LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Marnie O'Connor

Position: Life Skills Support Teacher
School: Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 School
School District: Pittsburgh Public School District
City, State: Pittsburgh, PA

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Music that Describes Marnie

Marnie O'Connor was nominated by her spouse, Daniel O'Connor.

Mrs. O'Connor has been teaching for 19 years.  Her passion for teaching seems to increase each year, as she goes out and makes a difference in the lives of the students at her school. Mrs. O'Connor is a special education teacher, teaching Life Skills Support at Arsenal Middle School in the city of Pittsburgh. She also serves as the building union representative and the special education Instructional Team Leader. In addition to this, she is constantly trying to think of ways she can help raise money for her school so that the students can benefit from extra incentives. Over the course of many years, Mrs. O'Connor has received a Distinguished rating as a teacher, the highest rating a teacher can receive in her district.

Mrs. O'Connor truly cares about her students and works hard to give them a variety of opportunities and volunteer experiences in the community.  She and her students volunteer at Canterbury Place, a local assisted living facility.  She helped write a grant to Grow Pittsburgh that was approved, adding to the garden area that she already had built with her students.  Her class grows vegetables and cooks meals out of what they grow. She has planted flowers throughout the community through Western PA Conservancy and cleaned trash at Arsenal Park. She has also volunteered with her students at The Ronald McDonald House, Thriftique, and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

In addition to providing volunteer opportunities, Mrs. O'Connor truly cares for the well being of all of her students.  She is beyond caring and empathetic. She is often getting help from friends and family to provide clothing and furniture for students in need at her school. Mrs. O'Connor even gets people to help her deliver the furniture to their homes. At Christmas, she gets many volunteers to help her provide true Christmas/Christmas Eve dinners to students in need, as well as food to eat for that week's vacation.

Mrs. O'Connor has spent many sleepless nights worrying about her students.  She does whatever she can to help them and make sure they feel loved and cared for.  She helps them fill out applications for summer jobs, and the students continue to come back to her for help many years after she has taught them.  Mrs. O'Connor has helped former students secure jobs, assisted with homeless students' laundry, and has taken them to Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood and Childrens' Hospital when needed. She goes above and beyond without a doubt.

Last year, Mrs. O'Connor had major surgery on her foot.  She had to stay off of her foot and miss work, and she couldn't wait to return. She would have made more money staying home, but she chose to return to work on a knee scooter instead of staying at home.

"Marnie is so dedicated to her students and is definitely a LifeChanger," said Mr. O'Connor.

Comments (14)

Cassandra Rosser Posted 4 days ago

I am so lucky to have worked with Marnie O’Connor for the past 4 years. Not only does she go above and beyond for her students, but she is also a great coworker. Mrs. O’Connor’s passion for her job is evident in her everyday interactions with her students. Mrs. O’Connor teaches students with special needs In our school’s Life Skills Classroom. She teacher her students everyday skills to help prepare them to become as independent as possible as they get older. Mrs. O’Connor’s class maintains our school garden and will then use the vegetables grown in cooking lessons she does with her students. Mrs. O’Connor also has students in her class go out in the community and volunteer at nursing homes or thrift shops. Parents of Mrs. O’Connor’s students have said, their child didn’t start learning until they were in her class. Mrs. O’Connor empowers and gives her students confidence to overcome both academic and social challenges they experience. Mrs. O’Connor advocates for all of her students past/present. She helps them get jobs and/or find the best educational setting to meet their needs. For Thanksgiving and Christmas Mrs. O’Connor will collect donations and then take meals to our students and their families for the holidays. Mrs. O’Connor is an amazing teacher who helps make a difference in our students lives. Mrs. O’Connor is truly a lifechanger and she deserves this award!

Sediah Harris Posted 2 months ago

Words from Jaekwon Johnson her old student who she taught in middle school. He said she was the best teacher ever and she got him ready for high school which he graduated in June 2016.

Cara Conners Posted 2 months ago

I have never seen a more kind hearted person, and so compassionate about her work and people involved as this amazing woman Marnie O'connor. The statement going above and beyond surpasses what she does for her students, collecting donations year round, making sure they are staying on track and this is for her present and past students as well. I truly believe she is well deserving of this award for her selfless commitment to her community and students.

Kathy Schauer Posted 2 months ago

Marnie is my daughter she gives 110 percent to her students and family. She goes out of her way to help anyone in need Marnie has helped so many students and volunteers for so many school programs.Marnie truly is lifechanger of the year

Sharon Posted 2 months ago

Marnie is has been one of my best friends for over 20 years... she has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is always giving to her school, students, family and friends. She is so unselfish with everything she does (too much to list both professionally and personally) and she inspires me to be a better person. Marnie truly loves and cares for her students, school, community, family and friends. Without ANY hesitation I can say say she deserves this award and she should be honored for all the lives she has changed. ??

Mrs Paulette Foster Posted 2 months ago

Marnie O'Connor was a lifeline for a young boy heading into middle school. Marnie is a fabulous loving, caregiving life skills teacher. All the comments describes her greatly, she goes beyond what she is required to do and it is so beneficial to the students and their families. My nephew who Marnie had in her classroom, showed to him true authentic concern of how she would teach children with exceptionalities. She drew out of him the gifts and talents that were hidden and she did it with so much love and compassion, it is no wonder she is the instructional team leader. When it comes special education in her school she is a prime example of how to thoroughly engage the whole student to achieve their greatest potential. It is my honor to leave a comment because she made middle school a success and has changed my nephew's life thoroughly. Her presence has made a difference in our lives. Congratulations on the nomination

Lyvonne Hickman Posted 2 months ago

This is so exciting. No one deserves this more than you. During the childhood years you taught my son Donnie Baynes how to be a productive member of society and not to let him let his Autism define who he was. My husband Curtis (who is now deceased) were so very appreciative of all that you had our son accomplish. He went from that shy little boy wearing funny hats to hide his face to the wonderful grown young man he is today. He graduated with high honors and will be 21 years old and continues to work at RMU in Moon Township. Your such a loving, caring, patient and most compassionate person I know. We knew you were the right teacher for our son when he told us he had the best teacher ever. I tell everyone who asks that their child could never have a better teacher than you. We just love you so much!!!!! Congratulations on your nomination.. good luck....

Gholamreza Zakeri Posted 2 months ago

I have a child who was one of Ms. O'Connor's student for some years. The only thing that I can say is in all of my life I didn't see any teacher kindness and works hard with the students like she. I wish one day my other son be her student also.

Christie R Brimmeier Posted 2 months ago

Marnie is not only a family member, she is an amazing friend, mentor, active community member, mother and life skills teacher. Marnie places those in need before her own needs and donates much of her free time to this cause. Marnie arranges and delivers turkey dinners during the Thanksgiving holiday for families and is continually collecting clothes and furniture for families in need in the community. Marnie adores her job as a life skills teacher and goes above and beyond ensuring that her students are receiving the best education possible and utilizes all resources that she has available for her classroom. Marnie also develops positive, long lasting relationships with her students the extends beyond graduation and into adulthood. I believe that Marnie is well deserving of this award for all of her wonderful and kind contributions to her students and the community.

Mahboubeh Hedayati Posted 2 months ago

Mrs. O’connor Is the best, kindness and amazing teacher that I saw in all of my life. Now my son is in high school, but every day I wish my son’s teacher was Mrs. Occonor. God bless you

Anasia jones Posted 3 months ago

Ms.o'conner is the best teacher hand we hand are ups and downs but she really nice she a really good teacher ms.o'conner is a every nice when I was going through something she was there for me always make she are students is happy when I was in her class I always us to scary her with fake spiders she used to jump up and scream it would me so funny because she scared of spiders and other then that she always mad sure that I was ok I was say that I couldn't wait to live Arsenal but now I want to go back to to Arsenal a be in are class time go by fast. Ms.o'conner is a kind and caring teacher like I said she my best teacher ????

Thomas Williams Posted 3 months ago

Marnie O’Connor She’s the best teacher ever and she’s helps students when there struggling with there work

Raekwon Posted 3 months ago

Hi I’m reakwon -Mrs O’Connor is!, an was a great teacher ,she helped me with everything I didn’t know an what I needed to know .i wouldn’t finish school if it wasn’t for her .she would make me smile as soon as I enter the room. I liked everything we did in her class.

Harvey Posted 3 months ago

She is a good person I really like what she did if you ever need something she would give it to you there not a time that dont go by she not there to help is you need some one to talk to she there she wus one of my best teachers