Deisy Avellaneda, ’18: Early Childhood and Elementary Education
Deisy Avellaneda,’18, was 24 years old when she transferred from a Houston college to Maryville’s early childhood and elementary education program. Avellaneda arrived in St. Louis with her fiancée, her 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, and big dreams.
“There’s a big learning gap for minority students in public education, and I want to help decrease that,” she says. “I think they will be excited to see someone like them in their classroom.”
Through student teaching, she has already seen how her presence as a Hispanic teacher can inspire diverse students.
“Seeing someone diverse in the classroom or in a place of authority validates their efforts and shows them they can become and be what they want,” she says.
There’s a big learning gap for minority students in public education, and I want to help decrease that. I think they will be excited to see someone like them in their classroom.
Having been raised in the Texas foster care system and lived in her car for two years as a teenager, Avellaneda knows firsthand the difference a teacher can make in young lives. It was a high school language arts teacher that helped Avellaneda realize her potential, a lesson she hopes to impart to her own students.
“She taught me that I can’t let my background be an obstacle—that I needed to be resilient,” Avellaneda says.
In the past few months, Avellaneda completed her student teaching and certification tasks at the same time she and her now-husband, Steve Kirn, bought a house. The couple’s second child, Maya, was born the week before graduation. Although the final approach to commencement was stressful, Avellaneda has a habit of turning difficult situations into positive ones.
“Juggling all that pushes me forward instead of pushing me back,” she says. “These are not obstacles, they’re motivation; they’re all blessings. I learned from my student teaching experience that when we focus on what we’re doing and why—and who we’re doing it for—it becomes easier.”