Deniann Grant, a 2012 SPC graduate, was recently chosen as a finalist for the Teach for America Sue Lehmann Teaching and Learning Fellowship. The award recognizes outstanding teachers who exemplify the organization’s core values. Chosen as one of 25 finalists from more than 200 applicants, the award decision will be announced in May.
“This award will put a positive spotlight on our community and our passion for what we do,” said Grant. “As a group, we work very hard and take what we do very seriously.”
A former Johnnie Ruth Clarke scholar, Grant earned her A.A. Degree from SPC with a focus on Communications. Afterwards, she transferred to the University of Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and History in 2014. Since then, she has worked with Teach for America, the national teacher corps committed to expanding educational opportunity for all children. She currently teaches first grade English Language Arts at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT.
Motivated by classroom connections
Grant found her motivation to join Teach for America from her own educational background. When she was 11, her parents moved from Antigua so that she and her three siblings would have the opportunity to go to college.
“I grew up in a country where we didn’t have a lot of resources but we had really excellent teachers,” she said.
Her first experience in America in middle school was not a positive one. She worked hard to make up for lost time in high school and, at 16, graduated from the Criminal Justice Academy at Pinellas Park High School.
“I had excellent teachers and smaller classroom sizes in high school,” she said. “The teachers at Pinellas Park High School reached out to me and made personal connections.”
That focus on the importance of personal connections stuck with her over the years and was again reinforced in her work with Teach for America.
“As a classroom community, we have been able to build a very strong sense of connection with our students,” she said. “Teach for America’s mission of all children getting a chance to have an excellent education is something I really believe in. It is important for me to be someone in a child’s life that they can look back on and see as impactful.”
New leadership role with Teach for America in Miami
This summer, Grant will begin a new phase of her career working for Teach for America as a Manager in Teacher Leadership Development in Miami-Dade. Her new position will move her from the classroom into a mentor/coach role where she will advise teachers and collect data on the effectiveness of their efforts.
Looking back, Grant credits the leadership training she received while a student at SPC to much of her success today.
“Because I had people believe in me at SPC, I was always involved in leadership training,” she said. “When I think about my identity and how I interact with people and other professionals, I realize that I learned the gist of that at SPC.”
In her two years at SPC, Grant served as President of the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus’s Student Government Association and Chief Executive Officer for the transitional team of MYRA (Make Your Radio Active) Radio Network.
“Deniann Grant has helped to define the way faculty, students and staff view student leaders, not only here at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, but college wide,” said Tyrone Clinton, Associate Provost of SPC’s Downtown and Midtown Centers. “As president of the Student Government Association, she set high standards for those who followed in her footsteps. She also has shown her classmates that with dedication and hard work your goals are attainable.”