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Tara Bennett
Young Alumni Award

In North Attleboro High School's yearbook for the Class of 1994, Tara Bennett shared a personal inspirational quote: Jane Rule said, "My private measure of success is daily. To live in a harmonious balance of commitments and pleasure is what I strive for." Tara prescient classmates predicted that she would achieve this balance when they voted her "Most Likely to Succeed." Today, she inspires so many of us with her exemplary ability to empower others to succeed through her selfless accomplishments as a teacher of teachers and students, as a coach, and as a resident of North Attleboro. Tara Bennett is the consummate multi-tasker.

As Program Manager for Harvard University's Life Science-Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Outreach Program, Tara designs and manages lecture and laboratory sessions to facilitate the sharing of Harvard's most current research with secondary students and teachers from New England. It is not surprising that Tara has found a way to reach out to as many people as possible to enhance their education in the sciences. In the words of her colleague, Susan Johnson, Program Coordinator for the Outreach Program, "I don't know of anyone who can match Tara's passion and deep knowledge of biology, nature, educational practice, organic agriculture, the environment, animal welfare… and at the same time, so effectively infuse all of those passions into every educational initiative she touches. She is not just a colleague who is willing to go the extra mile: she is an inspiration, a bottomless resource and a friend."

Prior to her work at Harvard, Tara attended Dartmouth College and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology with High Honors distinction as well as her teacher certification for secondary education in biology in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After graduation from Dartmouth, Tara was one of only ten students chosen for Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Masters Program in Animals and Public Policy. She earned her Master of Science degree in 2003 by creating a Massachusetts standards-based curriculum for a secondary school semester course on animal welfare and environmental topics.

During her stint at Tufts and immediately after graduation, Tara also taught high school science at Norwell, Framingham, Norton and North Attleboro. At the helm, Tara received grant awards to implement programs to introduce students to DNA biotechnology and ecological issues. She also organized school science fairs and mentored students who were conducting original research. She taught AP Biology, Environmental Science, Introductory Biology and Anatomy and Physiology.

During her time as a high school teacher, Tara continued to challenge herself by pursuing other endeavors. From 2000 to 2002, she became a Curriculum Coordinator at Harvard University, responsible for designing and implementing new curriculum for undergraduate Biology courses as well as maintaining course rooms and instructing students and teaching fellows in equipment use and laboratory protocols. Since 2001, Tara has been a Laboratory Instructor who teaches Introductory Biology and Molecular Biology laboratory sections to secondary school, undergraduate, and graduate students in the Harvard Extension School Health Careers Program and the Harvard Summer School.

Besides influencing students as a teacher who has a profound educational background, Tara began volunteering as an assistant coach for North Attleboro's Cross Country and Track and Field teams. In 2009, Tara became the head coach of the Girls Cross Country Team. Long-time NAHS Girls Cross Country coach Dwight Estey said, "With her science background, passion for the sport and ability to relate to students, Tara is sure to have a long and successful coaching career to go along with her teaching career."

In addition to coaching, Tara has contributed in many other ways to the community. She has assisted colonies of feral cats by transporting them and assisting in spay and neuter clinics in our area. She is also one of the four founders and current treasurer of the Friends of North Attleboro Animal Shelter (FNAAS), an organization created to provide financial support to the animal shelter to improve the well-being of hundreds of unwanted and stray companion animals. Tara also started the "Bow Wow Meow" fundraiser for the group. Animal Control Officer, Karen Fontneau, is grateful for Tara's willingness to provide foster and hospice care to animals that need a lot of care and commitment.

Ted Duluk, Tara's former high school science teacher, colleague, and mentor, summed up Tara's accomplishments precisely when he said, "Throughout her high school, college and professional career, … [Tara has grown] on many levels; each guided by her extreme diligence and integrity… Tara takes multitasking to a new level." Along the way, Tara has touched so many lives through her innate dedication to improving the well-being of others. She clearly has achieved both the spirit and the letter of Jane Rule's measure of success.

Tara resides in North Attleboro with her husband, Erik, and their adopted dog, Taylor. She enjoys traveling, running, cooking, reading, health and nutrition, animal welfare and walking her dog. As a member of the Sacred Heart Parish Prayer Shawl group, she also knits and crochets blankets and shawls for church and community members dealing with sickness.