Team Spotlight: Tara Eagan ’12

Team Spotlight: Tara Eagan ’12

Thursday, May 12, 2022

We’re always happy when alumni come back to visit and volunteer. Now, we are especially thrilled that Tara Eagan ’12, a graduate of University of Rochester, has returned to Harlem Academy full time as our elementary school science teacher.

Why did you want to become a teacher?

This is my second year teaching but my first at Harlem Academy. The motivation to be in education stemmed from the amazing women of color who assisted in my journey to higher education. After graduating from Harlem Academy, I attended predominantly white institutions, which was a cultural shock for me. Through mentorship, I was offered a safe haven. It made me feel like I could do anything. Being a teacher gives me the ability to offer that same feeling to children in my classroom. I want my students to see themselves in me. I want them to be able to look at me and say, "I can do that, too!"

Why is Harlem Academy the right place for you?

As a 2012 graduate, I already knew the mission and values of Harlem Academy, as well as the familial feeling that the school offered. Not much has changed, which is a great thing. It feels like I came back home. I believe our new school building offers current and future students a place to grow.

How do you make learning fun?

I try to make science as hands-on as possible to keep students interested. For example, we went to Central Park for our unit on the earth and sun to discover the length and direction of our shadows. Students used chalk to trace each other's shadows. They loved that outdoor activity. Rather than having to remember something from a textbook, they were able to refer to what they’d actually done.

Why do you love working with our students?

My students are full of energy and always longing for more. They teach me something new every day, and that feeling makes me enjoy coming to work. Harlem Academy students are ambitious and highly capable of achieving whatever they want to. They’re so inquisitive – always wondering how and why something is the way it is. Their motivation to be excellent is inspiring.