If at any time I can be of service to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone. We are here to work together with you in order to help your child reach his or her full potential.
Greg Fox, Principal
O’Connell Elementary School serves approximately 510 children in Kindergarten through grade six. Students have access to a well-equipped library, cafeteria, gymnasium, art and music rooms. Two laptop carts and computer labs provide students with access to the Internet. Children receive support services from a school psychologist, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, special education staff, tutors, and a literacy coach. Special in-school programs for students identified as Gifted and Talented as well as instruction in band and strings takes place during school hours. Remedial reading support is also available for at-risk students. The school also has a Student Support Center. Lastly, ongoing professional development provides staff with the ability to meet the diverse needs of all students.
We are extremely interested in promoting strong character. School rules were developed in order to create a more positive school climate. Students are recognized for their positive contributions to the school through P.B.I.S. (Positive Behavior Intervention Support Program). The four school rules make up the acronym ROAR—Respectful, Offer Kindness, Act Safely, and Responsible. This was specifically designed to go along with our mascot, Thomas the Tiger.
O’Connell is a diverse school with a student body consisting of approximately 1/3 Caucasians, 1/3 Hispanics and 1/3 African Americans. In an effort to reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation, teachers have received Responsive Classroom training. Along with P.B.I.S., these programs stress the importance of diversity, what it means to be a productive member of the community, and why it is important to value the contributions of people from different backgrounds.
In addition, our curriculum is rich with multicultural literature and activities that expose students to diversity and teach the children to appreciate and value other cultures. Teachers introduce students to Native American, African American and Hispanic cultures through field trips, guest speakers, and discussions/celebrations in the classroom. Third grade students research their own history for a unit on family and heritage. Our School Improvement Plan also addresses the achievement gap for all of our student subgroup populations.
Our students and staff are committed to supporting our local community. Three times each year our C.A.R.E. Committee sponsors food and toy drives that directly benefit our families in need. Students eagerly provide the necessary supplies to make this drive a huge success. This teaches the students the importance of sharing and giving to those less fortunate. We have recently formed a partnership with a school in a neighboring town and the Discovery Center. This award-winning program provides an opportunity to participate in hands-on learning in mathematics and science while specializing in diversity training.
O’Connell School is committed to supporting the family’s role in the education of our students. One of the focus areas in our School Improvement Plan addresses parent and community involvement. To that end we keep data on the number of parents that attend school events such as Open House and Parent-Teacher Conferences.
Recently our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) voted to become a Parent Teacher Association (
Finally, teachers respond to parents concerns via newsletters, phone calls and communication books. We make a concentrated effort to make families who are not fluent in English feel welcome by translating handbooks and letters into Spanish and by providing translators at parent-teachers conferences, PPTs, and other meetings.
O’Connell’s School Improvement Plan encompasses the academic, physical and social needs of our students. We have developed specific academic goals to improve the reading, writing and mathematics achievement of our students. Additionally, we are faithfully attempting to close the achievement gap that exists between our identified subgroups—which include black, white, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students. While our special education population is too small to qualify as a subgroup for the purposes of NCLB (No Child Left Behind), we continue to write specific goals to increase the percentage of students meeting proficiency standards at each grade level. With the support of the Center for Performance Assessment, our staff has been trained in Data-Driven Decision Making, Making Standards Work, Data Teams and Effective Teaching Strategies.
In addition to developing students with strong academic skills, we teach our students about the importance of being good citizens. To this end we have teachers trained in the use of Responsive Classroom and utilize problem-solving programs such as Second Step to teach our students to be responsible citizens. Through the use of our school’s P.B.I.S. team we have developed school-wide rules and analyze student and parent surveys in order to identify our school’s strengths and areas for growth.
Addressing the physical needs of the students is also important. The initiatives we have started in recent years tie directly to the academic and social goals of our school. We recognize the connection between mind and body and are truly dedicated to developing both. Our Recess Before Lunch program has been successful at getting children to eat more of their lunch, thereby maximizing nutritional intake. The program promotes increased physical activity during recess while saving precious instructional time. The staff has also received training in 6-Steps to a Trouble-free Playground. As part of this initiative, children were taught a variety of games they could play at recess that promote physical activity and cooperation.