Montezuma Community Schools recently announced that Kelly O’Rourke has been named the new secondary principal beginning this fall. O’Rourke is a graduate of Williamsburg High School and holds a degree in elementary education from Coe College and master’s degree from Viterbo University. He just finished his sixth year teaching fourth grade at Viola Gibson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. He and his wife, Kaylee, and 17-month-old son, Koy, live in Williamsburg.
by J.O. Parker
A new face will greet students when they return to Montezuma Community Schools this fall. The district announced last month that Kelly O’Rourke has been hired as the new secondary principal.
A native of Williamsburg and graduate of Coe College, O’Rourke holds a degree in elementary education. He just wrapped up his sixth year teaching fourth grade at Viola Gibson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. While teaching, he pursued and earned his master’s degree from Viterbo University.
When asked what drew him to Montezuma, O’Rourke said the Montezuma tradition.
“I have been lucky enough to get to know teachers, families, and students in the Montezuma school district and their love for community and excellence was evident,” he said. “I have always wanted to be in a small school district, and Montezuma was a perfect fit.”
When asked what his approach to leadership and helping students grow in the classroom and in life is, O’Rourke said consistency, visibility, passion and opportunities.
O’Rourke said he wants students to know that he is in their corner and will be their biggest fan.
“I plan to do this by being visible during school and outside of school at events,” he said.
He said consistency is crucial in education and helping students find their passion and showing them how to give 110 percent is important to him.
He added, “making sure students know expectations and they are consistent will help them navigate in the classroom and in life.”
“As a secondary principal, I am helping provide opportunities for students to explore the next phase of their life. I want to support them and make sure they have ample opportunities throughout their years in Montezuma.”
O’Rourke also believes in building strong relationships with students and staff, saying that is the backbone to being a successful leader.
“Instilling a sense of self-worth among students comes with creating a safe learning environment for all,” O’Rourke said.
He said this is done in small 30 second conversations that happen every day. He also noted that being consistent, supportive, while also challenging students and helping them achieve their goals, is important to him.
“My goal is to be someone they can talk to on days they may be struggling but also be the first one to celebrate success with them on their good days.” He said. “Technology is at the forefront of education today and giving staff the proper training to successfully implement technology is the first step to reaching students. After doing that, we need to understand students have the knowledge and creative ability to use technology to show understanding and create content that represents their learning.”
Other areas of importance to principal O’Rourke include:
Collaborative leadership: Being a team player is something I pride myself on. I believe that the more I can listen and learn from others, the better equipped I am going to be to make tough decisions. The staff in a school building is on the front line every day and giving them opportunities to give feedback is important to me.
Creating flexible learning environments: I have done extensive work on creating environments that promote flexible seating into the classroom. This allows students to work in an area that best suits their learning style.
Communicating to all stakeholders: Being visible in classrooms, hallways, music events, athletic events, etc. is a goal of mine for their first year. I want teachers to feel supported, students to feel comfortable, and parents/community members to know who I am and feel they can talk to me at any time.
In addition to being a teacher and now a principal, O’Rourke said coaching young people is one his passions.
“I started while in college and continue coaching as a hobby,” he said. “Watching athletes compete is special, and helping them improve is something that I enjoy!”
He has coached varsity baseball the last six years at Cedar Rapids Washington. He has also coached football for two years and basketball for two years.
“During the past five years, I been coaching youth sports for the 212 Sports Academy in Williamsburg,” O’Rourke said.
When asked what his goals are in getting the new school year off on the right foot, O’Rourke noted that listening to students, staff and community members is forefront on his agenda.
“I plan to learn about what makes Montezuma great,” he said. “I want to establish a positive learning environment for all and build trust with stakeholders of Montezuma CSD.”
O’Rourke, his wife, Kaylee, and 17-month-old son, Koy, live in Williamsburg, having returned there after several years in Cedar Rapids area. The couple has been married for five years. His current plans are to commute, saying that he will reevaluate on a year-to-year basis.
When not teaching or coaching, O’Rourke and his family enjoy spending time outdoors, traveling to see family and watching sporting events.
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