The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

New Teacher, New Beginnings: An Interview with the New 9th and 10th Grade Teacher

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Every single year there are new teachers joining the Ann Richards family. They are welcomed with new names to learn and new learning styles. Normally teachers are introduced to students in the beginning of the year; however, this year, a new teacher was introduced to the ninth grade physics class and tenth grade biology class in the middle of October. This new teacher was Ms. Kimberly Desautels, coming to replace Ms. Sierra Dixon who left after the first semester.

Before coming to Ann Richards and becoming the physics and biology teacher, Desautels was teaching at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls where she taught Biology, Anatomy and Physiology. Desautels is from a small farming community in the panhandle called Seymour, Texas where she taught at Seymour High School, Western Texas College, and Vernon College.

“I’m not from Austin, I’m from North Texas from a really really small town. I miss my co-workers from up there, my family is up there but the people in Austin are also really friendly, so I like the people that I’m getting to know here too. It was kind of scary from living in a small town to living in Austin. The people here are really awesome and it actually does feel like home,” Ms. Desetal said.

Whenever someone comes to Ann Richards, they can tell there is something special about the community and the environment of the overall school. Some of these special things about the school are the unique methods of teaching, the challenging course load and the standards of the school. This was something that Desautels had to get adjusted to.

“The routines here are really different than at other schools, there’s not that many textbooks here [and] that’s really different for me. Some of them are little things like that,” Deautels said. “A lot of the things are just things that you don’t know about, and they are not written down anywhere so it’s hard to learn what’s going on.”

Every teacher wants to help their students as much as they can, if this is by adding a new way of learning into the classroom so the students understand lessons better or simply answering as many questions to the best of their abilities. Teachers are always looking to contribute something to their students learning. Because Ms. Desautels taught at a college before coming to Ann Richards, she has a unique experience that is useful to her students.  

“Since I’ve taught at a college for a few years I feel like one of my huge contributions is knowing what students need in a college science course so that kind of helps me plan objectives for our course here,” Ms. Desautels said.  

Students had to get accustomed to a new teacher after just having a different one before and an already known teaching style. Desautels adds just how challenging it was for students and herself to get accustomed to the new environment.

“At first it was hard but a bunch of the students were still really friendly with me but they had to get used to me and I had to get used to them, so at first it was really really really hard,” Ms. Desautels said. “After Christmas break, I made some changes in my classroom, and I think my students were ready to adjust to a new teacher finally then too, so then we all just adjusted to each other and so far this semester is going by so much better.”

Ms. Desetal says that her most challenging transition period was around Christmas Break. Not knowing if students were going to get adjusted was one of her main challenges.

“At Christmas there were moments where I thought I couldn’t make a difference here and just wasn’t going to be accepted,” Desetal said. “But during Christmas, several students wrote notes in Christmas cards to me saying how much they appreciated me and what I was doing, and that was just a turning point in where I realized that I was doing better than I thought I was, that the students were open to changes after all.”

Getting adjusted to a new school is difficult, and is even more difficult at Ann Richards where the community is so tight knit. Desautels gives some advice for new teachers in the future that she has learned through having had a difficult first semester.

“Take a deep breath and just hold on. That as rough as it is to get started and get adjusted to all these routines and new ways of doing things that it does truly get better.”

As most kids at 6 years old were starting first grade, Ximena Sifuentes-Chavez was migrating from Mexico to the United States. Transitioning from “Feliz cumpleaños” to “happy birthdays” was different for Ximena and lead her to step out of her comfort zone and join a film club in elementary school. Carrying film with her through middle school and into high school, she knew the pathway for her was Media Technology. Creating films and being involved in cinematography is a future goal for Ximena Sifuentes...but don’t think that is the only thing she has in mind. Junior, Ximena has an internship working at a production company and has been working since the start of summer 2018. Ximena is looking forward to giving voices to those who usually don't have one this upcoming year, as a staff writer for the Polaris Press newspaper.

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