O’Keefe and Porter leave after semester in pursuit of new career plans


O’Keefe plans on moving to Florida after teaching for 15 years at Pioneer.

The already-chaotic school may become even more chaotic for some students as economics teacher Whitney O’Keefe and English teacher Allen Porter leave their positions at Pioneer following the first semester. 

“It’s different for me to leave at the semester mark than it is for most people because I don’t have a year-long class,” said O’Keefe. “I have micro(economics) first semester and macro(economics) second semester, and then my basic economics classes are only one semester, so it made sense for me to do that.” 

While this was a unique reason to leave at the semester mark, O’Keefe also shared a sentiment that resonated with more teachers. 

“A lot of it, to be honest, was COVID and teaching online on Zoom. I’ve never disliked something that I’ve done more than teaching on Zoom,” she said. 

Porter, a long-time Ann Arbor Public School faculty member, felt similarly. “I just felt it was time. I felt stress was impacting my health so this was an obvious and smart choice,” he said. “A lot goes into that, of course, but that’s the best way to describe it. I also wanted to see what other opportunities await in life. I am fairly young and have a lot of energy for new pursuits, I feel.” 

The new pursuits in question? 

No definitive plans yet,” said Porter. “Most of all I want to spend time helping my daughters grow and be mentored as their father. That is very important to me. I even hope to sub from time to time next fall and beyond as time allows.”

O’Keefe, on the other hand, has a plan to move to Florida for the rest of the winter. “I think that I will move back and forth between here and Florida, so [I will probably do] something relatively flexible… hopefully to do with women’s health and wellness. I toyed with the idea of opening a yoga studio in Florida,” she said. “In terms of my lifestyle, I don’t have children and I don’t have a lot of obligations, so I’m lucky to be able to make this decision financially and freedom-wise.” 

While both Porter and O’Keefe are both looking forward to a change of pace, their time at AAPS was well spent. 

“For 15 years, I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world to do what I was doing. I love teaching,” said O’Keefe. “It was so much fun every day.”

Porter’s time spanned across different schools in the district. 

I have been in several different roles in my time here in the AAPS,” said Porter. “I was one of the original teachers that taught the first classes at Skyline. I have also been an athletic coordinator at Skyline and at Ann Arbor Open. I was also Skyline’s first Rising Scholar Coordinator.” 

This variety of positions has offered Porter the chance to make connections all across the district. “I will miss the relationships I have built with students,” he said. “One thing I felt I was good at was building and bridging relationships to help kids feel confident in what they were learning. Hopefully they enjoyed what and how I taught them. I will also miss my teaching colleagues.” 

Will Hart will be stepping into O’Keefe’s place as a substitute and Matthew Johnson from Community High School will be taking Porter’s position at Pioneer.