HTVS Teacher Aimee Devine Tries to Make a Difference

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HTVS Teacher Aimee Devine Tries to Make a Difference

Abby Khatri, Staff Writer

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New HTVS teacher Aimee Devine has seen a lot.

The wall next to her desk is covered with a vast array of colorful photos, depicting sunset beaches and beautiful landscapes of places from all over the world, from California to Greece and everywhere in between.

Her interests and life experiences have just as much variety. As someone who has switched from film major to history major, teacher to screenwriter to teacher again, who has lived in places as different as California and Brazil, taught at an underfunded inner-city school of D.C. and worked on a commercial with Alec Baldwin in New York, Devine is not new to change.

However, one theme remains constant throughout everything she has done: her desire to reach out to people, connect with them, and help them. Being a teacher is one way she is able to do that. But if you went back in time and told young Aimee Devine that she would grow up to become a teacher, she wouldn’t have believed you.

“A lot of the teachers that you have are the ones who were in the front row raising their hands all the time,” Devine said. “I was the one who had a special desk by the door because I talked too much.”

Devine’s past experience with school gives her a unique perspective and ability to connect with her students.

“I wanted to work with kids that struggled with school like I did because I want  them to have someone who understands them,” Devine said. “If nothing else, they realize that they have a teacher that didn’t like school too, then maybe they’ll be a little more willing to learn.”

Although becoming a teacher had never been on her mind, Devine’s love for the arts started early.

“She’s always been very theatrical,” Kim Devine, Aimee’s sister, said. “She would always have a hat or scarf on or some makeshift costume. She’s always been trying to be a performer.”

Devine’s love for film and photography remains a central aspect of her life. Filming opportunities is what drew her back to Utah, where she attended college, and although no longer working in the film industry full time, Devine continues to carry out her passion in her free time, whether that means capturing photos during her travels or writing screenplays by a river.

Growing up in a small suburb of Orange County, California with four siblings and lots of neighborhood friends, Devine had far from a rough childhood. Most of it was spent playing kickball long into the night or hanging out at the pool right across the street.

It was when Devine lived in Brazil that she saw the harsh reality of poverty from a closer and more personal perspective than ever before. After seeing this poverty firsthand and the cyclical nature which made it so difficult to escape, Devine quickly realized the power of education in helping people break out.

“Education was the only way,” said Devine. “So I decided to look into teaching and figured if I worked in different low income areas then I could hopefully help break that cycle.”

Following her desire to help people break this cycle, Devine took a job teaching at an inner city school of Washington D.C., attended by mostly students of low-income households, where she taught for three years.

Working in this type of school  taught Devine how to build meaningful relationships with students.

“Most of my kids were African American, and for a white person stepping into that, it’s not a welcoming environment necessarily, so building those relationships were critical to being able to gain trust,” Devine said. “I really worked hard to show that I was there for them.”

Being there for the kids of this community sometimes meant going beyond the expected roles of a teacher. Devine performed frequent home visits, made lunches, and even took some of her kids to job interviews; but all of this meant that the bonds formed between them went beyond that of an average teacher-student relationship. Although it’s been five years since she taught in D.C., Devine still keeps in touch with a lot of her old students.

Kim says that watching her sister teach at the school was one of her proudest moments.

“She just was such a light to those kids,” Kim said. “After class [I saw]  the way that the kids interacted with her and several students looked to her for guidance that didn’t have a lot of support at home…she was like that support for them.”

With a passion for film and teaching, the open position at Highland was a great fit.

Devine plans on making some changes to the HTVS program. Her vision for the show is for it to be more than announcements, focusing more on entertainment through high quality videos and funny segments.

“It’s not about announcements because those can be read or heard over the speaker,” Devine said. “I’d like to have it be changed more into some type of talk show, late night type show, where we’ve got really cool segments or fun games.”

Devine would also like HTVS to represent a greater variety of the students that attend Highland, and hopes that the show can engage more people this way.

“The goal is to try to highlight a lot more culture, to hear different people’s voices in the school, and make it something that people are excited to watch,” Devine said.

Devine’s ultimate goal is to provide opportunities for students, to help them make connections to the world around them and learn skills that will help them throughout their lives. Whether a student is in her class to get an easy A or pursue a personal passion, whether they are entering the class with zero knowledge of cameras or have a lot of experience, Devine hopes to provide an environment in which they can grow.

“Even with those kids who are just here to get an easy A, if I can ignite some type of passion in them through the work that we do in this class, then maybe they’ll start to enjoy what they’re doing and put in more effort because they’re proud of the things that they’re creating,” Devine said.

Devine loves the opportunities that a class like HTVS presents.

“It’s cool to see kids…connect to the world around them because they have to go out and capture it and tell stories about it.” Devine said. “In school you don’t get many opportunities to create and that’s all we do in here. It’s cool to give them that opportunity, and hopefully they take it.”

Whether it is through her writing, photography, or teaching, Aimee Devine is always trying to reach out and make a difference in people’s lives.

 

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