By Miraya Aggarwal, Feature Editor, Sophia Bainos Linder, Staff Reporter
Mrs. Tara Oswald is a new teacher from Colorado joining Dubai American Academy as High School Dean of Students. An educator with 26 years of experience in education at all levels, Mrs.Oswald joins the school with her husband, Mr.Jesse Oswald, a science and technology teacher, and her daughters Ryan & Ainsley. The Pawprint sat down with Mrs.Oswald to talk about her transition to Dubai American Academy.
What are your first impressions of Dubai American Academy? How is it different from your old school?
My first impression of Dubai American Academy is of an academic institution where staff members truly care about their students and consistently work towards creating a vibrant and welcoming school community. I also believe that everyone at this school seems to be very busy and on the hustle at all times, which I appreciate and see as evidence of a dynamic environment. Nevertheless, it has been somewhat of a challenge for myself to find my place within this school’s dynamic. I observed that students at Dubai American Academy genuinely appear to care for each other and are empathetic and understanding, which is undoubtedly unique and special to the building.
What in your life has led to you becoming a teacher? A teacher growing up or a certain experience?
Growing up, I had outstanding teachers who shaped my understanding of learning as artistry. This led me to enjoy my days at school and inspired me to become a teacher. As I see it, being a teacher is the closest experience to being a student again. I enjoy school as an environment and love spending time with students.
What has been an interesting experience you have had with your students?
Before my time at Dubai American Academy, I enjoyed taking my students on leadership retreats, tours, and camps. These activities allowed me to see my students outside of the classroom, and just being kids. I believe that these experiences allowed me to know my students differently and understand them better. One of the many trips I organized was an excursion to Disneyland, Florida. Which I viewed as an opportunity for my students to take a break from the “the responsibilities of school” and embrace their childhood.
I’ve heard you like exploring new foods. What is your favorite cuisine?
My favorite cuisine is Thai Food; I generally enjoy trying new cuisines and enriching my palette.
If you could go back to yourself at 17yrs old what would you do?
My dream as a seventeen-year-old was to become a news anchor. Going back, I would tell myself to stick with it and keep at it. However, I can be impatient, which led me to give up on my dream too soon. In fact, I did not always want to be a teacher; it was something that piqued my interest later in life. I wished I could explain to myself at seventeen; that the things that seem so big at 17 will not matter by the time I am 27. This is also advice I impart to students at Dubai American Academy.
What was your college experience at the University of New Mexico?
As a student, I enjoyed academics and received excellent grades while still being involved in my school’s athletic department. My first real college experience only came at the University of New Mexico, where I attended graduate school for a Master’s degree in Communication. Since the college where I received my Bachelor’s degree was a commuter school and felt a lot like a Community College. At this university, I had the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world, which led me to become a more open-minded individual.
Was It different from that at Colorado State University?
I pursued and received a Master’s degree in Education Leadership from Colorado State University. This was a program with only about 20 peers, which meant I got to know them very well. I was thankful for the opportunity to teach at this school.
Is family an integral part of your life, where do you fit in the family dynamic?
I place family above everything in my life. However, within the family dynamic, I often have to take the role of ‘Bad Cop,’ meaning that I am frequently the one who has to put my foot down to keep the family running.
What are your plans for the future as Dean at DAA?
I am still getting used to the new environment, so my plans at Dubai American Academy are still developing. By the end of the year, my main goal is to eliminate the negative connotation of ‘going to the dean’s office’ instead I want to present myself as available and accessible when a student needs help or support, or simply someone with whom to speak too. I look forward to becoming a part of this fantastic community at Dubai American Academy.