Dr. Amy Tucker: Dean of Students and Doctor of Psychology


Sidney Hines

Dean of students, Dr. Amy Tucker is excited for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

By Sidney Hines, Features Editor

In a school filled to the brim with different people and different personalities, student voice is often forgotten or even silenced. Although a disciplinary figure, dean of students, Dr. Amy Tucker, is an advocate of and encourages student voice.

Tucker has been working as a dean of students at Niles West for 6 years but began her career as a counselor, which led to her receiving her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2015.

“I started out in child welfare,” she said. “I did counseling with adults and some kids who had been removed from their biological parents because of abuse or neglect. I really worked with the parents who had lost custody of their kids, and I did parenting classes and counseling for them, went to court and advocated for them, all so they could regain custody of their kids.”

Her interest in the educational field was spurred by the pursuit of her doctorate in clinical psychology. Through her doctorate’s program, Tucker was able to take her passion for psychology in the classroom and fell in love with the school atmosphere.

“As I was in the classrooms, I was like ‘Wow, I really want to be in school’,” Tucker explained. “Then, I went back to school to get a degree in school psychology and worked my way up from there.”

Before coming to Niles West, Tucker had experience in being an administrator and had outgrown her role as a school psychologist, prompting her journey into becoming a dean.

Aware of the stigma surrounding her role as a disciplinarian, Tucker explained that her job is to keep the school as safe as possible, for all the students, staff, and administrators that attend every day.

“Our primary job is to keep the school safe for everyone,” she said. “Whether it’s from bullying, threats, fights, drugs, or alcohol, it’s our job to keep the halls, classrooms, and school safe so that everyone feels comfortable here. I know everyone sees us as the ‘bad guys’, but, we want to be a resource for students.”

Tucker’s kindness and devotion her students does not go unnoticed.

“My experience with Dr. Tucker these last few years has been great,” senior Rita Ismayl said. “She is super nice and cares for her students’ well-being. She does a great job handling situations given to her while still being fair to everyone.”

Colleagues and staff around the school recognize Tucker’s work ethic and appreciate the hard work she puts in each day.

“She’s great,” BAC assistant Milutin Cejovic said. “She’s very intelligent and capable. She’s always on top of things and it’s very tough to get anything past her. She’s fun to work with, has a great sense of humor, and is very supportive of whatever we need in here.”

Tucker and her colleagues encourage students to use their voice and come to them with any issue that makes them feel worried or uneasy.

“If they [students] see something that makes it an uncomfortable or unsafe place for them, we want them to come talk to us and tell us, so we can help whatever the situation is,” Tucker expressed. “A lot of times, kids do. And we’ll do what we can to fix the problem. Everybody should feel comfortable here.”

Tucker believes her degree in clinical psychology helps with her job as a dean by allowing her to communicate with students in a positive and productive manner.

“When I switched from school psychology to being a dean, it was a hard switch in terms of, ‘Now I’m a disciplinarian’, but at the same time, I think it really helped me with my conversations with students. It helps me be a good listener and to ask more probing questions, to get to the root of why something’s happening.” she said.

Like many of her students, Tucker spent many years in school to get her degree. When receiving a doctorate in psychology, it is required that the student write a dissertation. Tucker chose to write hers on racial microaggressions and conducted an experiment on the dangers of it.

“I looked at a school that was predominately white, and there was an African American girls counseling group,” Tucker explained. “I worked with those girls on their experiences in the predominantly white neighborhood, school, and my whole dissertation was about the racial microaggressions that they had experienced.”

After her history of studying racial microaggressions and inequity, Tucker expressed her thoughts on racial equity within the halls of Niles West.

“I think we have an incredibly diverse school. Some kids find it safe and equitable, and other kids don’t. I think you’d find that anywhere, and I think our hearts are in the right place, knowing that work needs to be done, but I also know that we’re not there yet.” Tucker expressed.

Despite the disciplinary aspect of being a dean, Tucker admits that her favorite part of being a dean is her interactions with different students each day.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of kids and their families. I like problem-solving, so when I’m able to problem solve with students I really enjoy that. Another thing is, my team- not just the other three deans but the administrative assistants, Mr. C in the BAC, and Ms. Becker in attendance- we are such a good group together that I actually enjoy coming in and seeing everybody. I’m happy to be here.” she said.

One thing Tucker would like students to know is that even with the stigma surrounding the deans, she aims to be the best listener she can for students and encourages them to come to her.

“I think it’s really easy to lump deans in with the ‘bad guys’ at school,” Tucker admitted. “I really do want to be the best listener I can be for students, and I really do want to be an advocate for students, and I really do want to keep the school safe for everybody. Despite my appearance as a dean, I really do want them to know that those are my goals.”