Amy Nocton’s Discourse and Deliberation Program

Amy Nocton is an example of a teacher who positively impacts her students inside the classroom as well as outside the classroom. Her dedication to strengthening and building up the Discourse and Deliberation Program has allowed her to build lifelong connections with her students and spread awareness to modern issues with equity and injustice. However, Amy did not always see herself as a teacher. She was supposed to travel to Chile on her Fulbright, unfortunately it fell through and Amy started to advertise for a Spanish tutor and babysitter.  Amy took Spanish classes throughout her whole education; luckily someone hired Amy as a babysitter and Spanish tutor all in one. Amy quickly realized that she is able to form a connection and educate children. Amy furthered her career to teach at the University of Connecticut to teach Latin American Studies. She pursued a teaching career at E.O Smith Highschool as a Spanish teacher. 

The special part about Amy’s teaching is that she brought an uplifting energy to school everyday. She was aware that the majority of her students probably will not pursue a major in Spanish and they are taking her course as an elective. This did not stop Amy from building connections with her students. Amy’s teaching philosophy is to bring a sense of  kindness and openness each day; this allows students to enjoy class and be eager to learn the material. Amy used film to draw connections between the Spanish language and her students. Despite the lack of engagement some of her students had for Spanish, Amy carried her positive energy outside the classroom. Amy and her fellow colleagues, such as Joe Goldman put together the D.D program. It started after the 2016 Presidential election, this was a time period where there was a lot of negativity and conversations to be had about certain issues in our country. This program was an opportunity for students to speak openly about their thoughts and concerns. These sessions turned into opportunities where the students could speak to a panel of educated authorities about certain topics. For example, mental health, diverse communities, and the suffrage movement. As the program started to build up, Amy and her colleagues trained these students involved to guide these tough conversations and become experts in deliberation. Amy truly carried the value of a teacher outside the classroom and became the face of the Discourse and Deliberation Program. 

Amy Nocton won the “Libby Kingseed Teaching with Deliberation Memorial” award. This award was given to her for her work with justice discourse. This award brought a lot of attention to the program; her and her students were mentioned in podcasts, invited to workshops, and specifically a show where black women celebrated their voices through choir. These opportunities lead to help with budgeting and funding the D.D program. Amy’s passion for the program continues to grow, her goal is to help get rid of implicit biases and help students become more educated on the issues in the world. Amy believes it is important for students to get involved because it’s a program where their voice matters and the students are the ones generating all these impressive ideas to create awareness about these topics. This program allows for conversations and it’s an opportunity where staff and students can learn something new through each other. 

Amy is an inspiration to these students and also to aspiring educators. Her advice to future educators would be to take risks and don’t be afraid to experience rejection. Her positive mindset is contagious. She is optimistic about the future for the D.D Program, she hopes more and more students will get involved and come together to inspire one another. She feels help from the community and outside the school will help build the program. There is a bright future ahead of the Deliberation and Discourse Program and it is all because Amy has given it the confidence it needed.