Sheila O’Connell: World Changer

At Partners in Education we hear countless stories about the impact of a volunteer’s presence in a classroom. We also hear time and again about how having consistent volunteer presence is one of the biggest needs teachers have on an ongoing basis.

Sheila O'Connell No one knows this better than Sheila O’Connell. Sheila was a teacher herself, teaching preschool through grade six, as well as an administrator for more than 30 years.

In describing her own experience as a teacher, she says, “I was the teacher who stayed until 7 o’clock at night putting things in alphabetical order. What people don’t understand is that teachers can’t get work like that done when the kids are there.”

So Sheila, as a Partners in Education volunteer, has spent the past two years providing teachers with the support she wished she had had as a teacher.

In 2017 at McKinley Elementary, Sheila spent weeks and months helping wherever she was needed, focusing mostly on the younger grades, spending a lot of time helping students read.

At the beginning of 2018, after the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudflow, Cold Spring School, in an effort to offer fun and comfort for affected students, set up lunchtime arts and crafts, and asked Partners for volunteers to assist. Sheila was one the first volunteers to commit to a weekly volunteer role at this school.

Over the past two years, Sheila has given more than 100 total hours of her time, talent, and experience to the teachers and students of McKinley and Cold Spring Elementary Schools.

When asked what volunteering has meant to her, Sheila replied, “Partners welcomed me into the educational community of Santa Barbara County. It allowed me to pursue my passion for volunteering while continuing my 34 year career in elementary education. Partners in Education changed my life and I feel very fortunate to have found this wonderful organization.”

Well, Sheila, we want to return the sentiment. You are a treasure to our organization and this community, and we are honored to bestow upon you the World Changer Award. Thank you.

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