John E. O'Mard
37 Principal - John W. Dodd Middle School, Freeport, N.Y.
John O'Mard got his start in education as a language arts teacher for seventh and eighth graders. He now reigns as principal of John W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, N.Y. A graduate of St. John's University, where he studied business administration and education, he holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the City College of New York and another in administration and supervision from the College of New Rochelle. “I have to thank my mother, who is an educator and administrator,” O'Mard says. “If it weren't for her, I would never [have gone] into education.”
Teaching must be an inherent talent in O'Mard. In his 14-year career, he has received numerous accolades, including a coveted Principal of the Year award, the Al Wilkins Leadership Award and Excellence in Education, all bestowed on him in 2002 alone. In 1995 he was awarded the Pioneer Award from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and was nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in English Teaching in 1996. A member of the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the American Educational Research Association, O'Mard sees education as more than a vocation. It's in his blood.
BET profiled O'Mard in 2001 as one of the youngest principals in New York, a feat that is of particular importance to him. “I have overcome obstacles as an African-American,” he says. He believes in the promise of the generation to come. “If I had the time and money, I would like to provide scholarships for students to go to college…[and] set up private academies for inner-city boys and girls,” he says.
Mentoring youth as a member of 100 Black Men and a board member of the Early Childhood Learning Center, he is taking steps today to ensure the success of youth tomorrow. Under his guidance, he is seeing to it that the 1,200 students at Dodd Middle School continue on their path to excellence.