By Shin Park
For the past six years, she saw Monday morning sun rays dip into the windows in front of the double doors that open to the east gymnasium. During first period, she saw students running up and down the gym floors, arms stretching to their fullest lengths to tap the shoulder of their opposing team members. In her free periods, she saw her co-workers in the physical education department sharing a laugh over a joke told by one of the coach’s basketball players. But now, Mrs. Tara Schiereck’s Mondays are a little different.
Though she still sees Monday morning sun rays and her first period gym students, she also sees a new name plate adorning her desk in room 327: “Tara Schiereck, Dean.” After the passing of Dean Sally Passarella this past November, Mrs. Schiereck was appointed by the Board of Education as the new dean. Now, she sometimes sees students and teachers bearing problems and worries—worn-out eyes and spirits looking for an outlet to unload their stress. But other times, she sees the same people come back to her with the biggest grins on their faces, eager to share news about a good grade or a new friendship.
Mrs. Schiereck began her physical education career at Adelphi University, where she studied physical and health education. She received her administration degree at Queens College. Prior to teaching at South, she taught physical education, health, and drivers education classes at Great Neck North High School and New Hyde Park High School.
Her inspiration for becoming a physical education teacher stemmed from her love of sports. She adores playing lacrosse, field hockey, and basketball and enjoys going to Orange Theory Fitness, where the gym classes incorporate running, rowing, and weights. During her years in school, she was always enthralled by the idea of teaching physical education; today, she loves her job of teaching students to strive for an active and healthy lifestyle.
Her favorite memory at South was from two years ago when she attended the graduation ceremony for the class of 2016. Four years before, she had been the health teacher for all the new freshmen, and she had developed deep and special bonds with many of those students. She still keeps in touch with many of them today; she even inspired one of her students to major in physical education in college.
Mrs. Schiereck’s primary goal as the new dean is to provide a safe environment in which everyone can feel comfortable speaking about his or her problems.“If there is anything I can do to help to make a student’s or teacher’s day better, I hope they know I am always here to talk,”she said.
As the new dean, Mrs. Schiereck also hopes to continue Dean Passarella’s legacy of spreading kindness and compassion to all corners of South High. She wants to continue making the building an amazing place for both the students and the staff. (She is in charge of senior parking for the next semester, Dean Schiereck also wants to remind seniors that “parking is a privilege.”)