By Raquel Kanner
Starting this summer, there has been a new face at BHHS: our new Assistant Principal, Ms. O’Connor. Although a familiar face at this point in the year, many students have not had the opportunity to speak with this amiable and kind member of our community. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mrs. O’Connor and speak with her about her previous working experiences and her thoughts about BHHS.
Prior to her arrival at Byram, Ms. O’Connor was most recently an Assistant Principal down the road at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua. Before that, she worked in an alternative school in Brooklyn, which is a school for students aged 16-20, where the students were in danger of dropping out of high school. “The school was very focused on the social and emotional well-being of the students, as they struggled to get by academically.” Although a special education teacher there during the school’s opening, she was quickly promoted to Assistant Principal. Her working experience does not stop there; before that, “[she] taught Language Arts at an all-boys school in Massachusetts.”
Ms. O’Connor cannot wait for the remainder of the school year, and she already feels the sense of camaraderie from the Byram community. “I’ve really loved being at Byram so far. Everybody, from day one, has been so warm and welcoming. From sending out my initial emails to meet people in the community to having them explain what the school is like, everyone has been taking the time to get to know me and tell me about the community. I think students in every interaction have been incredibly thoughtful in expressing their opinions and asking questions. The teachers have been very thoughtful in their planning and in their approach to students. I’ve been really impressed by how much teachers care about the students as a whole person, not just the coursework and grades. The families that I’ve interacted with so far have been so lovely. I think it’s clear that everyone really values this school system.”
It is clear that Ms. O’Connor is welcomed by all, but she still wants to get to know the most important piece to the community: the students. She candidly said that “[she] know[s] the role of an Assistant Principal has a certain reputation at times, but the reason [she’s] here and [she] wants to be here is to spend time with students and to get to know them. The students here really care about the school and care about making it the best they can, and even through the enthusiasm and school spirit during the pep rally, it was clear that everyone feels part of a collective group of individuals.” One of the highlights of her job and something she looks forward to the most is going into the classroom to see the work that the students are doing. “Going into the classroom, to me, is the best part of my job, and even to get out of my office in any capacity is always great.” Also, because Ms. O’Connor is the head of clubs and activities for this year, “[she] really want[s] to make it a priority to try to go to some meetings and activities that occur throughout the year — it is really a great way to get to know students.”
Ms. O’Connor clearly dedicates her time into BHHS, but outside of school, her life revolves around her family. She has three little kids, aged six, three, and almost two, and outside of work, “[she] spend[s] a lot of time running around after them.” Before she started a family, however, “[she] really loved to go camping, backpacking, and hiking.” Now that her kids are a little older, her family tries to go hiking every weekend. Additionally, “[her] family just got a dog, so [they’re] spending a lot of time with the dog, too.”
Even through a short ten-minute conversation, it is evident that Ms. O’Connor is a great addition to our community. She is thoughtful, compassionate, and kind, but most importantly, she cares about the students. Ms. O’Connor wants to get to know all of the students, so if anyone has time available in their schedules, she hopes to schedule times to meet with many of our students. She last said, “I’m just very happy to be here. My husband tells me everyday that I come home with a big smile on my face. I’ve just been really happy here. Through the students, teachers, parents, and the whole Byram community, I feel so welcomed by everyone.” On behalf of everyone at BHHS, we welcome Ms. O’Connor with open arms, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for her!