilize a variety of resources including education.ti.com , nytimes.com , pbs.org, and npr.org.

What is some of the best advice you’ve been given? Many teachers have advised me to take an interest in my students accomplishments outside of the classroom. Students respond well to teachers who are interested in the lives of their students.

We’d also be interested to hear how you’d answer of these questions?

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