Ms. Dzegar: The Dream Dean
By Lucy Bernstein
“Best person ever” is a phrase the members of the Class of 2021 often use to describe Ms. Larissa Dzegar. According to the freshman grade, which holds the majority of Ms. Dzegar’s current students, she is a strong mentor, a clever teacher, and a thoughtful friend.
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, Ms. Dzegar will assume the position of the Dean of the Class of 2021, taking the place of Ms. Loryn Evanoff.
Through her role as a ninth grade English teacher, journalism teacher, advisor for the class of 2020, and supervisor of five noteworthy clubs, Ms. Dzegar’s dedication and enthusiasm for her job and her students have touched an impressive number of students and faculty after just one year at Packer.
Before she came to Packer, Ms. Dzegar taught at the Manhattan High School for Girls, an all-girls school on the Upper East Side. There, she taught English, public speaking, journalism, creative writing, and was an advisor for students in the process of writing college essays.
“I’ve always believed in teaching through stories, and that we are the most powerful tool. I think we as people are much more useful than a textbook, or a piece of literature, or any lesson plan,” said Ms. Dzegar. “As teachers, sharing our stories and experiences with each other is the most important thing that we have to offer, and it’s always been for me that once I share something about myself, my students will share something about themselves, too.”
By sharing her own personal stories and experiences over the past year, Ms. Dzegar has developed strong, open relationships with her students, particularly those of the Class of ‘21, and these relationships are what drove her to apply to be their dean.
“It was the students that made me want to do it. I love them – we have such good, close relationships. I had the opportunity to teach half of them this year, and it was so rewarding.” said Ms. Dzegar, smiling. “I can’t remember one bad day at work. Teaching them is so fulfilling, and it just adds so much meaning to my life.”
The timing of the opportunity for the dean position also had a significant impact on Ms. Dzegar’s personal desire to grow closer with her students and to become a more meaningful figure in their lives.
“When the opening for the position came by, my father had just passed away a couple of weeks before, and I had the opportunity to see how my students would respond to that,” Ms. Dzegar explained. “I was overwhelmed by their kindness, their love, their understanding and their compassion… so, it made me want to do more for them, be there for them, and be in their lives in a more permanent, significant way, because they had been there for me.”
Ms. Dzegar’s current sophomore advisees are disappointed that she’ll be leaving their advisory next year, but they’re excited to see what she’ll do as she steps into a bigger role in the Packer community.
“She really cares about her students and her advisees. She goes out of her way to help us, and she’s really adamant about making sure that we progress as students and as people in general.” said Jack Reisler (‘20), one of Ms. Dzegar’s advisees. “I think her ability to connect with students on a personal level and her drive to make her kids become better students will be really helpful in her role as a dean.”
Throughout the next three years, as she grows even closer to the Class of 2021, Ms. Dzegar hopes to not only help her students academically, but help them make the most of their high school experience.
“I want my students to love high school,” she said. “I want them to think of these years as a great time in their lives. I’m also really passionate about letting them know that it’s okay to have moments of weakness… and that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. It’s part of my mission to make sure they know that they don’t have to coast through life.”