Merrill Middle School has many teachers who are passionate about making a difference in their student’s lives.
One who teaches lessons that literally help shape our society is Dave O’Connor. As a 14-year Merrill social sciences veteran, he has watched his school grow and look at some of the bigger issues in the world.
“I love the mix of students, faculty and staff at the school,” he says. “I love that we are an International Baccalaureate school because it encourages us to help kids dig deeper into global issues.”
O’Connor is “extremely proud” of Merrill’s commitment to community service.
“Since we became an International Baccalaureate school, our eighth graders alone have performed over 5,000 hours of service, and we have packaged over 100,000 meals for the hungry through a partnership that we have with the organization Meals from the Heartland,” he says.
O’Connor went into the profession of teaching to make an impact on the world.
“I have always seen public education as the cornerstone of our democracy,” he says. “If people don’t participate in our society and know how to go about doing it, we cease to be a democracy. Teaching allows me to have an impact on that.”
Prior to working at Merrill, O’Connor began his carrier as a speech and debate teacher in Iowa City.
“My wife-to-be was teaching at Callanan in Des Moines, so when we got together I moved back here (he is originally from Des Moines) and took the job at Merrill teaching civics.”
The social sciences are essential to giving a student the tools they need to improve how they live. O’Connor believes studying history helps students understand how not to repeat the mistakes of the past and also shows them what kinds of societies throughout history have flourished.
It is O’Connor’s hope that his students leave his class motivated to get involved in their community. He hopes his student become critical thinkers who act on issues that interest them and do not automatically assume that what they are being told to do should be done.