You can hear the clicking of heels throughout Meadowdale Middle School hallways, and they aren’t your average heels. They are bright yellow, spiked high heels worn by intensive learning teacher Tamara Musser. Once you catch a glimpse of her, you may think she took a wrong turn on her way to a Paris fashion show, but this high-end fashion collector is right where she belongs, teaching. Whether she is wearing Dior, Alexander McQueen, or Dolce & Gabanna to the classroom, Musser is unapologetically herself.
“I am fearless,” Musser said. “If I feel like wearing a gown to work, I’ll wear a gown to work. I dress how I feel.”
Musser began collecting high-end fashion pieces when she was thirty years old, and ultimately acquired a dream closet. Everything in her wardrobe is both well loved and well made. It’s not about the name brand for her, but it’s about quality, distinctiveness, creativity, and inspiration—qualities which catch her eye and speak to her personality. The many components to Musser’s wardrobe reflect the many facets of her personality. When she is feeling crazy and fun, she sports her one-of-a-kind Valentino dress and matching boots, and when she is feeling serious, she puts on Alexander McQueen.
“A person can’t tell who I am by what I wear, because there are so many different parts of me,” Musser said.
If you’re looking only at her clothing, the part of Musser you might miss is her heart for children and her passion for teaching. It’s not often you see an intensive learning teacher rocking a Pucci gown, but it’s within the realm of possibility for Musser’s students. A Portland native, Musser has spent that last 30 years teaching in the Edmonds School District after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology from Lewis and Clark University and a master’s in education from Puget Sound University. She specialized in behavioral science and has worked with students with developmental delays, autism, or behavioral issues.
Even at the expense of a broken heel or two, Musser loves what she does. Her verve and confidence spark creativity in the classroom as well as throughout Meadowdale Middle School. Her boldness encourages her students to be themselves. Students are interested, Musser said. She even has had students ask her to lead a fashion club.
“People know me because of my two reputations. Either the difference I am able to make in students’ lives or because of the way I dress,” Musser said.
She is recognizable, but the attention isn’t always positive. Although her students have never taken issue with the way she dresses, Musser has contended with complaints from parents in the past; although, she says it’s never been the parents’ of her students, but others who happen to see what she is wearing. Musser confesses she has been trying to behave a little better, but she has no plans of denying herself who she is and what she wants to wear.