O'Riley begins new role: Leader of Galva schools
Q: Discuss your thoughts as you assume your new post as superintendent/principal.
A: I am very excited to become the superintendent of Galva Community School District 224. I have a unique opportunity to serve the community, parents, teachers and the Board of Education as a peer.
I now have four children in Galva Schools, live close to the school, and am out in the community patronizing our local businesses and attending community functions on a regular basis. Additionally, my wife, Julie, has many family members in the area, and I get a good representation of the pulse of Galva.
Because I am transitioning from being the elementary principal, I also know most of our students. I don’t just have a list of names, I actually know almost all of them. I have celebrated with them, watched them learn, coached them, and yes, disciplined a few of them, similarly to how I discipline my own children. Knowing the students does make a huge difference when leading a district, especially in trying times. It will be my highest priority to limit the loss of opportunities and quality instruction for them, as the state continues to cut back on its support for schools.
And, I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit being somewhat intimidated by the stresses facing our district both financially and by a growing number of regulations the government places upon schools. As a rookie in the superintendent’s office, I will have much to learn quickly, with little margin for error. Yet, I know I will make mistakes. When I do, I must learn from them, and limit the impact on students and staff.
My ultimate desire is to work to improve Galva schools so much that people want to move to Galva, because of the success of our schools. This will take much time, and will require new links with the community, improved communication channels with parents, and new resources and training for our teachers. Student scores will be one reflection of this success, but ultimately, parent and student satisfaction with the education available in Galva will translate into positive conversations outside of Galva’s boundaries. Prospective residents may make a choice to choose Galva because of positive word-of-mouth, and a terrific reputation.
Q: Juggling superintendent and principal duties could be challenging. What are your thoughts of wearing both hats?
A: I will have dual roles, but the students and staff of Galva Elementary are very fortunate to have Dawn Peters working from the elementary office as Lead Teacher. She will be leading the school’s PBIS (Positive Behaviors, Interventions and Supports) program, which is the foundation for its discipline, she will also be leading the Response to Intervention program. This is the foundation for helping all of our students achieve academic success with differentiated instruction. She will also be strengthening links in the community, and working closely with parents.
My role as principal will continue mostly by working with teachers to improve instruction. I will continue to support staff through resource allocation, training, and the observation/evaluation process.
I also plan to remain visible in the school to its students. They will continue to see me in the hallways, the playground, lunchroom, and will be invited to my new office. The job would not be enjoyable without positive student interactions. They will keep me grounded, and reminded of the reason I am there.