First day on the job he saw five people shot execution style.For the next five years, criminals fired bullets and hurled beer bottles at him. His bullet-proof vest saved his life after being stabbed with an ice pick.
“It isn’t something I miss at all,” said Mr. Bernie O’Connor, East’s new Athletic Director.
O’Connor left his job with the Philadelphia Police Department to pursue his interest in education.
“Being an educator was something I always wanted to do,” O’Connor said.
After leaving his job with the Police Department, O’Connor taught social studies at Cherry Hill West for 12 years and was an administrative intern during the 2006-2007 school year. Additionally, he was an assistant coach for track and football. He became the head football coach in 1999, and remained in that position until 2005, when he relinquished his coaching job to finish his master’s degree in education at Walden University.
However, O’Connor feels that the experience he has had coaching influences the way he will approach his position as East Athletic Director.
“I still see myself as a coach,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor hopes to bring the energy and passion he displayed on the field to his new position.
This June, the Board of Education appointed O’Connor as an assistant principal and the director of the Special Education Department. He has also assumed 15-year-veteran Mr. Bob Hulme’s role as Athletic Director because the Board selected Hulme as the principal for the Class of 2012and director of the History Department. O’Connor officially began his role as Athletic Director on July 25.
Before actually making changes to the current athletic program, O’Connor first wants to get a feel for his new position. He is confident with the program Hulme passed down to him, but said that anything can be improved.
“I’m focusing on what Mr. Hulme has built and looking for ways to take it to the next level,” O’Connor said.