For some people teaching is a job, for Aileen O’Rourke it’s a passion.
After 34 years in education, O’Rourke has taught English to French students, French to English students and delivered supplies to impoverished kids in Africa.
For the last two years, O’Rourke, who had previously taught in New Jersey, has been a fourth grade teacher at Forestbrook Elementary School, where her work earned her Rockin’ Jump Teacher of the Month honors for May.
“I have always loved being around children and teaching them new things,” O’Rourke said of her desire to continue teaching. “I am motivated by the students. It is amazing when you look at your students and you see that lightbulb go on in their head … I don’t believe in just teaching my students the fundamentals but helping them grow emotionally and socially.”
Ironically, it was a child who introduced her to the other great passion of her life – running. On a family vacation, a 9-year-old boy asked O’Rourke if she was a runner, and she said, “No.”
After sleeping on it for a night, O’Rourke, who had always exercised, gave it a shot, running one block before becoming winded, but it wouldn’t be her last jog. Within a week, she was running three miles, launching a commitment that has led her to considerable accomplishment.
“I love to run,” O’Rourke said. “It makes me feel alive, motivated and stress free.”
For many people, running a 5k, 10k, mud race, marathon or a 50-mile race sound stressful, but not O’Rourke. She has run a 5k in as little as 20:52 and completed a marathon in 3 hours, 37 minutes, meaning she averaged an 8:16 mile.
To celebrate her 50th birthday, O’Rourke completed a 50-mile race in Lake Canandaigua, N.Y., on a hilly course, calling it one of her best running days ever.
Three years ago, she took a trip to Africa with 65 other women and they ran from village to village, delivering school supplies that allowed children to attend school and learn.
O’Rourke’s passion for education and running, has brought her across the globe but on a daily basis, Forestbrook Elementary School students are the beneficiary of her experience.