alumni spotlight

Jennifer Tagarelis OstayanName: Jennifer Tagarelis Ostayan ’06, ’11, EdD ’16

Regis degrees: Bachelor of Arts in History and Elementary Education, Master of Arts in Teaching, Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership

Current job: Library/Lead Teacher at Waltham Public Schools

Current city: Waltham, Massachusetts


How did your experiences and your education at Regis shape your life after college? 
Whether it was relationships formed with professors who I am still in touch with today to participating in the dance team, those experiences and lessons learned have stayed with me to this day. I often find myself in situations at work and think back to what advice I would have gotten at Regis.

You are a three-time Regis graduate. What kept you coming back to your alma mater for your advanced degrees? 
Regis has always felt like home to me. When considering other institutions for my advanced degrees, they were always held in comparison to Regis. I actually started my Master of Arts in Teaching degree at another institution and left to come back to Regis after a semester.  The requirements and courses were far less rigorous, my professors didn’t take the time to really know their students, and I knew that I would get so much more out of my degree by coming back to Regis. For my EdD, I actually had to wait a few years for the program to begin and I am very proud to have been a part of first cohort of graduates.

What piece of advice do you have for current Regis students? 
Cherish the time you have at Regis. Learn from and build relationships with those around you. You will miss being able to see and talk with them daily.

How has the Waltham Public School system adapted to teaching in the COVID era? 
Although the mode of teaching during the pandemic is very different, the “how, what, and why” at its core is still the same. Our youngest grades are attending school in a hybrid model (in school every other week) while our older grades are fully remote. I teach all grade levels in the library so it takes some balancing to make sure both in-person and remote students are receiving high-quality instruction. But my day-to-day pedagogy is still firmly rooted in what I learned during my time at Regis: relationships before content. This has become even more critical now, as we balance students’ safety and social emotional health with rigorous and differentiated instruction.

What motivates you during these unprecedented times? 
Seeing our students thrive despite the circumstances is what keeps me motivated each day. The new safety protocols for our in-person students were overwhelming at first for teachers and students, but a sense of normalcy did eventually return. There has been a learning curve for remote instruction and learning as well, but we have seen so many bright spots. Education has changed rapidly in the past six months, moving forward in ways that would have taken decades without COVID as a catalyst. Things are certainly not ideal but our students are incredibly resilient, and at the end of the day, even with a mask, kids are still kids.