Welcoming New Spanish Teacher Quincy O’Neal
New Spanish teacher Quincy O’Neal, wearing an FC Barcelona scarf and jersey to show his support for his favorite soccer team and his home country.
By Isabel A.
April 23, 2019
Quincy O’Neal joined the Westridge faculty this past semester and is already deeply involved in the school community. After Anthony Seidman’s February departure, O’Neal has been hired as a long-term Upper School Spanish substitute teacher for the remainder of the year. If you haven’t already seen O’Neal chatting with students around campus, you might have spotted him at Varsity soccer’s CIF semifinal match or in the audience of the Urinetown musical.
Having lived in four countries, O’Neal has had the opportunity to learn about many diverse cultures and ways of life. He was born in Madrid, but he and his mother moved to New Orleans to be near his grandparents shortly after. “I was born into world politics,” O’Neal revealed; his mother was a U.S. diplomat, assigned to positions in Rome and later in Buenos Aires. It was in Argentina, where he lived from ages 10 to 14, that O’Neal learned Spanish and developed a greater appreciation of hispanic culture.
As a young kid traveling throughout the world in the 1980s, O’Neal did not regularly find himself in the presence of other Black people. Sports played an important role in his childhood because they created a close-knit community for him. After first learning about Michael Jordan and watching him play on Argentine television, O’Neal “demanded that [he] be in the United States for high school.” Shortly after, he moved back to Maryland to attend Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and to be near the famous basketball player’s magic.
His experience in the nation’s capital, as well as previously in Italy and Argentina, sparked his curiosity about world history and global politics. When he enrolled at Pomona College, O’Neal decided to pursue his passion for history academically, majoring in History with a concentration on Africa and African diaspora. O’Neal’s interest in the subject stems from his belief that “it gives you the foundation. You can figure out how not to be lost.”
Throughout those four years, O’Neal was a role model on his campus, organizing school protests and becoming the first male employee of the women’s union at the Claremont Colleges consortium. After graduating, he took these leadership skills with him into his first job as a teacher at John Muir middle school in South Central Los Angeles. O’Neal loved being in a position to mentor and empower students who did not often encounter college-educated individuals. He quickly came to realize, however, that perhaps the most effective and meaningful way to change the school environment for his students was through politics. As a result, O’Neal became involved in the Democratic Party, accepting a position as California’s Vice Chair of the African American Caucus. Although he was told he could become an elected official, he “wanted the action and the change” that the messy and wealth-oriented world of politics could not offer him. O’Neal once again found himself involved in education, working for nonprofits and schools, when he eventually found his way to Westridge.
Asked about his initial impressions of Westridge, O’Neal smiled. When describing our school to his friends, O’Neal explained, he tells them that “those girls are already in the deep end...places where adults don’t even want to touch.” O’Neal himself embodies academic dedication and leadership, and fosters the environment of deep curiosity on campus. We welcome Quincy O’Neal as a new member of our Westridge family and are so grateful for the unique perspective he brings into the classroom to share with his students.