Retiring superintendent puts ‘kids first’
By Natalie Chace, 5th grade student in Wendy Oeser-Rhein’s homeroom, Mill Pond School
Westborough – The experienced mentor, the super superintendent, and the beloved principal, Mrs. Marianne O’Connor, is retiring this year. She, who has spent 22 whole years in the Westborough School District and 30 impressive years in education, is retiring. Leaving. In retirement, Mrs. O’Connor plans to spend more time with her family, her “94-year-young mother,” and grandchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.
Mrs. O’Connor is a five-star woman. She is the kind of person who keeps everyone in line and is full of wisdom—but has a humorous side to her that brings cheer to the room. She describes the Westborough schools as “really good place—there are great people who care and are committed here.” She should know, too. She was a principal at Fales and was the first and opening principal of Mill Pond. “I loved picking out the colors of the walls, hiring the staff, and choosing the tile…” But there were some downsides to opening a school, too–and some funny parts! “I was running around with a mop on the night before Mill Pond opened to the students because it wasn’t ready yet!”
Mrs. O’Connor’s life hero is her grandmother, and it’s simple to understand why! According to Mrs. O’Connor, who told this family story with tears in her eyes, her grandmother came to America when she was 12 years old from Italy, knowing no English at all. Yet, later, she put all of her four children through private colleges in a time where it wasn’t common for people to even think about sending women to college.
Mrs. O’Connor’s advice to the world: “Don’t define yourself by your position, but that you are a human being first. If I walked into a school where a crisis had or was occurring, I would whip my jacket off to help them. Also, if there’s a skunk, say there’s a skunk! Don’t try to avoid the topic until someone else sees it, just yell it out! You and other people will thank you later. The hardest job of being superintendent, and really, any position, is pleasing everyone. If you get more than 50 percent – and really, 51 percent works–you should pat yourself on the back. And, always put kids first!”
Natalie wrote this profile of the retiring superintendent as part of a journalism extracurricular class offered by parents Michelle Grandin and Lisa Chace. It appeared in May issue of The Quill, the newsletter of the Fales Parent Group.
Natalie loves “Frozen, reading,” fan girling, sleeping, minions, neon colors, fashion, and singing. She made the All State Treble Chorus. She hopes to become a teacher someday, and be the one every student wants.
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