Interviewer: Dustin Walker, MEd Practicum Student
Interviewee: Julie Oster, MEd
Meet Mrs. Oster! Mrs. Oster is an ASU Alumni and acting principal for Queen Creek High School located in Queen Creek, AZ. She oversees a student population of over 2,200 along with all certified and classified staff.
Did you always know you wanted to study education? If not, what were influences that guided you into this career path?
Both of my parents were educators so growing up I was convinced that I would NOT become an educator. About 2 years into my courses at ASU, I realized that I did not want to be an attorney and when reviewing my credits I realized that I could switch over to education and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Education with an emphasis in history and still graduate on time. It wasn't until I conducted one of my internships at Queen Creek High School with teacher Kylee Bean, I realized the impact that a passionate teacher could have in a student's life.
What was your career track and what steps did you take to get there?
My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts in Education, and I taught high school history courses for 8 years. I ended up being a counselor for 5 years. In my 3rd year as counselor I began my Masters in Educational Leadership. As I was working on my educational leadership degree, I took an assistant principal position before rolling over into the dean of students position that school year.became available for the following school year. After two years, the QCHS principal position became available and I am now in my second year. I have also come to realize that with each position that I have held within the world of education, I am able to see things through a different lens, which in turn helps me when it comes to decision making.
What are the lows and highs as a principal? Please describe your work life.
My lows as a principal would be the staff discipline. I absolutely hate disciplining staff members but recognize that the worst part of my job is also probably the most important part. Also, I have always been a natural people pleaser so it was a hard adjustment having staff members who truly dislike you. When I first went into leadership, my dad, who was also a high school principal, told me that if the answer to every question was yes they wouldn't need principals. My skin has thickened and I have come to realize that not everyone will agree with the decisions I make. My goal however, is to get everyone to believe in who I am as a leader and even if they may not agree with a decision I have made, they will know that I was making a decision based on what I truly felt was best for kids.
I enjoy being out on campus, talking to students, and watching class lessons (the good lessons make me miss being a teacher though). I love looking at teaching as an art. There are always ways to grow and improve and I can honestly say that every day I leave work, I am a better educator then when I first pulled into the parking lot that morning. With that being said, I am usually completely wiped at the end of each day and don't recognize all of the growth opportunities and positive highlights until the next morning.
What advice would you give a current student studying education to stand out if they were interested in being a principal or school leader?
I would say that it's important to build relationships and to seek out ways to demonstrate your leadership potential. If you do these things on a consistent basis you never know what opportunities may come your way.