BENNINGTON -- A longtime educator in town has been tapped as the next Bennington Elementary assistant principal.
Jerry O'Connor, who has taught sixth grade math and science at Mount Anthony Union Middle School since 2007, was hired by the board Monday to a $74,000 salary. Prior to Bennington sending its sixth grade students to the middle school in 2007, O'Connor taught sixth grade at Bennington Elementary for five years. Before that taught fifth and sixth grade at Monument Elementary for four years.
O'Connor described Bennington Elementary as "pretty special" to him given that he used to teach there, all of his children went to school there,
O'Connor said becoming an administrator seemed like a natural transition having worked his way up over the years.
"I started as involved parent in school to becoming para, to a teacher, to an administrator," he said.
Outside of teaching, O'Connor has also been very involved in the community. He has coached baseball, basketball and soccer at the elementary and middle school level since 2003, he has served on the board of directors for the Bennington Youth Center. In recent years he has been the afterschool program coordinator at the middle school and involved in its Parent Teacher Student Association.
While this is O'Connor's first administrative position in education, he pointed out that he worked in retail management for a decade prior to beginning his teaching career.
Bennington Elementary Principal James Law said the screening committee had a difficult decision because there were many qualified candidates. Of the 30 applicants for the position, O'Connor rose above the other six who were interviewed.
"We had a very, very good pool to select from and all of them had very strong qualifications in a variety of areas," Law said.
Ultimately, Law said the group felt O'Connor was the "right fit at the right time." Law pointed to O'Connor's involvement in the community and enthusiasm he brings to the position as strengths that will benefit the school. He also said it will be beneficial to have a person with fresh ideas helping the administrative team.
O'Connor taught at Bennington Elementary when Law began there in the fall of 2006. The two also overlapped at Monument Elementary where Law was principal prior to Bennington Elementary.
O'Connor said he and Law have always maintained a good professional relationship and he envisions they will complement each other well.
While O'Connor said he is looking forward to the new challenge, he also said the move is "bittersweet" because he has formed so many relationships at the middle school and had a class of students he was expecting to teach come fall.
The assistant principal position at Bennington Elementary had been covered by Irene Nadler on a long-term substitute basis for the final months last school year after Donna Cauley was appointed to become Monument Elementary's teaching principal in February.
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