Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. St. Amant

Mrs. St. Amant with her husband and two kids.

Mrs. St. Amant with her husband and two kids.

Spotlight. Defined as an intense beam of light directed upon a being. In this case, a spotlight is a way for you students of YLHS to get to know your peers and teachers. Today, we have Mrs. Desiree St. Amant. Read it and weep, kids. Here’s your chance to get to know the most down-to-earth and the most caring/ understanding person:

Q: How has your hometown shaped you into the person you are today?
A: Half of my childhood was spent growing up and going to school East of Los Angeles, where neighborhoods were peppered with small, aged homes, some gang activity, families working hard to just survive, and lots of English learners in schools. Although my needs were met, there was an undercurrent of struggle and caution. The other half of my childhood was in Chino Hills, which was a culture shock, to be honest. Having experienced these two vastly different hometowns allowed me to understand that affluence is not the norm, to appreciate what I have, and to never take even the simplest luxuries for granted.

Q: What are your hobbies and what are you most passionate about?
A: I love dancing, gardening/doing yard work, going to concerts, and reading (duh). I danced hula for 12 years-from competitions to weddings to restaurants-and I am currently learning flamenco, the dance of Spain. It’s hard, but I enjoy the challenge. Furthermore, I enjoy working on my yard, growing veggies and succulents. I am currently doing water-wise landscaping on my front yard; it’s a ton of hard work but 100% worth it once I see the results. I also love watch live music performances. My last show was Florence and the Machine. Having kids/busy jobs makes it tough to go to a show on a random Tuesday night, but we still manage to go to a few a year–my youngest son, Liam, “attended” FIVE shows while he was in my belly.

Q: How did you know you wanted to do what you’re doing now, gracing people with your Literary knowledge and key life advices?
A: I was inspired by my senior high school English teacher, Mrs. Sherman, who opened my eyes to the powerful lessons contained in fictional literature. She helped me find joy in discussions and appreciate the sometimes chaotic path to deep understanding. Fun fact: she now teaches AP Literature, which wasn’t offered when I was there 15 years ago. I wanted to be a “Mrs. Sherman” to my students and facilitate their growth as writers and thinkers.

Q: Where or what do you grab your inspiration from?
A: Ironically, I definitely have my best “a-ha” moments during a long outdoor run, which I strive to do a few times a week. My mind can wander-perhaps to distract from the burning sensation in my muscles- and somehow unlock solutions or ideas for all parts of my life, especially teaching.

Q: How do you keep doing what you’re doing while also facing difficult obstacles?
A: *Everyone* faces obstacles. Just because we clear one hurdle doesn’t mean we can coast through the rest of our lives; there is always something we have to overcome, no matter how small. It’s not like a *love* stress, but I realized that it’s absolutely inevitable, so I must control how I deal with it–how I cope and react to it. I have decided to embrace the struggle as a way to grow, and this has enabled me to accept what happens, even if things don’t go my way.

Q: Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself since being involved with teaching?
A: I’ve learned that I admire innovators and those who are open-minded to change. I like to try new, effective strategies and collaborate with like-minded educators, challenging all traditional teaching practices. Thankfully, my passion for improving as a teacher has not waned after being in this profession for over a decade. I realize that I have a lot of room to grow, and I am excited to do so.

Q: If you weren’t a teacher right now, what would you be doing?
A: I really am fascinated by behavioral economics and anthropology, so maybe I’d be a researcher? The idea of researching, collecting data, drawing conclusions, writing articles, and influencing real policies excites me.

Q: Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
A: I have NO idea. If I’m still teaching, cool. If not, there’s probably a compelling reason, haha. But seriously, all I care about “being” in 10 years is healthy, mentally and physically active, adventurous, and happy.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice that has ever been given to you?
A: Find something to be happy about, to laugh about, or to smile about each day and it will not have been a waste. Even on the most difficult days, this has kept me afloat.

Q: Any advice for any prospective teachers or anyone in general, ready to take life head on?
A: You, future English teacher with 180+ students, will realize that your time is a precious, rare jewel–defend and protect it (and maybe teach a different subject if you want more of it). Steer clear of negative people, and strive to create healthy boundaries between your work and personal life. Lastly, teachers and students are much more than a test score or pass rate, and when you are breathing your last breath, you will not wish to have graded more papers; you will wish to have had more quality time with those you love.

And on that note, I give you Mrs. Desiree St. Amant, an inspirational yet relatable human being. Even when asking one of AP Literature students what was one word to describe her, Robert Sheffield (12) promptly answered, “Inspiring.” Moreover, Sheffield includes, “Mrs. St. Amant has really taught me how to cherish the happiness in life.” It’s safe to say that we can all learn a thing or two from her.