Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12



Erin O'Connell

Female teacher smiling outsideWhy did you decide to become a teacher?

I can't say I "decided" to be a teacher. I feel like the profession chose me. I thought I would never be like my mother (a college professor and counselor), but after being a camp counselor for many summers, teaching reading and swimming, I had a post-grad discussion with my favorite English professor. It ended with him saying to me, "Go find yourself a private school and see if you like teaching," and my response was, "Teaching would be fun!" He then added, "Who said work had to be hard?" Teaching at Pennington has offered me fun, hard work for 26 years!

Who was your mentor growing up?

My mentor growing up was my mother. My mentor for my early years at Pennington was Andrea Wald (former associate dean of students), who showed me what it meant to truly be involved in the Pennington School community.

What's your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is to constantly tap into the student in me. I love learning, and when I can learn with my students and model a mindset of curiosity, wonder and possibility, my students discover, make connections, and sometimes teach me. Being aware of what each of us, teacher and student alike, brings to a text, a discussion, or an activity, and then allowing for new learning and new ideas to emerge from those connections reminds us of our shared humanity.

Favorite snack?

Kettle Korn

Favorite movie?

Ordinary of so many; I LOVE the movies!

Favorite thing to do in the summer time?

Reading (and sleeping) on the beach.