Friday, May 31, 2013

Leaving's been a great ride!

     Most of my colleagues already know, but I'll officially announce to my online friends & Twitter followers that I have accepted a new job in Nashville, Tennessee.  Next week will be my last week of school here in Reynoldsburg after ten and a half years of teaching and thirteen years of schooling K-12.  I'll be moving to Nashville, TN to begin work as the Online Instructional Designer for Lipscomb University.  Quite the challenge lays ahead but I am very excited to begin the work.
Senior Picture, 1998
     I leave behind a great staff & many friends some of whom I had as teachers not so long ago.  For those that don't know, the Burg has been my home address for the last 34 years.  My father taught in Reynoldsburg for 32 years and two of those years we were lucky enough to teach together at Baldwin Road Junior High.  For the past 40 years there has been a "Mr. O'Neal" in the Burg, although often former students of his, now parents, would look in my classroom door and say "You are not Mr. O'Neal" to which I'd respond "I'm Mr. O'Neal 2.0" (If you're wondering, most didn't get it).
       It is probably fitting that I sit here in my office which, at one time long ago, was the third floor teacher lounge here at Hannah Ashton Middle School where my father began his teaching career in the early 70's.  As a young boy I remember coming to school with my dad and eating a sack lunch...always keeping one eye on Cindy Gillum because I wasn't too sure what she would do next (Hmmm...I still do that).  It's also where I started to hone my perfected teacher humor from the greats like Rich Winchel, my father, & Steve McCaw.  Just think how many students have rolled their eyes at me because of that influence...almost brings a tear to my eye. Most teachers here now probably don't even know this was a teacher's lounge, but now I seem to have come full circle.
Coaching with Kevin
    Coaching has also been a huge part of my time here at Reynoldsburg.  My father coached track for over 30 years, even coaching after he retired from teaching.  After coaching my first few seasons at Grandview Heights I had the pleasure of coaching several track seasons with my dad.  For the last eight years I have coached alongside Kevin Lewis who was my junior high Cross Country Coach.
Pic of me (bottom left) with Kevin Lewis (top left) in 1992
Who would have thought then that I would coach with him one day. As you can see it is a toss-up for who has changed more, Ha!  In fact, Kevin coached with my dad before I started coaching with him, so really almost his entire coaching career has been alongside a Coach O'Neal.  Hopefully the O'Neal legacy in Reynoldsburg City Schools will be remembered as teachers & coaches who cared about the students & athletes they had the privilege to instruct.  I know that was goal of my father and that was likewise always my ultimate goal.
     After following in my father's footsteps its now time to branch out and take on a new challenge.  Looking forward to what lies ahead, I am excited to take on a new job title and focus.  Lipscomb, being a private Christian University, has the unique challenge of how to maintain a Christ like atmosphere in an online environment.  A challenge I have accepted and look forward to working with faculty to accomplish.
     The next few months will be extremely busy, but once I settle into the new job I plan to be back on blogging thoughts & ideas on education.  For those wondering, I also plan on continuing tweeting, of course I may have to change my handle to @BisonEducation although it will be hard to part with Rocky Raider.  He is a noble Pirate & one I have seemingly been with all my life.  A fellow teacher, Dana Ortman, joked with me that I would have to buy all new clothes because everything I wear is Reynoldsburg attire.  I laughed...and then teared up when I got home & looked in the closet...because he was right.  A big change indeed, but at least I'll stay Purple & Gold!

For all the teachers out there, enjoy the summer, you've earned it!