A fixture at Ocean Township Elementary in Oakhurst, New Jersey—where he has worked since day one of his eight-year teaching career—Patrick O'Neill is a deeply committed educator who goes out of his way to solidify pupils' success. Take, for example, his student who was receiving treatment for leukemia: not only did O'Neill visit her in the hospital every day to ensure that she kept up with her learning, but when she was moved to a Memphis facility for a bone marrow transplant, he continued to provide lessons and support via Skype.
Born into a family of educators, O'Neill is carrying on the tradition in many compelling and innovative ways. Whether it is SMART boards, an ELMO document camera, computer-based assessments (with pre-tests for re-teaching and reinforcement) or mobile laptop labs, he employs the latest technology to engage his students and track their progress. O'Neill also differentiates and scaffolds lessons, even for his special education students. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that his cooperative-based classroom is often chosen to pilot district initiatives.
Student achievement data show that O'Neill's students' test scores have been climbing in science and math since 2007. When compared to schools in the district, their gains are among the highest in reading and math.
O'Neill is a teacher mentor. A member of the school safety committee, he heads a new anti-bullying campaign and a new literacy program. At the district level, O'Neill is helping formulate the writing curriculum, report card revisions and technology infusion. He coaches varsity and JV football at the local high school.