Letter: Former principal faults decision on O'Connor
As former principal at Bennington Elementary School, I had the privilege to work with many fine educators. One of these was Jerry O'Connor. I was able to observe him first hand as he served as a teacher and as an assistant principal. In both of these roles he has served the students and the community very well. He has demonstrated clear commitment to the youth of the community, and has always acted in their best interest.
It is a travesty that the school directors and central office administration are unable to recognize the positive contributions and the significant positive influence he has had on the school and on the students in the community. To not renew Mr. O'Connor's contract shows a clear lack of understanding by the school directors and central office administration of what the school and community really need.
It is clear that Bennington Elementary School has challenges. Those challenges go well beyond test scores. Meeting those challenges actually needs someone like Jerry O'Connor, who is willing to fully commit himself to the population that the school serves. Mr. O'Connor has continually proven himself in that respect.
Mr. O'Connor has been an advocate for the youth of Bennington throughout his career. The Bennington School District Board of Directors should be counting itself fortunate that it has Mr. O'Connor as an employee, not looking for ways to release him.
In a recent article in the Banner covering the board's action to not renew Mr. O'Connor's contract it is cited that the board believes "a new direction is required" in order to move forward, but no information is offered to clarify the "new direction." In thirty years as a principal in Vermont I have never worked in a school system in which the assistant principal sets the direction for the school. It is not the assistant principal's responsibility. Using this as a reason for non-renewal is inappropriate and misleading to the community.
Given the broad range of public support for Mr. O'Connor that I have seen in the Banner, and the performance of Mr. O'Connor that I have witnessed first hand, I am left to wonder why the board would take action that has no clear merit.
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