- Loudoun County Public Schools
O’Neill Will Live Up to Round Hill’s Mission
Colleen O’Neill was touring Round Hill Elementary with former Principal Andrew Davis when she spotted the school's core values – Believe, Inspire, Achieve – painted on the wall.
O’Neill, Round Hill’s new principal, said there’s no way she could improve on these three words. “People asked me ‘So what’s our theme?’ You already have a theme. You don’t need any more than that.”
As she begins her new role, O’Neill outlined how she will live these values:
“I believe in kids.
“I believe in the work that we’re doing.
“I believe I can personally make a positive contribution that will be meaningful to others.”
“It’s those moments when you get inspired by the actions and words of others.
“Every little lightbulb moment that you have and that you see. It’s when kids are overcoming a challenge or staff figures out a solution to something.
“It’s the kids who are helping one another.”
It’s also physical things, like the PTO making sure students have what they need to come back to school and flowers on the desks of the front-office staff, given to them by the instructional technology facilitator.
“Valuing and honoring the culture of the Round Hill community. I want to embrace what already exists and build upon it, collectively with staff and community. That happens over time.
“Making a contribution that is worthy to others.
“You want to see kids be successful as far as their academics, behavior and social-emotional skills. I want students to have fun. I want them to love school like I love school.”
Relationships are the most important thing O’Neill wants to build at Round Hill. “When you know kids, you know what their needs are and how they acquire knowledge, that’s what makes it fun and meaningful. It’s authentic to them. It’s authentic to real experiences and that's what you remember most about school. When I reflect on elementary school, what I remember is the teacher first, then the experience we had.”
O’Neill remembers her fifth-grade art teacher, who had her students do paintings that were displayed at a museum exhibition. “Art isn’t really my skill set, so I got outside my comfort zone. I was actually pretty quiet. She encouraged me to take more chances. The relationship with her made you want to do more, motivated and inspired you to do more.” (O’Neill still has her fifth-grade painting.)
O’Neill has served in educational positions throughout Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). She’s been a teacher at Cedar Lane Elementary, an administrative aide/teacher at Belmont Station Elementary, an assistant principal at Forest Grove and Evergreen Mill elementary schools and a principal at Sully Elementary and Sterling Middle School. “What I enjoy about being in Loudoun is getting these experiences, and every one is different. There are lessons to be learned in every single one. I gain energy, I gain drive and motivation through the work. No matter what school address I’ve been at, I love learning, I love school.”
She said there’s something similar about all these schools. “The common denominator is a nurturing, caring community that wants the best for their children. Where children have the best experiences. Where they’re feeling safe, loved, cared for and successful.”
O’Neill said she has a special affinity for Round Hill because she occupies the office of former Principal Nancy McManus. “When I first came to Loudoun, she hired me at Cedar Lane.
“When I first came to Loudoun County, I don’t know if I would have said ‘Full circle, I’m in the space where you’ve been.’”
She added there’s a feeling that her career has been leading her to be Round Hill’s principal.
Published September 6, 2023