Meet Amy O'Connor, Principal
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I know that many of those who will read this letter know me, and in fact have known me for years. But can you ever truly know everything about someone? I firmly believe that there is more we can learn about one another every day, through every interaction…as long as we are open to truly listening.
As a young child I played school alone and with friends almost every day…like most children. I had a briefcase that contained my most important teacher “stuff” and even took over a few of my Mom’s kitchen cabinets when my case could no longer hold all that was essential. For a few years in high school I shifted my focus and was interested in law school; but through my coursework in college I came back to where I knew should have been all long – education. I attended Eastern Illinois University’s Early Childhood program and then University of Illinois Chicago for my Administrative certificate.
Throughout my years in school I found ways to always be around young children. Through babysitting, working at a daycare center and teaching after school classes I kept myself involved with the age groups I craved most….Early Childhood students. In September of 1995 I began teaching Kindergarten at Nathan Davis in the Brighton Park area and stayed there for five years. I might still be there today if I hadn’t heard about a new Early Childhood program that would be opening soon in my community. For the first time I heard two words that would change my life, Barbara Vick.
In 1997 while in grad school and teaching Kindergarten I married my husband; whom I have known my entire life. It’s hard to believe that we are celebrating 20 years of marriage this year…..somehow I don’t feel that old. We had some struggles initially starting a family and then went on to have four amazing children: Aidan (15), Hannah (13), Nora (9) and Abby (7). Each of our children attended Barbara Vick and are thriving in their educational and social lives. My experiences in parenting each of our children taught me more about children and specifically about educating children than I could ever learn in books. Being their Mom is the great joy of my life, and has allowed me the experience to support other families when necessary.
I applied for a teaching position at Barbara Vick and was fortunate enough to be one of the first teachers hired. For close to twelve years I was a full-time teaching Assistant Principal and for the past six I have co-led our two sites.
I have always considered myself to be a people person. I enjoy getting to know new people and deepening existing relationships with those around me. I believe that any organization is only as strong as its members; my focus is that the people of Barbara Vick (students, staff, and families) feel supported, trusted and believed in. I strive to create an environment where feelings are shared openly and honestly and problems can be solved with team work and collaboration. This philosophy has served me well in my role; especially when working across two campuses. The students, staff and families across our two sites may be different in many ways, but the similarity of being present for the children remains a unifying trait.
As a student of the Reggio philosophy since the 1990s I have had many years to solidify my thoughts and beliefs about young children and how to best support their learning. My image of children is that they come to us as knowledgeable citizens of the world, and it’s our responsibility as adults in their lives to provide experiences which will support their growth and learning. Whether a child is considered to be typically developing, a diverse learner or has a home language other than English; the environments and experiences that our classrooms provide will support their growth and development.
I am an avid reader, and will often be in the middle of several books at once. I have the problem of not being able to put a book down without finishing it….even when it’s not very good. I love sharing new children’s literature with staff members when they are beginning a new study or investigation. It’s one of the many things I love about my job.
I am admittedly a bit of a tech geek. I feel very strongly about integrating technology into our classrooms, though I often struggle with what that looks like. There is an appropriate level of technology that should be used in early childhood classrooms; but it can look differently across classrooms and with individual children.
I have lived in the Beverly/Mt. Greenwood community my entire life and am deeply committed to the neighborhood and the issues within it. I am an active supporter of several local and civic organizations and am very involved with the Live Like John Pediatric Brain Tumor foundation. So many young children in our community have been affected by pediatric brain tumors and we work to bring families together for a united approach to fundraising, advocacy, and awareness events.
As with anyone there are many layers to who I am that could never be covered in a simple introduction letter; they would be shown through interactions and shared experiences. I hope to have the opportunity to share future experiences, and thus more of who I am, with all of you.