World Language Department Chair/Spanish Teacher
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Baltimore, MD
In 2000, Mrs. O’Neal began her career as a Spanish teacher at Montebello Elementary/Junior Academy. After seven years of teaching Spanish to students K-6th grade, Mrs. O’Neal began teaching Honors Spanish I at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. By her second year as an educator at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Mrs. O’Neal was teaching multiple levels of Spanish, and she also founded the Spanish Club, Los Ingenieros. In Mrs. O’Neal’s fourth year at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, she taught the first AP Spanish Language and Culture course, and 80% of her students passed the AP exam. Mrs. O’Neal continued to advance her school’s Spanish extracurricular opportunities, founding the Spanish Honor Society. She now serves as the advisor for both the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honor Society, as well as the World Language Department Chair. Mrs. O’Neal has presented at the Maryland Foreign Language Association five times, and she has been recruited to develop a city-wide curriculum and provide professional development to her colleagues by offering Spanish immersion sessions. Mrs. O’Neal has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from West Virginia University. She is also the recipient of the 2015 NSHSS Higher Education Grant, which supports her pursuit of her master’s degree in Spanish Language and Culture from the University of Salamanca.
Mrs. O’Neal describes her teaching philosophy, “I teach my students that anything is possible. All that is necessary is the belief that one can achieve and the will to put in the work. Language learning is like climbing a mountain. You cannot get to the top by jumping or starting at the middle. One has to be willing to move step by step to get to their desired destination. I show them that practice makes perfect, however we must acknowledge and celebrate the progress we make with each step! By making them believe that they are powerful beyond measure and delivering the absolute best instruction that I can offer, I have the privilege of watching my students year after year move up their mountains towards proficiency!”
Principal of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Jaqueline Williams writes, “Under Mrs. O’Neal’s vision and leadership, we have made great strides in the implementation of various strategies that are needed for second language acquisition for the courses we offer. She has proven herself to be a dynamic instructor and mentor for our students and teachers.” Mrs. O’Neal’s nominating students adds, “Mrs. O'Neal is an amazing Spanish teacher who also teaches us about adulthood and life. She is energetic and enthusiastic throughout the whole day, but also sympathetic and understanding to each and every one of her students.”
Claes Nobel Educators of the Year
NSHSS is pleased to highlight our 2015-2016 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year, presented to ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success in college and in life. These ten educators are among NSHSS’s student-nominated Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction, a program that recognizes educators who model best practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers, and demonstrate outstanding leadership in education and community engagement. Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 38,000 educators worldwide.