A Skokie native and Niles North High School graduate, O’Malley noted he was always intrigued by the possibility of instructing children.
“I felt school was a positive, happy place, as it should be,” he said. “When I ended up at a school, I wanted to make sure I was a teacher that remained cognizant of the things that allowed me to succeed as a student.”
O’ Malley teaches fifth grade in a science-themed classroom where children are allowed to handle fossils and artifacts, and he presides over the elementary school’s annual Science Fair and Science Olympiad.
“Kids, I have found, are naturally drawn to science, and to me, science is a hook that draws kids into education, whether it is reading or writing. It inspires them and it has really been a tool to help kids succeed,” O’Malley said.
He is also the sponsor of the school’s chess club.
O’ Malley’s efforts extend beyond Morton Grove as the Grayslake resident is an assistant coach on Grayslake Central’s High School football and track teams. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher, an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University and teaches at a satellite location of College of Lake County.
His Golden Apple nomination follows other previous honors including being one of four teachers, O’ Malley received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from President Barack Obama.
O’Malley emphasized he loves supporting and interacting with his students.
“I get to know them as individuals and then responding to whatever they need as an individual to continue to succeed is super important but it is also fun to process who they are, what they are interested in and what needs they have and do my best to provide them with those needs, whatever they might be,” he said.
O’Malley’s Golden Apple nomination was enthusiastically greeted at his home school.
“Dr. O’Malley has had an incredible impact on the students of District 69. His ability to build strong and meaningful relationships, engage students in innovative and creative ways in the classroom, and his commitment to supporting community events is truly inspiring,” Edison School Principal Andy Carpenter said in a statement. “We are so proud of this recognition for Dr. O’Malley!”