DeNere Postell ’05: Inspiring Childhood Pursuits
By Dawn Gieringer ’10
As dean of students at Perth Amboy High School, DeNere Postell ’05 is a game changer. Postell counsels students with an infectious joy, bound and determined to build self-esteem and open doors of opportunity for them. Postell’s education, professional expertise and childhood experiences inform her mantra: Every kid is worthy of opportunities.
Postell recalled with animation the day she chose her profession. She was reading the description of “child psychologist” in her family’s encyclopedia and decided then and there that is what she wanted to be. Her parents and great teachers inspired her love of learning.
“I always had lots of ideas, and I still do,” Postell laughed. She aspires to recreate the loving and supportive environment from her own childhood that were critical to her drive to succeed.
Postell is emphatic about providing the resources students need to compete in the world. She recalls a political science class at Albright College where other students were discussing their pre-college experiences, prompting Postell to wonder why she did not have a leg up and access to the resources they were describing when she was young. Always enterprising, Postell champions the needs of young people who are not as persistent as she was as a child.
Postell’s curious and innovative nature are manifest in her approach to supporting students. The summer camp she launched in collaboration with Perth Amboy High School and resources gained from a program called “Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs” is a great example. Postell thinks back with humor as she describes how she, as a city girl, learned to fish — a skill not typically learned in an urban environment — in preparation for the camp. A science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) curriculum informed activities whereby participants learned the importance of wildlife, the water cycle and keeping their community clean. Postell explained that the camp is an example of the work she is compelled to do on behalf of children who need to build their confidence and aspirations.
In December 2020, Postell took the advice of a friend who suggested she write a book based on what she tells kids all the time: They can be what they want to be!
The content of her book “I Can Be Anything from A to Z” incorporates critical childhood memories of reading the family encyclopedia, talking with her parents and working daily with children. The book’s main characters, Zaina and her parents, are modeled after Postell and her parents.
The look and feel of the book are “not too modern, but nostalgic,” and it is deliberately modeled after another source of fond memories — scholastic book fairs. It is meant “to feel like books I had as a kid,” said Postell. She self-published the book because “I don’t want someone to tell me what I can or cannot do,” explained Postell.
Despite the nostalgic design, Postell’s protagonist, Zaina, is not hemmed in by traditional notions about careers for girls. Zaina’s career options “from A to Z” include becoming a doctor, astronaut and athlete, without limitations. Next up for Postell is a coloring book for adults.
Postell’s eyes sparkle when she explains how her work is devoted to “inspiring choices,” so the children and young adults she counsels can pursue whatever life they want to have. Education and opportunities are keys to success, Postell argues, and she works to ensure her kids get both.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Albright College, Postell earned a Master of Arts degree in clinical counseling psychology at Farleigh Dickinson University and a Master of Arts degree in urban education and educational administration and supervision at New Jersey City University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling and supervision at Kean University.