Thomas Owen McConnell
1961 - 2021
Thomas Owen McConnell, 60, of Essex, Vermont passed away peacefully after a short illness at the University of Vermont Medical Center on May 6, 2021.
He was born in Madison, and grew up in Cambria, Wisconsin. Tom was a 1979 graduate of Cambria-Friesland High School and a 1985 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, earning a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education. In 1999, he earned a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the Antioch University. Anyone who knew Tom, even slightly, knew that he was a lifelong fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Tom began his teaching career in 1987 at Springfield High School in Vermont. He was a class advisor for several classes and held several positions, including president, in the Springfield Teachers’ Association. While living in Springfield, Tom was an active community member, serving on various boards, volunteering at the recycling center, and teaching at the Community College of Vermont.
He married Jennifer Spalding McConnell in 1991. Together they enjoyed gardening, traveling, golfing, and welcoming friends and family to their home.
In 2000, Tom and Jennifer moved north to the Burlington, Vermont area, where he took a teaching job at Essex High School. Tom earned the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards Certification in 2002. It is the highest professional credential a teacher can earn and less than 3% hold this certification in the United States. And Tom earned it twice! He had a passion for money and finance, and taught Financial Literacy to high school students for several years. He served as the co-coordinator of the Teacher Mentor Program for Essex High School, helping countless new teachers learn and hone their craft. Because of Tom’s passion for finance and the well-being of people in retirement, he served as the teacher representative to the Vermont State Teacher Retirement Board. He retired from teaching in June 2020.
Tom was a Master Gardener in reality and life. And like a gardener with plants, he created and nurtured relationships with skill, effort, and tenacity – spanning both time and distance. His extensive professional accomplishments were only exceeded by his social ones. The impact Tom had on his students, colleagues, classmates, family and friends cannot be overstated and his colorful presence will be missed and remembered by all who knew and loved him.
Tom is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jennifer Spalding McConnell, his sisters Cat (Karen) of Bath, Maine, Kim (Joe Durkin), Mary, Shawn (Myron Elgersma), and his brothers Tim (Michele), James (Kate), Matt (Diana), Josh (Kate) and Rob (Tracey), all from Wisconsin, and a large and loving in-law family. He was predeceased in death by his father, Robert B. McConnell, his mother Sally (Larson) McConnell, and his sisters Deborah and Pamela.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held on Sunday, July 18, 2021 at the Garden Barn at Lang Farm in Essex, Vermont from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Vermont Division of the Blind and Visually Impaired (60 Kimball Ave., South Burlington, VT 05403 (vabvi.org) or the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, 1275 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309 (bgca.org).
Arrangements are in care of Corbin and Palmer Funeral Home, 9 Pleasant Street, Essex Junction, VT.
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