Deanna Proctor, McDonogh 35 Class of 1987

Deanna Proctor, McDonogh 35 Class of 1987
Posted on 10/07/2020

With a quarter of a century in the classroom, Deanna Proctor, a fourth-grade math teacher at Pierre A. Capdau, said a career in education was her calling. 

“My parents were educators and so were my aunt and uncle,” she said. “Every summer I would go help decorate Mom’s classroom.”

Proctor's graduation photoAfter graduating from McDonogh 35 in 1987, Proctor pursued higher education in communications and technology but “those didn’t work, so I went on to do the education thing,” she said with a laugh. “There was no escaping my calling.”  

She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Southern University of New Orleans. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in social work at Southern, along with her daughter, Jasmine Proctor. The two will graduate together in May. 

Proctor, her parents and her daughter“I found a need. There’s a missing piece to teaching the whole child,” she said, which is why she is working on a degree in social work. “I wanted to do something to learn how to reach students on a whole other level. Some have something inside that needs to come out. Kids are experiencing more and have to deal with more than I did, and I just want to help them.” 

“Some kids have been home since March. I worry about them,” she added. “Sometimes you just want to take them all home, but you can’t.”

When Proctor began her career as a teacher, she taught first and then second grades. Shortly after, she was placed in a fourth-grade math classroom where she’s remained ever since. 

Ms. Proctor in her classroom“Honestly, I was afraid of math when I was a kid. I had a tutor in high school because I didn’t understand it,” she said. “But now I love it. Teaching it helped me get over my fear of math. That fear helped me become a better teacher because I can now see how easy and fun it is and I can share that with my students.”

Proctor said one of the best things about teaching is seeing the children grow. Her former second graders are now in high school, and she still keeps in touch with some parents.

“I cried when I saw their cap and gown photos,” she said. “You develop bonds with these kids and families. You remember their faces, and it brings back memories that you were part of their life.”

Proctor joined InspireNOLA in 2015, working at Andrew Wilson before transferring to Capdau this school year. 

“One thing that struck me about InspireNOLA is that when children left elementary school, they can matriculate to a high school within in the same network,” she said, adding that give students stability in their learning environment. 

InspireNOLA is also now operating her alma mater, McDonogh 35. 

Ms. Proctor and her husband in high school“I know McDonogh 35 is on the right path with an awesome leader. I love him,” she said of Principal Lee Green. 

Proctor said McDonogh 35 was her first love. It was also where she met her first love, who would eventually become her husband, Darren Duncan. 

“It felt like family,” she said. “I have a whole lineage of cousins on both sides and my brother who graduated from there. When you say you graduated from 35 in this city, it’s like an honor.”

Proctor said that though education has changed tremendously, “with all the headaches and hiccups, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. In no other occupation do you have such a clean slate at the beginning of the year and then see how much knowledge the students leave with.”

A charm bracelet with her parentsProctor says she owes everything, especially her love of education to her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Matthew Proctor, Jr., both of whom she recently lost.

“My mom would send me a letter at the beginning of every school year,” Proctor said. “Every day, she would wait for me to call her to see how my day went. Dad was always in the background listening in. They were my support system.”

Proctor keeps the letter from her mother on her desk in her classroom.

“I owe them everything. Everything I learned to do with the children, I learned from them. They were my educators. Having those two as role models got me this far.”

Proctor said when she feels down, she thinks about all her students’ faces and all the things they’ve learned throughout the year.

“It gets me through,” she said. “I love education. I love my kids.”