Oak Park will lose a valuable asset next week when Paula O'Malley retires after having served as Principal of Whittier School for the past 25 years.
Quite coincidentally, my husband and I bought our current home here in the northeast quadrant of Oak Park 27 years ago. Little did we then know what wonderful, innovative and progressive educational developments were occurring right in our own backyard under Paula O'Malley's leadership.
Being the "late- blooming Baby Boomers" that we are, our daughter is now only in 3rd grade at Whittier School. And thus we find ourselves the thankful benefactors of Mrs. O'Malley's tireless and dedicated service to Oak Park's children over the past three decades. Prior to assuming the principal position at Whittier, she taught at Lincoln School.
The brightest feather in Paula O'Malley's cap may likely be the multiage primary (MAP) programming she introduced at Whittier School in 1996. MAP integrates children from consecutive grade levels in the same classroom with the same teacher.
However, in addition to introducing MAP to District 97 at Whittier School, Mrs. O'Malley tended and nurtured it. She sought and developed collaboration among teachers and parents to ensure it's becoming the success it is. Most all of us now at Whittier, can't hardly imagine a Whittier School without multiage.
Concomitant with MAP, the looping model was initiated by Mrs. O'Malley. Every class of every grade at Whittier now has the same teacher for at least two years. Other O'Malley accomplishments at Whittier School include: full day kindergarten, an early childhood program, an affiliation with Hephzibah wherein all Hephzibah kids are now students at Whittier, the utilization of Waterford and CCC computer program instruction, Family Sunshine groups where both children and parents are encouraged to abide by "no hurts, stick together and have fun," the inclusion of parents on the School Leadership Team and the establishment of the SLT Family Nights at Whittier and lastly the establishment of the annual Ethnic Fest sponsored by District 97.
I'll always remember my dear great aunt's lesson about spelling "principal." The final three letters are "pal" because your principal is your pal.
Well, Aunt Miriam, I have another spelling for you?#34;"M R S O' M A L L E Y"?#34;who will always be our pal.
Thank you, Mrs. O'Malley. You will be missed!
Mary Kay Reckers