Meet Michael O’ Connor, Ph.D.

“At its heart, Catholic education centers love and justice to co-create a learning environment that affirms human dignity   and solidarity as a foundation for engagement, learning, and formation. Educational principles of collaboration,  inquiry, and equity align well to the mission of Catholic education and I have seen how these principles can transform educational experiences and know the potential they have to further transform Catholic education.” —  Michael O'Connor, Ph.D.

Michael O'Connor, Ph. D.

Assistant Director, Outreach, The Roche Center for Catholic Education

Michael O’ Connor joined the Roche Center team September 17th as the Assistant Director of Outreach. In this role, Michael will lead partnership and outreach through strategic coordination of relationship building, marketing and media efforts, as well as support professional learning initiatives and research projects.  

Michael comes to the Roche Center with a diversity of experiences, including in Catholic Education, teacher education, and the public sector. Michael most recently served as Coordinator of Educator Pipelines, Preparation, and Certification for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), where he supported educator preparation programs and recruitment and retention efforts, with a particular emphasis on educators of color. Michael began his career in education as a middle school English Language Arts teacher in Birmingham, Alabama with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program at the University of Notre Dame. His support of the University Consortium for Catholic Education (UCCE) programs quickly expanded to include service at St. Joseph’s University as the founding Assistant Director of Programs for the Alliance for Catholic Education at Saint Joseph’s University (ACESJU), at Boston College as an Instructional Coach for the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps (UCTC), and at Providence College as the Director of the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT). 

His passion for working with practitioners has led to numerous scholarship contributions. With collaboration as a central tenet to meaningful work, Michael has fostered this building of community by “researching collaboration, supporting educators as they collaborated in an educational network, and collaborating with my fellow doctoral students, Boston College Lynch School faculty, and other educators.” This collaborative spirit has also led to Michael’s participation as a Coyle Fellow with the Center for Literacy Education at the University of Notre Dame, where he examines the intersection of his research interests in collaboration and literacy.

Michael received his Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the Lynch School at Boston College in 2017 with a specialization in Language, Literacy & Culture. His dissertation explored how students in rural settings made language choices in response to authentic audience and community-based argument writing tasks. These writing projects stemmed from collaborative work with a broader network of rural educators in the Pacific Northwest. His subsequent work with Dr. Andy Hargreaves focused on ”collaborative professionalism, or collaboration that transforms teaching and learning for educators and students alike.”

Michael’s professional commitment to Catholic Education is clear, as he notes, “At its heart, Catholic education centers love and justice to co-create a learning environment that affirms human dignity and solidarity as a foundation for engagement, learning, and formation.” Michael is excited to join the Roche Center team because of its “clear commitment to justice and equity, grounded in Catholic and Ignatian values, to animate collaborative opportunities with educators, students, families, and communities that advance holistic opportunities for learning and formation.”

Outside of work, Michael loves spending time with his wife, Alexandra and two little girls-- Maeve (3) and Rosalie (1). Together they regularly enjoy the outdoors in their local city park and other natural settings. Michael also enjoys spending time with extended family and friends, particularly when it involves good food, laughter and storytelling, music, and the opportunity to be outside. “As an educator who is always learning, you can also often find me listening to NPR, reading, or exploring a variety of media to nourish my hunger for learning and pushing me to think about things in new ways.”

Welcome Michael to the Roche Center and back to Boston College!