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Dr. Yven Destin

Upper School History Teacher

15 years teaching, 3 at Country Day
BA, Morehouse College; MA, University of Chicago; PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Why did you become a teacher?

Growing up, I never felt like I had a good teacher. What I mean by that is I always tried to be the best student for my teachers, but often didn’t feel my teachers wanted to take me under their wing, so to speak. When I taught in grad school, I decided I had to be the teacher I would want for myself. I can remember that moment when I noticed that students really were captivated  by some of the things I was doing or saying, and I’ve been teaching ever since.

I also think there is an assumption that school comes easy and that learning comes easy. So, it’s important for teachers to show students how they think and what they do to be a lifelong learner. When a teacher models for students how to take good notes or write a well-constructed argument, the student will rise to the challenge. One-on-one personal relationships are also so important. Knowing my students helps me be a better teacher, and they, in turn, are better students. 

What do you like about teaching history?

My parents are from Haiti, and my wife is from Uganda, so I think I provide a unique perspective in terms of how I see the world. I want to discover together with my students, as we study history, why people get along and why they don't. 

For example, when I teach world history, I use present day, digital maps even when we are learning about ancient history or events from hundreds of years ago. When my students learn about these past events on current maps, they start to realize that the world is not just these containers of countries. They begin to understand that history is really these ideas and influences that cross beyond borders. That helps my students to stop thinking in terms of countries, but rather to focus on historical experiences and movements. It’s a great day teaching when a student smiles and realizes that they had the capability of grasping a concept that is very difficult.