O’Neal opens doors for Crichfield 4th graders
Elementary school is an integral important time in kids’ lives, and is often the time they pick role models. Crichfield Elementary’s Miss O’Neal provides a great role model for kids going into 4th grade and long after.
O’Neal went to Purdue Northwest for three semesters before transferring to Purdue’s main campus at West Lafayette to finish her bachelors degree in high school English education. After that, she worked at a high school in special education for three years. While working with the high school students, O’Neal missed being as animated as she could be in an elementary setting. She continued her degree online at Western Governors University, earning an elementary certification.
“One thing I missed was being able to work with the younger kids and being able to be a little more animated without them looking at me like, ‘Oh my goodness. This lady is crazy,’ even though they probably still do. I just missed working with little ones and being as crazy as I am in the classroom,” O’Neal said.
After moving to teaching the 4th grade class at Crichfield Elementary eight years ago, she has decided that teaching elementary school is where she wanted to stay. To keep the younger students engaged in each activity, O’Neal tries to adapt her high-energy personality to all of her students and each of their needs, especially in the government and reading units because she is able to connect them to the students’ real lives.
“I found that when they know you care, when they know you want them to do well, they’ll be really proud to come up to you and show you what they’ve done, or they’ll be more willing to work towards something. So, it’s about teaching with that high energy and letting them know that I love them and care about them,” O’Neal said.
She describes her favorite part about teaching the 4th graders as watching them grow not only academically but also physically. Students aren’t the only things she likes to watch grow though. O’Neal has a green thumb that she plans to implement in her home life and in the next academic year where the theme is “Never Stop Growing.”
Though O’Neal doesn’t have any plans to leave teaching, she wouldn’t mind moving to a department with a specialty in children who have a history in trauma.
“I would like to at least look into or experience is working with children who have experienced trauma. From my own personal experiences, being able to identify with the child who may have experienced or are experiencing traumatic moments in their life, and getting to work with them at that point,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal has been an inspiration to a vast amount of students who continue to look to her for guidance to this day, and Crichfield Elementary is lucky to have a teacher who cares so much for her students.