Lower School music teacher and choir director Katie O’Neill was inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame at her high school alma mater, The Steward School in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 26, 2023. She is among the school’s second class of inductees, recognized both for their contributions while at Steward and for their continued commitment to the fine arts after graduation.
O’Neill has been teaching music at Ravenscroft since 2015 and in total for 14 years. In addition, she is the director of the Acorn Choir for the Raleigh Youth Choir and teaches piano lessons outside of school. She also performs professionally when the opportunity arises.
Craig Smith, Steward’s Performing Arts Chair, said O’Neill “jumped to the front of the pack of musicians” as the panel worked to determine their slate of inductees this year.
“In her introduction of Katie at the ceremony, former chorus teacher Bonnie Anderson recounted how Katie was not only active in Middle and Upper School music in her time at Steward, but she also assisted Mrs. Anderson with Lower School music events like Talent Night, Winter Program and Grandparents Day Program, displaying from an early age her capacity for music education,” he said. “In her time at Steward, Katie was known as a musician, and after Steward she stayed focused on music at Meredith College, UNC-G, West Smithfield Elementary School and Ravenscroft School.”
O’Neill said she was “completely shocked” when she was notified that she would be among the 2023 class of inductees but that the recognition reinforces for her that music education is where she belongs.
“I absolutely love what I do and love coming to work every day,” she said. “I am blessed to have found a career that is truly rewarding as I watch students accomplish their goals in my classroom and as they continue to grow.”
“Katie is part of a really great, connected Lower School fine arts faculty, and her enthusiasm and her joy are contagious for everyone in that building,” Director of Fine Arts David McChesney said. “We’re so proud as a department to be able to attract and retain teachers of Katie’s caliber.”
In her induction remarks, Anderson — who was O’Neill’s teacher and mentor at Steward — said that seeing photos of O’Neill with her smiling music students gave her “the greatest gift a teacher can receive.”
“Katie sets a great example for taking an art that you love and creating a life around it,” Smith said, “and we are thrilled that she is now a member of our Fine Arts Hall of Fame.”