Olivia Tarnowski (née Watson), originally from Boone, North Carolina, graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in business and marketing education, with a minor in marketing.
Growing up in Boone, Tarnowski always wanted to attend Appalachian State University because “there was no better place to make my dreams of becoming a teacher a reality.”
“My dad is also an alumnus of Appalachian so I wanted to continue the family tradition,” she added.
“I attended Appalachian’s Spring Open House my senior year and instantly felt welcomed and valued when I visited the Reich College of Education. As I entered one particular room that day, I saw a presentation board that said ‘Business and Marketing Education’ and my heart swelled with joy. It seemed like there were fireworks going off behind the presentation board because I was so happy to have finally found exactly what I was meant to do.”
In high school, Tarnowski took marketing classes and was highly involved in DECA, a career and technical student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. It was then her dream of teaching was realized.
Tarnowski currently teaches marketing at her former high school - Watauga High School. Specific classes include sports and entertainment marketing and hospitality and tourism. “I have formed partnerships with many local businesses and frequently have guest speakers visit my classroom to provide students with ‘real world’ information about what various marketing careers entail,” shared Tarnowski.
She also advises the DECA club, preparing students for the district, state, and international competitions, as well as focusing on community service and personal student development.
Tarnowski was recognized through North Carolina DECA with a Career Choice Award, a Program of Excellence Award, and the Kenneth W. Smith Award for Professional Dedication.
“Receiving awards from NC DECA exemplifies sincere encouragement, investment, and genuine support of my potential as a DECA advisor and marketing education teacher,” said Tarnowski. “As a four year member of NC DECA when I was in high school, becoming an advisor for a DECA chapter in North Carolina is incredibly rewarding to me.”
Impacting Education in Her Community
Tarnowski is making an impact on education in her community. “I became a teacher to positively impact the lives of my students and to give back to the community that helped shape who I am today.”
Tarnowski believes effective teaching begins with building relationships with students and being passionate about the subject you teach.
“I have found that students do not necessarily care how much you know until they know how much you care about them,” she noted. “Once a relationship has been built with a student, it allows me to tailor my instruction to each students’ interests and experiences.”
“My passion for Marketing Education and DECA motivates me to cultivate a desire in my students to find and pursue what they are passionate about,” she continued. “Serving as the Watauga High School DECA Advisor has been a remarkably rewarding opportunity to motivate and encourage my students.”
In addition to supporting her students, one of Tarnowski’s favorite parts of being an educator is uplifting her fellow colleagues by cheering on their successes and advocating for their Career and Technical Education Department.