Mr. Brennan O’Connell: Math


   Mr. Brennan O’Connell is a mathematics teacher in his first year professionally teaching. In his words, the closest thing he had to professional teaching before this school year was his internship in a small school in Wisconsin called Benton.

   “Guilford High School has always been an amazing school to me,” said Mr. O’Connell. “I graduated from Guilford in 2016 and came right back to teach here. When I was a student here, I felt that I had some of the best teachers that anyone could ask for and very welcoming peers. Nothing has changed since I have been gone, other teachers are always there to help, and the students here are great students.”

   As with many other schools and individuals nationwide, the Coronavirus pandemic has altered plans, events, and even lives.

   “Covid has thrown a wrench into a lot,” said Mr. O’Connell. “Thankfully, I have taken a few technology classes, so I felt as prepared as one could for this year. Even though it is a crazy year with a lot of hurdles and change, I think that, in the end, this will just teach me how to better deal with adversity.”

   For many students and people in general, mathematics comes as a very difficult subject to learn and understand. However, Mr. O’Connell claims it came easy to him, which is why he found it intriguing from a young age.

   “At that young age, I liked that, in mathematics, there was always a right answer, but different ways to get there,” said Mr. O’Connell. “As I grew older and took more complex courses in math, I also learned to appreciate the beauty in it. It taught me life skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I came to appreciate the fact that math isn’t just memorizing equations and steps, but instead the core idea is really about logic and problem solving. Computational math is the tool that can get you from point A to point B in a problem, but where the true mathematics comes in is how do you get there.”

   When it comes to finding a passion in life, people have different ways of going about it. Of course, everyone has different passions too. For Mr. O’Connell, teaching is that passion.

   “Education has always just interested me. Part of it has come from my love for math, I wanted to be doing math, not just having a computer program do it for me. I also wanted to get others as excited about mathematics as I was. I have also just always enjoyed helping others to learn. In high school I would never hesitate to help a struggling classmate, then in college I tutored math for most of my time there, which solidified that I would like teaching. Now here I am, teaching at Guilford and loving every single second of it.”