Martha O'Neill oral history interview, 2005 August 12
Martha O'Neill shares her experiences as a drama teacher at Piedmont Open Middle School in Charlotte. She describes the characteristics of open education as it was understood and practiced within the school, including a focus on the whole child, an integrated student-centered curriculum, an emphasis on group work and cooperation, an appreciation for the role of arts education, acceptance of diversity within the student body, and respect for students as individuals. During the interview Ms. O’Neill recalls many anecdotes from her time teaching at Piedmont, and praises principal Stephanie Counts for her leadership. Under Counts's direction, Piedmont became a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. While Ms. O'Neill is a strong advocate for open education, she believes that it would be impossible to implement the open philosophy in the current educational climate. Ms. O’Neill concludes with a discussion of what she sees as the biggest challenges in education at the time of interview, highlighting high stakes testing, low levels of teacher compensation, and the lack of prestige associated with teaching.