BEGIN COVID-19 Banner END COVID-19 Banner

Custom Class: header-search-container

Custom Class: header-utility-container

Custom Class: mobile-menu-toggle

Know Your Pelicans

Meet Bessie Oster

Middle School Dean of Student Life and Heath Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

At Packer, it feels possible for both students and adults to try new things. For instance, I was able to develop a Wintersession course called The Art of Bicycle Maintenance. Students get their hands dirty (literally) learning to re-build salvaged bikes to donate to kids across NYC. In truth, I think I am always striving to create experiences for our Middle Schoolers that I wish I'd had as a kid — and I love that many of my students and colleagues at Packer are up for the adventure.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

Teaching sex ed for the past seven years at Packer has provided many moments of levity — though out of respect for my students, I will never tell!

So, instead I will just say that one of the highlights of my year so far was working with Seventh Graders to build a boat for our Refugee Crisis Equity Simulation. After the event I heard Eighth Graders describe gaining empathy for refugees, a better understanding of the crisis, and a desire to undertake next steps to support refugees in our city.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

In the process of developing the Refugee Crisis Equity Simulation, Director of Diversity and Equity Semeka Smith-Williams and I went to the Ai Wei Wei exhibit, "Laundromat," and I wept looking at children's shoes left behind at a bombed out camp in Greece — thinking about just how fortunate my own children are to live in a stable, safe world.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

I'm a pretty open person, so there's probably not much people don't know. As a committed over-sharer, I can't pick just one fact, so here are a few random ones... I'm vegetarian with a bacon exception; I was in a circus and I can walk on stilts; I studied economics; my cat is toilet trained; my public health work has taken me from Packer to Tokyo to Rwanda to Kenya; and my greatest adventure so far is being a mom.

Explore More