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Interview with Martha O'Neill

O'Neill, Martha
Wright, Christina
Date of Interview: 
O'Neill, Martha, 1956-; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Piedmont Open Middle School (Charlotte, N.C.); Open plan schools; Drama in education; Acting teachers; Art--Study and teaching; School management and organization; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers; Blue Ribbon Schools Program (U.S.); Musicals; School field trips; Sex instruction; North Carolina--Charlotte; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Martha O'Neill shares her experiences as a drama teacher at Piedmont Open Middle School in Charlotte. She describes the characteristics of open education as it was understood and practiced within the school, including a focus on the whole child, an integrated student centered curriculum, an emphasis on group work and cooperation, an appreciation for the role of arts education, acceptance of diversity within the student body, and respect for students as individuals. During the interview Ms. O’Neill recalls many anecdotes from her time teaching at Piedmont, and praises principal Stephanie Counts for her leadership. Under Counts' direction Piedmont became a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. While Ms. O'Neill is a strong advocate for open education, she believes that it would be impossible to implement the open philosophy in the current educational climate. Ms. O’Neill continues with a discussion of what she sees as the biggest challenges in education today, highlighting high stakes testing, low levels of teacher compensation, and the lack of prestige associated with teaching.
North Carolina--Charlotte; 1989 - 1996
Interview Setting: 
Home of Martha O'Neill, North Carolina--Charlotte
Oral History, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Open Schools Series
Collection Description: 
These interviews focus on the history and significance of open education in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System. They were inspired by a school history project at Piedmont Open Middle School in 2004.
Interview Audio: