Courtesy of Tricia O'Reilly
After months of seeking out a new principal to take over, Happy Hollow Elementary School finally welcomes a familiar face to the board, Dr. Tricia O’Reilly. Teaching in the system for over 26 years, O’Reilly has the experience and happily took over the position as head principal. Her passion for teaching and being outdoors will bring a fresh presence to Happy Hollow.
“I taught fifth grade for 17 years at Claypit Hill [Elementary] School, and I was the math and science curriculum director for just over eight years,” O’Reilly said.
O’Reilly has worked with children in the educational field for many years and is confident in the fact that she will be able to fill the shoes of the principal and lead the school in a successful manner.
“I realized that there were so many good parts of the job that I hadn’t seen when I was working in the curriculum,” O’Reilly said. “From the outside, a principal’s job looks really hard, and it is, but what I’ve realized is that there are so many rewarding aspects to being principal.”
The rewarding aspects are what made O’Reilly apply to be the permanent Happy Hollow Principal. She felt that being principal offered a different type of satisfaction that her past jobs in the school system have not given her.
“I think that any changes that we make need to be centered around the question, ‘Is this the best thing for the students?’” O’Reilly said. “If we need to change something, then we need to change it in the best interest of the students, and if the change isn’t going to benefit the students, then it probably isn’t a change we should be making.”
O’Reilly has a philosophy to always look at what the school is currently doing and see if it can be improved. If it can be improved, she always looks to see if the change will positively impact the students, and if it does not benefit the students then they don’t pursue the change.
“We are always working to make what we do better, so in that sense, we are changing all the time,” O’Reilly said.
As well as teaching, O’Reilly has a love for the outdoors. When it comes to activities, she loves long beach walks in the fresh air and reading for hours on end.
“I love to read. Every teacher says that, but it’s true,” O’Reilly said. “I love to walk outside, I’ll walk for miles and miles. I love being at the ocean, the ocean air is just like medicine to me.”
Many students who were once at Happy Hollow will remember the memories that they had made with their friends and classmates. Sophomore Misha Boyko enjoyed athletics and the games that were held during recess.
“I loved recess every day,” Boyko said. “We had school-wide games of soccer, they were usually 13 vs. 13, and they were a lot of fun.”
Athletics during recess was very popular; however, other activities such as music class and the creation of the school play excite many others. Every year, all elementary schools hold an annual school play that includes all the students. The play is a big part of the year and students put in a lot of work to fine-tune every little piece.
“The fifth-grade play was really cool,” Boyko said. “I was a narrator. We spent a couple of months preparing it to show our parents, and it turned out pretty well.”
O’Reilly is thrilled to be the new principal at Happy Hollow, and she can’t wait for what’s in store ahead.
“I loved being a classroom teacher, and being the principal at Happy Hollow is like having a class of almost 400 kids, and it’s fantastic, I just absolutely love it,” O’Reilly said.