Tier Two

Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District

Q & A with Retiring Principal Colleen O’Neill-Mangan

Although she has been at Todd Elementary School for only four years, Colleen O’Neill-Mangan has certainly left her mark on the school. Regrettably, she will be retiring this summer, so we caught up with her to find out what makes our district special, what advice she has for students and why working at Todd has been a dream come true for her.

How long have you been a principal at the school, and what have you done prior to your role? I have spent 30 years in education: 13 years as a kindergarten, first and second grade teacher and teacher-on-special-assignment in Yorktown Central School District, 13 Years as assistant principal/teacher-in-charge in Scarsdale School District and four years as principal at Todd. 

What are some memorable moments from your career at the school? When I think back over the last four years, many memorable moments come to mind, but I’d have to count our recent in-person, 5th grade Wizard of Oz show, band, orchestra and chorus concerts among the most memorable. We were so happy to welcome the parents and students back into the school for a live performance after a two-and-a-half year absence. The students celebrated their accomplishments and found such joy and happiness in giving the gift of theater and music to an audience – they were spectacular!   

What makes Briarcliff Manor School District special? So much credit for our success happens behind the scenes in ways that are not always obvious to the community. The Todd staff continues to work hard every day to offer a robust education, while supporting the social/emotional well-being of our young students. Designing a rigorous educational experience and curriculum is the intellectual challenge of the job, and our teachers take great joy and fulfillment in being designers, scholars, and experts on their students.  

Can you share a funny incident that happened? On two separate occasions, while assisting on the morning car line, dogs jumped out of their cars and I chased them. The dogs were safely caught, we all had a big laugh, and I was able to add dogcatcher to my resume!  

Ms. O'Neill-Mangan with Assistant Principal Anne Marie Foley

What are your plans for retirement? I plan to travel with my husband – Ireland is our first trip. I also plan to spend time on Cape Cod with my children and grandchildren, read for pleasure and play golf again. I hope to connect with an organization and teach reading to adults and volunteer at a local foodbank or family facility. 

If you can pass any wisdom to students and/or teachers at the school what would it be? For teachers: Change is exciting and scary. Curriculum, content, and instructional strategies change over time. Educational research and data are forever changing and challenging the status quo, so try to remain open and curious to new possibilities. Change can be the key to building and strengthening confidence, resilience, and perseverance….If you can, learn to explore what presents itself and embrace the change. For students: You will never regret being kind to one another.  

Ms. O'Neill-Mangan with her family

What is your favorite quote? Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” This quote has been particularly important the last 2 ½ years as we’ve successfully navigated the pandemic together as a community. 

Personally, and professionally, it has been a dream come true to be principal of Todd School for four years, a true pleasure every day to be of service to this wonderful community. I am proud of all we have accomplished even as two-and-a-half of my four years were impacted by a worldwide pandemic and everything that experience involves. Great things are happening at Todd, and I have no doubt they will continue to evolve and improve in the capable hands of Mrs. Jessica Michaelidis and Mrs. Anne Marie Foley.