Bart O’Brien attended Sierra College for two years, where he received his AA degree in Social Science in 1971. He then transferred to UC Berkeley, where he earned a degree in History. He went to graduate school at UC Davis, and earned a Masters Degree in History and a teaching credential.
After a short stint working for Continental Insurance in San Francisco, he returned to Colfax to teach summer school in the summer of 1977. Over the course of the next fourteen years, he taught a variety of subjects at Colfax High, including Health, English, Driver Education, History, California History, and American Government. He also coached track, cross country, and skiing.
In 1984, he was selected as one of the first three mentor teachers in the Placer Union High School District. In 1985, he was named the Placer County Teacher of the Year. During this time, he also began to assume increasing administrative tasks, including leadership positions in the Teachers’ Association and the California/Nevada Interscholastic Ski Federation. He also became active as a trainer of teachers, attaining certification and participating in workshops—first as a participant and later as a trainer in cooperative learning and critical thinking. He worked on the County, State, and National levels in these areas.
In 1990, in addition to his teaching position at Colfax High School, O’Brien took on a half-time position at the District level (half-time) in the area of staff development. In 1991, he moved to the District Office full-time, working in staff development and grant writing. He worked with the new Superintendent on implementing the Quality Schools Model in the Placer Union High School District. (This model has been recognized for its achievement by a large number of both State and National organizations.) In 1993, he took on the position of Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services (personnel and staff development) and in 2001; O’Brien was selected as the Superintendent of the Placer Union High School District.
Throughout his career in the Placer Union High School District, O’Brien has been active in his community. He has been a school board member and a member of the Board of Directors of the Colfax High School Hall of Fame (since its inception). He has served as a youth coach and has presented at conferences and workshops in more than forty cities across the United States. O’Brien is an active member and Paul Harris Fellow in the Auburn Rotary Club. In 2007, he received the Club’s “Harold Weaver Award,” named in honor of the longtime Sierra College President. Mr. O’Brien was selected Placer County Human Resources Administrator of the Year, and also was nominated for the State Human Resources Administrator of the Year. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Auburn Boys and Girls Club and is the Chairman of the Auburn Community Cancer Endowment Fund that has raised $1.5 million and endowed the Basic Science Chair at the UC Davis Medical Center.
While at Sierra College, O’Brien was mentored by some excellent instructors, including Fritz Blodgett, George Sessions, and Larry Wight. They introduced him to many of the passions that have enriched his life. Sessions introduced him to rock climbing in Yosemite, and O’Brien has gone on to climb peaks on six continents in the great mountain ranges of the world. He has ascended peaks in the Sierra, the Canadian Rockies, the Alps, the Andes, Africa, and in Nepal.
Mr. O’Brien was selected as the Sierra College Alumni Association President in March of this year.
O’Brien has been married for 35 years and has two grown daughters living in Placer County.