Queen Doreen: Oswaks walks a new path

Click to watch: Oswaks says goodbye (Part 1, Part 2)

This year, Oak Park High School has five staff members taking a step towards retirement. One of these faculty members is Doreen Oswaks, a Special Education Case Manager. Oswaks has worked as a teacher for 27 years, has been at OPHS for 19 years and is stepping down from her position and into retirement.

Oswaks shared the ways that teaching has made her a different person throughout the course of her life, as well as how teaching has shifted her worldview.

“I am changed daily by being a teacher; new insights, new technology, understanding new developments and innovations that can assist students to be their best,” Oswaks wrote to the Talon. “The nature of the teaching career requires flexibility; being open to change and understanding a changing world with a variety of perspectives. OPHS has helped me to realize that the world is in good hands for the future.”

Rebecca Custodio, the department chair of the Special Education Department at OPHS, shared Oswaks’s impact on the functionality of the program.

“Ms. Oswaks’s professionalism and knowledge shine through in all that she does for the students, the program and the school,” Custodio wrote to the Talon. “After so many years, I continue to learn from her.”

While working with the students, Oswaks also worked with assistants, such as Anna Strauch. Assistants helped Oswaks run activities for their students; Oswaks shared that theirs is a very active program, with the students often completing culinary projects in their functional kitchen or growing plants in the garden.

“Doreen works tirelessly to create an educational program that is best suited for her students’ learning styles,” Anna Strauch said. “She is extremely generous with her time and talent and has made a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of students.”

During the OPUSD Retirement Reception, Oswaks was recognized for her contributions to the school. Kellie Gross, another Special Education teacher, introduced Oswaks and gave some background as to how she has helped improve their community within the school.

“Doreen has always set the highest standard for herself and those with whom she works,” Gross said. “Students and colleagues alike, she supports us all in reaching our fullest potential.”

Oswaks conveyed that she will miss her job, but take with her the memories and experiences that she has accumulated throughout her time here. She shared the myriad rewards and experiences of her time working at OPHS.

“Some of the biggest rewards of my teaching job have been seeing young people grow into productive citizens showing the world that all students can contribute to their communities,” Oswaks said. “That’s when I know that the career I have chosen has made a difference.”