By Hannah Lewis
O’odham Action News
Third-grade teacher Lynette Stant of Salt River Elementary School, Arizona’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the “Celebrating Education – A Powerful Profession” seminar held at the Indigenous Cultural Center at Scottsdale Community College on Monday, February 24. The seminar was conducted by the SCC education faculty for students who are in the process of pursuing a degree to become future educators.
Stant began by introducing herself in her native Navajo language and also in O’odham to honor the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. She also gave acknowledgment to SRMPIC, on whose land the SCC campus is located.
Stant shared her journey in education, from when she was a young girl to now being the Arizona Teacher of the Year. She said that she had a passion for teaching ever since she was little. She explained how she taught her grandmother, who spoke only Navajo, how to write her name in English.
In addition to recalling her educational journey, Stant provided the future educators in the audience with suggestions about how to become an effective, memorable teacher. She described the importance of building a relationship with the students; however, the process of building a relationship can be very different depending on the student.
Another suggestion she gave future educators is to make learning a human experience for students.
“Be passionate and present as your authentic self to your students and their families. Your students need to see that you’re human as well,” says Stant. “Think, ‘How can I make it different? What can I do better? How can I have my students master the ‘standard?’”
Stant concluded that, in her 15 years of teaching, she believes her role as an Indigenous teacher has been most important to inspire others to pursue a career in education.