Friday, August 21, 2020

By: Claire Quigle

Happy “Where Do You Work” Wednesday! This week we are highlighting alumnus Nicholas O’Brien (MAT in Secondary Education in 2010, and MA in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies in 2018).

O’Brien currently serves as the Denison Middle School dean of students in Denison, Iowa. Before becoming the dean of students, O’Brien worked as a teacher for 16 years. He is originally from Mesa, Arizona, but has spent most of his life in Iowa. Having worked as both a teacher and administrator, O’Brien knows that he can help students with both their learning and their personal lives throughout each school year.

“I love working with students and staff to create a community of learners that cares and supports each other,” says O’Brien.“Every new day brings a unique opportunity to help others grow and knowing I get to be a part of shaping that environment fills me with gratitude for the opportunity.”

As a current administrator and past teacher, O’Brien feels that his time at the University of Iowa College of Education helped him prepare for his career.

“The classes I took and the people I was able to collaborate with at the University of Iowa helped give me a glimpse into the diverse amount of opinions and experiences that I would be encountering as I served in a public school,” says O’Brien.

O’Brien said that he knows this coming school year will be unlike any other year, but is looking at it as an opportunity to grow.

“This is a challenging time to be involved with education, but I believe it is an unprecedented opportunity to serve others and change things for the better,” says O’Brien. “The things we do in this instance will forever change how we educate future generations and that is an amazing thing to be part of.”

COVID-19 has had a large impact on both O’Brien himself as well as his district as a whole. O’Brien said this pandemic has changed how teachers and administrators will approach learning. He also said he and his colleagues have learned they need to be flexible in how they address issues of safety, new methods and modes of instruction, as well as how they address social-emotional health.

“There are countless ways this (COVID-19) will change education and I believe it will give us the impetus to change things for the better.”

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