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Leading by Example

Calm is a great word to describe the atmosphere of Park Orchard Elementary School, and that's no surprise since most of the staff also used that same word to describe their principal, Patrick O'Connor. Staff member Katie Motes says, "I think he's always calm. No matter what's going on, he's calm and collected, and he's an amazing person to learn from. I've learned so much from him just by his demeanor and how he handles situations." Teacher Andrew Parsons agrees. "Patrick's the kind of guy you learn things from, even if he doesn't explicitly teach you. He's someone that you can watch do his job, and you naturally learn things from him."
Principal Patrick jumping rope at recess

Patrick has been the principal of Park Orchard for the past seven years, and throughout his time there has built great relationships with his staff, students, and community. Office manager Wendy Martin says that Patrick is "involved with everyone. He's involved with staff, teachers, parents, and families, and to the best of his ability, he makes himself available to work with everybody." Patrick does this because he believes that being relationship-based is essential. He says, "Whether you're working with students, adults, families, or district staff, I feel like having a foundation of a strong relationship is essential for to having a productive, positive, working relationship, and I feel like that creates the container where growth can happen." His staff agree. Teacher Jessica Bowie says, "when he works with me or other teachers he's very good at hearing you out and whenever he responds, what he says is what you need to hear in the moment and he's very good at processing and being rationale."
The respect and admiration that the Park Orchard staff have towards Patrick is hard to miss. Teacher Keith Martin says, "he has really helped me think about how to always grow, to be a better teacher, to try something new. I know that with him here, I am cared for by the leader of this building. Patrick's a great guy. He's an excellent leader and committed." Coming from a retail background, Motes says she feels like she was brought to Park Orchard for a reason, and that reason was to learn from Patrick. "He has so much to teach people. Just watching how he handles situations, I truly feel like he's a great leader."
Patrick also believes that balance is vital. He encourages everyone to take care of themselves because if you don't, sustaining the work is challenging. "Regardless of your role, whether you're para-educator, office worker, teacher, or principal, being in education, I think it's super important to have boundaries and take care of yourself, so you can come back the next day and be in a good mood. You have to balance so you can come back and give it your all the next day." Patrick does his best to lead by example, and his staff notices it. Bowie says, "He has a really good balance between being professional but also adding a tasteful amount of humor to make things a little more enjoyable. He does that with staff and students and makes work enjoyable."
Thank you, Patrick, for creating a great atmosphere where students, staff, and families are welcomed and can learn and grow.