SC Presents: Women's History Month Q&A

In recognition of the vital contributions made by strong and smart women in all of our lives, Sierra Canyon is proud to present Trailblazing Women of SC, where we celebrate some of our most recognizable and influential women on campus.

We hope you enjoyed our feature on social media this week, highlighting some of our phenomenal faculty and staff. However, if one post wasn't enough for you, you will find the complete answers to our Women's Month Q&A below.
How long have you worked at Sierra Canyon? At what position?
Amy Roth: I have worked at Sierra Canyon for 34 years! That is 58% of my life.
Deborah Whitlock-Trotter: Approximately 16 years.
Shelley Deutsch: This is my 28th year on the faculty.

Holly Calig: I began working at Sierra Canyon in 1998. I worked with Middle School students teaching electives (exploratories) such as CPR, first aid, and babysitting courses. 

Tina Lee: Science Teacher for 16 years and second year as Science Department Chair
How has your role changed over the years?
AR: I taught 3rd Grade for nine years and then 2nd Grade for seven years, and have been the Math Specialist ever since. 
DWT: I've been a department chair, teacher, and club sponsor.

SD: I started as an assistant in Kindergarten, a year later created the Service Learning Program and became a Middle School team leader, and then lead teacher for Language Arts/Social Studies for 14 years while coordinating the service program. I have been the Service Learning Coordinator for Pre-K through 12th Grade for the past 13 years.

HC: In 2001, I was asked to create a health curriculum for Middle School and enjoyed teaching subjects such as the history of disease, consumer scams, nutrition, and reading food labels. In 2005, the position opened for School Nurse. Though I had received my Nursing degree in 1979, I had just completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Public Health certificate and was ready for this challenge. My three kids were in high school and college, and the timing was right.
TL: I was initially hired to be a teacher’s assistant fresh out of college but was given a single class of 6th Grade science to teach as well. After the first year, I evolved as an educator as I took on curriculum writing for the Lower School science program while continuing my role as a teacher and TA. By my fourth year at SC, I transitioned into a full time Upper School science teacher and I moved across the street from the Lower Campus to the Upper Campus. By my 15th year, I added to my role as science department chair. 
How have you seen Sierra Canyon change over the years?
AR: Sierra Canyon has gone through many changes over the years. It is a beautiful place to work that still holds all its rustic and scenic charm. The name Sierra Canyon fits perfectly. We are surrounded by beautiful rocks and more trees than most parks! We may have upgraded from wood equipment to state-of-the-art play equipment for the kids, but it stills feels warm and inviting. We have a garden, which is a centerpiece for many of us. On my way to class each day, I actually birdwatch as I go to class. I've seen an owl that I've never seen anywhere else in the trees right outside my classroom! I've seen hawks sitting on trees as well, just looking down at me. I've stopped a math lesson to go out and birdwatch many times! 
DWT: SC has evolved very quickly in the areas of athletics and academics. I think we have become a well-known institution throughout the country in areas such as the arts, mathematics, sciences, and athletics, just to name a few. We have become a much more spirited student body.

SD: I came to Sierra Canyon as a parent 31 years ago. There were only about 250 students on one campus, and only in grades Pre-K through 6th Grade. My daughter was in the first class to have three homerooms—all of the rest only had two. I have watched with awe as the school expanded to include a Middle School program (originally in the rooms that are now 4th Grade), then built a Middle School building (now the home of 5th and 6th Grades), and then added Upper School students and the incredible Upper Campus facility. While the physical additions and growth of the student and faculty populations have changed, the goal of offering the most outstanding, extraordinary education for our students has not changed. It is still the same.

HC: I have enjoyed the progression of a diverse student body, the addition of the Upper School, observing phenomenal athletes and sports teams, and the expansion of theater arts. We have grown from a small elementary school to a nationally recognized Pre-K through 12th Grade School. 
TL: Sierra Canyon has changed in many ways, but It still upholds what was always there from the beginning, the spirit of excellence. We have grown in size, diversified our population, strengthened our academic and athletics programs, and have also increased our presence in our local community over the years. We were able to do so because of our ambitious drive to always be excellent in all areas. 
Please share a favorite SC memory or tradition.
AR: I remember when the staff parking lot used to be the playground, and I would roll out of my room on my desk chair to play with the kids. It was the highlight of their day and mine!
We used to play basketball or handball for the last 20 minutes of every day as a group. I'm talking about the room where Ms. Studley is now. I miss being able to watch the kids play from my classroom desk. I always knew who needed a friend and helped them find one. 
DWT: As you can imagine, I have a lot of memories from the last 16 years, but I greatly enjoyed the time when my son attended SC, and I had the pleasure of teaching him. I am very proud of the traditions I have created surrounding my involvement with the Mathematics Club and the Black Student Union. The Math Club has a tradition where we celebrate pi during an entire week. We have many traditions that have been created through BSU, one of my favorites being the BSU soul food luncheon where students, faculty, and staff enjoy food from the Black American culture.

SD: I have countless treasured memories, but certainly, the ones that immediately come to mind involve volunteering with our students. Whether it is our annual visits to LAUSD partner schools, or volunteering out in the community with numerous charities, I have always been extremely impressed and truly touched with how compassionately our students interact with others and make a difference by giving of themselves.

HC: There are so many . . . but my absolute favorite is Summer Camp. Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night, my grandkids sleep over, and we journey to camp together, with lunch tickets in hand, Happy Camper T-shirts, and huge smiles on their faces. Another is the 6th Grade trip to the Pacific Northwest. Hiking, canoeing, campfires, and bonding with students and staff is the perfect trip.
TL: Out of the many memories that I have here at Sierra Canyon, I find that the week-long Middle School field trips are one of my favorite traditions. Below are the few places I have been with my students:
6th grade – Olympic Park Institute, WA
7th Grade – Crow Canyon, CO/Yosemite, CA/ San Diego, CA/ Catalina, CA
8th Grade – Boston, MA / Washington D.C
I see tremendous growth by the end of the trip in most students along with new friendships. The vibe and energy that you feel from them while on a long flight or bus ride coming back home is always uplifting and amazing. Even faculty chaperones have a closer sense of community after coming back from a trip. I miss hearing all the hilarious stories that Mick Horwitz would share with us on those long bus rides as he reminisced about the early Sierra Canyon Camp days. COVID-19 made me cherish these memories more as we weren’t able to go with our current 7th and 8th Grade students. I truly enjoy being able to travel with my students and learn who they are outside of the classroom.
What do you believe your mark has been on Sierra Canyon?
AR: I think I have been known as the math guru and for the teacher that made math come alive. When I run into a student that I had even 25 years ago, they remember me fondly, and still remember my tricks and riddles that I used to teach math to them. One example is 8×8 is 64; hang your undies on the door! Sierra Canyon has been my home for so long and helped me raise my boys who went to school here. It truly is an amazing place. 
DWT: I believe my biggest mark has been as a strong, Black American teacher and role model in a field that is not always known for Black American teachers. Being the only Black American teacher at the Upper School for so many years was a challenge, but I hope I have helped to make Sierra Canyon a better place for students of all races and nationalities. I hope I have helped to make Sierra Canyon a better place for students of all races and nationalities.

SD: My endless admiration for our amazing and thoughtful students who volunteer thousands of hours every year and continue to astonish me with their creativity and dedication to service has been possible because of the support of our administration, faculty, and parents. I was given the opportunity to create a brand-new program, and through the years, its evolution and growth has been encouraged. Our students have had a huge positive impact on our community, have won numerous national and local service awards for their service projects (16 have started their own nonprofits), and many have continued to be committed volunteers and advocates as adults. It doesn't get better than that.

HC: Professionalizing the delivery of healthcare to students and staff.
TL: That’s hard to answer. I don’t quite know what mark I have left so far. But I do know what mark I want to leave behind and will hopefully be able to obtain. I want to leave knowing that I was part of building a successful science program for all grade levels here at Sierra Canyon. I want students to graduate from SC with an appreciation for the sciences regardless of their science level or ability.  
Lower School: 11052 Independence Avenue
Middle and Upper School: 20801 Rinaldi Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311  | 818.882.8121
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.