Letter: O’Connor vows to support students, teachers, families


As a member of the Westfield School Committee, I am often reminded of the challenges that teachers in the Westfield Public School (WPS) system face year in and year out, and those challenges seem to grow each year. As we try to emerge from the restrictions and debris of COVID, we are fortunate to have been able to return to in-school learning, while maintaining a virtual learning environment. For students and teachers who have returned to the classroom, safety remains my number one priority, and I have made every effort to help create and maintain safe learning and working environments. For teachers, it will be a year to continue to follow and reinforce safety protocols, to re-establish classroom routines, and to continue to address both social-emotional needs and interrupted learning. This will require a prioritization of strategies, including reconnecting with students and families to help rebuild and maintain the collaborative relationships that has contributed to student success.

While we strive to continue look ahead, I am proud of the commitment our teachers have made over the last 18-plus months, helping to do what they could to keep students and families engaged. I know it was not an easy task. As vice chair of the Westfield School Committee, I wanted to thank each one of you for the work you have done day in and day out, regardless of the circumstances or challenging conditions that you may have faced.  Now more than ever, you are required to provide support for the whole student, supporting their academic, physical, and social-emotional well-being. Thank you for understanding that each student is different and learns differently; thank you for being good communicators and listeners; thank you being able to shift gears on the fly; thank you for being patient and showing empathy; thank you being respectful; thank you for maintaining professionalism and being good role models; and most of all, thank you for caring about your students.

I hope/trust my actions as a member of the Westfield School Committee have been supportive for the needs of the teachers in and out of the classroom. Both of my parents made education their profession and in doing so, instilled in me the value and need of a quality education. Decisions I have made as a member of the Westfield School Committee have been done so with the students, teachers and families in mind. Should I be re-elected on Nov. 2, I will continue to make those decisions that benefit the entire WPS community. I am proud of the commitment teachers have made during this unprecedented period and my focus will be to continue to provide the support they need to continue to address the growing challenges this year and beyond.

Tim O’Connor

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