Milissa O’Neil Selected as 2025 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year

Published on Tuesday, June 04, 2024

WARWICK, R.I. – During a surprise announcement at a school assembly at Oakland Beach Elementary School today, Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Superintendent Lynn Dambruch, and 2024 State Teacher of the Year Aimée Couto announced the selection of Milissa O’Neil as the 2025 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. Milissa began her career in education twenty years ago as an early childhood educator before joining Warwick Public Schools as an elementary and special educator fulltime in 2014. She has taught kindergarten at Oakland Beach Elementary School for the last six years. 

Congratulations to Milissa and the entire Warwick community on this distinguished honor,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Not only is Milissa a leader within the classroom and school district, she also serves our students through the Learn365RI program at the Boys and Girls Club. Thank you, Milissa, for your impeccable service both in and outside of the classroom. We wish you great success in the year ahead.” 

“Congratulations to Milissa O’Neil, who is a shining example of the wonderful, caring professionals working in education and in our Warwick schools. The impact teachers have on their students lasts long after the school year. In fact, it was a teacher who first sparked my interest in politics and government, which ultimately set me on the career path I chose to follow,” said Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi. “I am so proud that a Warwick teacher was selected for this well-deserved honor.”

Lauded by her peers as a “dedicated” and "dynamic” educator, O’Neil is a leader within the school, district, and state. An advocate for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Mathematics), the veteran educator has worked closely with the district on math and science curriculum development and is a member of the RIDE STEAM Advisory Board. O’Neil serves as a Teacher Leader within GEMS-Net, a research-practice partnership between the Feinstein College of Education at the University of Rhode Island and 13 Rhode Island school districts. As a Teacher Leader, O’Neil attends professional development to grow as a science educator and provides support to colleagues. O’Neil also serves on the executive committee of the Oakland Beach Parent Teachers Organization and as chairperson of the Oakland Beach Green Team. In this role, O’Neil helped her school earn more than $100,000 in RIDE’s Learning Inside Out Outdoor Classroom grant funding.  

“Milissa’s enthusiasm for her students, families, and the teaching profession is admirable. It is clear she has made a lasting impact in Warwick,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We look forward to partnering and learning from Milissa in her new role as Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. Congratulations!” 

Within the classroom, O'Neil is a strong advocate for social emotional learning, cultivating an atmosphere she and her students fondly call a “school family,” where each member assumes a pivotal role in both learning and classroom management. She crafts her lessons to be developmentally appropriate, fostering student discourse and critical thinking while ensuring optimal participation and differentiation to meet the needs of all learners. 

"Mrs. O’Neil goes way above and beyond and is a shining example of excellence in teaching, leadership, selflessness, and professional learning," said Superintendent Lynn Dambruch.

O'Neil holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Wheelock College and Early Childhood Special Education certifications from Rhode Island College and Providence College. O’Neil also holds a PreK-2 Early Childhood Certification from the Community College of Rhode Island. 

As Teacher of the Year, O’Neil will work with RIDE throughout the 2024-2025 school year to support education statewide, including strengthening professional development and engaging classrooms. She is also eligible to represent Rhode Island as the National Teacher of the Year. 


Milissa O'Neil named RI State Teacher of the Year - Group Photo
2024 Rhode Island State Teacher of the Year Aimee Couto, Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, and 2025 RI Teacher of the Year Milissa O'Neil
Milissa O'Neil after announcement
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi and Milissa O'Neil