Episode 18: An Interview with Lynette Stant (2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year)

“How am I ensuring that there is beauty in my classroom, and peace in my classroom, and balance in my classroom.” – Lynette Stant 

Lynette Stant, 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year and the first indigenous woman to earn that extraordinary honor, is our extraordinary and unconventional guest of part 1 of our 3-part Season 1 Finale. 

Lynette, or Mrs. Stant as her 38 students lovingly call her, is Navajo (Diné) and believes one of her primary roles as an educator is to be a mirror for her students as they see themselves and their culture reflected in her. She teaches at Salt River Elementary in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Like most dedicated educators, she often works many hours past the last bell and focuses her countless, selfless hours of service to her students and community on being a voice for equitable education for her students.  Beyond that, she hopes to be a voice for all Arizona students living in rural areas and on Native American reservations. 

In one previous interview with Lynette, she notes that it is remarkable we are in this situation in the first place because the 19th century education system for indigenous peoples was all about assimilation. That is certainly not the case today thanks in part to educators like Lynette who work day in and day out to change the narrative of how Native peoples are discussed/treated in education.

Episode Highlight Quotes: 

“Our indigenous students do so much just to have to just be present in the classroom. Whether that’s getting in a horse-drawn wagon and then running part of the way and then getting in another wagon to be at school…it hasn’t changed, you know, since then.” 

“In the midst of this pandemic, the inequities have definitely been spotlighted on marginalized communities.” 

“I’ve actually met students who are literally trying to sign in to class from a cell phone on top of a mesa because that’s where they can catch cell service….but my students face the same inequities, you know that big digital divide.” 

“It is not a secret that COVID has ravished indigenous nations across our country because the infrastructure wasn’t even established for good health care at that time .” 

“Some of our kids come to school just needing us to nurture them. They need that socio-emotional connection to us.” 

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Podcast Credits:

An Unconventional Teacher Founder & Host: Jon Hinthorne

Podcast Editor and Producer: Jon Hinthorne 

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Media Designers:  Nina Telthorst & Gracie Bonwich

Lynette Stant Teacher of the Year 2020 Arizona
Lynette Stant with some of her Students at the Salt River Elementary School

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