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