Coping with Coronavirus: Messenger of Hope

Dr. O’Connell dons Croton-Harmon school spirit wear each day to feel close to students and staff.

An interview with Dr. Deborah O’Connell, Superintendent, Croton-Harmon Schools 

What does a typical day in your new home office look like?  

My new office is my entire dining room. It is a beautiful room with a lot of windows, so the room itself “brightens my day.”   

I have two computers set up and two iPhones. Each and every school day, I start by sending a video message to our students. I feel it is very important to connect with students daily.  

At the end of my video message to students, I recite the Pledge of Allegiance and invite the students to join me. The are messages of hope, allowing me to share how proud I am of our students and their dedication to their learning.  

After this message, the students then hear a message from their principals. Then they proceed to their daily (online) eLearning.   

I also send a daily email message to our entire staff. As I said, we all need to remain connected during these challenging times.   

Each day, I have Google Hangout meetings with the Administrative Team and I connect with various teachers. The days begin very early and continue on. Connections are important, so I look to numerous ways to connect.   

Every Friday, I have “Story Time with Dr. O’Connell,” which is a great opportunity to read to our students. Several times a week, I speak with area superintendents.   

Each day I wear Croton-Harmon school spirit wear so that I continue to feel close to our students and staff. 

Do you have any assistants aiding you (dogs, children, spouses) in your tasks?  

I have two dogs and two cats.  They serve as the support team. They are always ready and willing to help. Their “help” usually requires me to “re-tape” a video message because one of them knocked over the camera. 

How often are you in touch with your staff, and through which platforms?  

Daily with staff, daily with students, predominantly using video messaging/email messaging, and Google Meet [formerly Hangout]. I use Zoom for Board of Education meetings and Zoom for meetings with area superintendents. 

Lindsey Marcus is education coordinator of River Journal North. 

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About the Author: Lindsey Marcus