Dermont joins Saratoga community after 5-year teaching career

August 29, 2020 — by Carolyn Wang and Oliver Ye

After teaching for three years at a bilingual school in Mexico and part-time last year at Gunn High, Allison Dermont is teaching three periods of Spanish 2 and one period of Spanish 3.

Dermont said that she fell in love with Spanish while pursuing her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Spanish at American University, prompting her to purchase a one-way ticket to Mexico. 

“I was really lucky to find a job teaching at a bilingual school in Mexico for three years,” Dermont said. “After my three years in Mexico, I realized I loved teaching so much that I went back to the United States to pursue a Masters in Education.” Dermot received her degree from Stanford. 

Despite spending at least the beginning of her first year here teaching online, Dermont said she wants to focus on fostering conversation and incorporating mindfulness into her classroom.

With the Zoom format hindering the social interaction normally present in a classroom setting, Dermont wants to reinforce the importance of speaking in a language class through the use of online tools like breakout rooms and Flipgrid.

“The thing that is the craziest to me is that all the students are muted, so it’s just silence on my end,” she said. “You don’t even hear the sound of shuffling papers, or coughs or pencils.” 

In addition to online tools, Dermont plans to utilize “equity cards,” which contain students’ names on them, allowing her to randomly choose students to participate. In the past, this has ensured that every student gets a chance to speak during class. 

As a yoga instructor, Dermont also aims to incorporate themes of mindfulness in her classroom. She said that her experience as a yoga teacher has led her to emphasize the mental health and well-being of her students.

Dermont had multiple job offers from other schools, but was convinced to teach at SHS by a friend who had participated in the same masters program at Stanford: Melissa Hesselgrave, who currently teaches AP MAP Economics/US Government and English 10. 

“She told me that the world language department was probably the most loved department in the school,” Dermont said. “I can see where she’s coming from because I think my coworkers are really awesome and welcoming.”

Over the summer, Spanish 1 and 2 teacher Gina Rodriguez invited Dermont over to her house for guacamole and drinks while the two looked over books and discussed the online curriculum together.

Reflecting on the interview process for around eight applicants for the position, foreign language department chair Sarah Voorhees recalls that Dermont emerged as the clear favorite.

“Between both [Saratoga and Los Gatos High], we wanted her, ” Voorhees said. “She just stood out above everybody else.”

Although she has only led a couple weeks of classes so far, Dermont already has hope for an exciting school year.

“I can tell that Saratoga students are very diligent with their work, [and] their Spanish is impressive,” Dermont said. “All the students seem very sweet, and I’m really excited to meet them in person.”

 

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