Sean O’Connor retires after 26 years as a science teacher at AT

With the school year coming to an end, so do many other things, including many of AT’s staff’s teaching careers as they move on and begin retirement.
Sean O’Connor has worked at AT for 26 years teaching science classes such as biology, chemistry, and physics at the core, honors, and AP levels.
He is both “happy and sad” that his time teaching at AT is coming to and end, as there is a lot he will miss about being a teacher, but there is a lot he is looking forward to about retirement.
He reminisces on some of his favorite memories he made with students throughout the years he worked at AT, one in particular was a lab that he used to have his classes do on projectiles which included water balloons.
“We used it when the weather was nice and if the projectile unit hit during the spring, we would go fire water balloons with a big T-shirt cannon,” said O’Connor. “The students would have to calculate the launch velocity of an angle and they’d have to calculate where I would have to stand in order to hit me, and they never hit me. One year though there was this one group of seniors that hid a bunch of water balloons outside, so when we were headed back inside and I turned around to say something they threw them at me.”
He also remembers a few of the traditions he has been a part of during his time teaching at AT, such as “chemistry caroling,” where his classes and science teacher Steven Nelson’s classes would go door to door singing Christmas carols rewritten with chemistry words to different classes in the building the day before winter break.
During his early years working at AT, he was both a coach for the girl’s swim team and Science Olympiad for many years.
He looks back on his favorite parts of being a teacher and the things that he is going to miss or not miss.
“The best part of teaching was it was different every day and I had a new set of classes every year, with new students every year, and it was just always different,” said O’Connor. “I am going to miss my colleagues, I am going to miss my students, I’m not going to miss grading.”
Before he was a teacher he spent around 12 years as a chemical engineer and then went back to school for an education degree, since he always wanted to be a teacher.
“I think I always wanted to be a teacher.” said O’Connor “I got talked out of it in college because I had an aptitude for math and science so my advisor told me I should be an engineer, so I did engineering for 11 to 12 years and decided to go back and get my education stuff and become a teacher.”
Though he is sad to leave behind his time of teaching at AT, the feeling is bittersweet, as he is looking forward to the plans he has for retirement, including “traveling and going to Chicago Cubs games.”

Sean O’Connor
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