A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
This will be my last blog post! It is time to give Kristin her place to inspire and reflect. I hope that she enjoys it as much as I have.
I am so thankful for the experience of this year. I have learned so much in the role of Harford County’s Teacher of the Year. This was an amazing opportunity for me to realize that my calling is still my calling and that my fire for it burns brightly.
In one of my favorite novels by Beth Hoffman entitled, “Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt”, a young character struggles to find her place in the world after her mother dies. Cee Cee, the main character, ends up living with her Aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia. Aunt Tootie introduces Cee Cee to a crazy cast of characters but also guides her toward a purposeful life. One of my favorite passages reads,
“She glanced over her shoulder at the house, which was now bathed in a warm tint of yellow from the sun. “Yes, everyone needs to find the one thing that brings out her passion. It’s what we do and share with the world that matters. I believe it’s important that we leave our communities in better shape that we found them. Cecelia Rose," she said, reaching for my hand, "Far too many people die with a heart that's gone flat with indifference, and it surely must be a terrible way to go. Life will offer us amazing opportunities, but we've got to be awake to recognize them."She rested her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes. "If there's one thing I'd like most for you, it’s that you'll find your calling in life. That's where true happiness and purpose lie. Whether it’s taking care of abandoned animals, saving old houses from the wreckin' ball or reading to the blind, you've got to find your fire, sugar. You'll never be fulfilled if you don't.""But how will I know what my fire is?""Oh, you'll know. One day you'll do something, see something or get an idea that seems to pop up from nowhere. And you'll feel a kind of stirring- like a warm flicker inside your chest. When that happens, whatever you do, don't ignore it. Open your mind and explore the idea. Fan your flame. And when you do, you'll have found it.” Beth Hoffman, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
That flicker that started inside my chest almost twenty years ago still burns bright. I am still so proud to be a teacher. I still believe that connecting students to potent ideas will yield great things. I still believe in all that we do.
Once again, I need to say thank you to all of those colleagues, administrators, family and friends who have helped me to tend my fire as a teacher. I would not have been a Teacher of the Year without what you have given me.
It has been a pleasure. It has always been a pleasure to work with so many innovators, creators, dreamers, and leaders. I am excited to watch Kristin’s journey and to read her thoughts in the coming year!
“[...] each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves” Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate
Thank you for the fire that you have given me this year! Blessings for continued success!
Christina O'Neill has served the students, staff and community of Harford County for the last 18 years. She has served as a teacher, reading specialist, literacy leader and volunteer with HCPS. Ms. O'Neill earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the College of Notre Dame in 1993, a Masters of Education from Loyola College in 1997 and administrative certification from Towson University in 2003. At the local, state, and national levels, she has presented on issues related to leading and learning, school improvement and state assessments. Currently, Ms. O'Neill is a member of the Instructional Leadership and School Improvement teams at Bel Air Middle School (BAMS). She volunteers her time and resources to initiate school-based service learning projects such as a letter writing campaign to the United States Military, collecting items for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and participating in American Heart Association's Hoops for the Heart initiative. Ms. O'Neill also organizes a book breakfast for the entire BAMS staff in January, giving teachers a chance to share and exchange current books, create reading profiles to engage students as readers and donate books to women's shelters and other organizations. When she is not dedicating her time and talents, Ms. O'Neill teaches Sunday school at her church and serves as a parent liaison for the Monkton Country Day Care Center.
5/24/2022 1:46 PM
4/28/2022 5:00 PM
4/26/2022 5:00 PM
Following the Board of Education’s decision to make masks optional in Harford County Public Schools, we want to provide additional information to students, staff, parents, and guardians.
If staff or students are sick, please stay home.
Bel Air High School: Monday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Fallston High School: Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
North Harford High School: Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Aberdeen High School: Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
If you have already registered with MAKO for a prior COVID-19 screening clinic, you do not need to complete the registration again before attending a voluntary clinic.
If you have not registered with MAKO, please click here for registration information.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say, “COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.”
Based on the CDC’s latest update, the COVID-19 Community Level in Harford County is “low.” When community levels are “low,” CDC guidance says:
Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.
Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
Get tested if you have symptoms.
Click here for more information about CDC COVID-19 Community Levels.
Click here for a video message following the Board of Education’s decision to make masks optional in HCPS. A big “thank you” to Ms. Abbott’s 5th graders at Ring Factory Elementary School who star in the video! #HCPSuperStars
3/1/2022 1:45 PM
Tonight, February 28, 2022, at 6:51 p.m. during the Board Business meeting, the Board of Education of Harford County voted to lift the mask mandate in all Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) school buildings and facilities, making masks optional for students, staff, and visitors who wish to wear them. The change will take effect tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. This comes after conversations with local health officials following the Maryland State Board of Education and the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) vote to lift the state mask mandate for schools.
We want to be very clear: We support students and adults who choose to continue wearing masks in our school buildings and facilities. Now that the mask mandate has been lifted, this is a personal and family choice. Much like any other personal choice or difference of opinion, there will be no tolerance in our classrooms, schools, or offices, for anyone who wishes to intimidate, tease, or bully anyone else for their choice of whether to wear a mask or not. We ask all our adults to lead by example and all our families to have conversations with their students about this important issue. We must continue to exercise grace, patience, and flexibility with one another.
On February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) amended its federal mask order to no longer require that people wear masks on buses operated by school systems when they are carrying out school-system related business. As a result, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, masks will also be optional on school buses, when those buses are carrying out school-related functions.
Following the current quarantine and isolation guidance set forth by the CDC, Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), students and staff who have completed their five-day isolation or quarantine period should continue to mask in all public settings, including schools, for five additional days. Additionally, all students utilizing health suite services will need to utilize a mask during their visit based on guidance from the CDC. Masks will be provided in health suites as needed.
Please click here for the HCPS Operational Status effective March 1, 2022. It is also available on hcps.org.
We have all been anxious to get to this point. Again, with masks now optional in schools, HCPS facilities, and on school buses for school related activities, we ask everyone to continue to exercise diligence, caution, and kindness, as we traverse the road ahead, HCPStogether.
2/28/2022 6:52 PM
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