REA Member Highlight: DeVonna Chatman, Auburn

Welcome to our series shining a spotlight on the remarkable stories and achievements of our REA teacher union members. As educators, they inspire, innovate, and shape the future generation every single day. Join us as we celebrate their passion, dedication, and the incredible impact they have on their students, schools, and communities.

Meet DeVonna Chatman, a true example of dedication and perseverance. Her journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and dedication. Starting as a student within the district, she embarked on a remarkable path, transitioning from a bus driver to a paraprofessional, and finally realizing her dream of becoming a teacher. Her story is not just one of professional growth, but of unwavering commitment to the students and the community she serves.

DeVonna’s journey in education began in 2000 when she became a bus driver for the district. In 2006, she transitioned to a paraprofessional role, where she dedicated herself to supporting students for over a decade until 2017. Throughout her career, DeVonna always harbored a deep desire to become a teacher, recognizing the profound impact she could make on students’ lives. Her innate service-oriented nature and love for seeing students grow in their reading and writing abilities, which built their self-esteem and self-worth, fueled this aspiration. In the summer of 2018, DeVonna seized the opportunity to pursue her dream and began student teaching at Auburn before being placed as a certified teacher at Wilson Aspire.  She is now a beloved member of the Auburn teaching community and has been, for the past six years. For DeVonna, being a teacher is not just a job—it’s her passion. She cherishes the opportunity to make a difference in her students’ lives every day.

DeVonna Chatman’s journey isn’t just about her—it’s about the future she’s building for her children and the example she’s setting for them. She hopes that her story will inspire them, showing them that with hard work and sacrifice, anything is possible. She believes in pushing through the struggles, keeping her eyes on the prize, and constantly asking, “What do we need to do today to have a better tomorrow?” DeVonna knows that life is about choices and consequences, and she teaches her children the importance of taking responsibility for their actions. She believes in the power of determination and reminds her children that they have the ability to choose their own destiny. For DeVonna, achieving your goals often requires sacrifice, but it’s always worth it to keep moving forward.

DeVonna attributes much of her teaching philosophy to her past teachers, especially Ms. Portis, who showed her how a caring teacher can truly make a difference in a student’s life. Inspired by this example, DeVonna brings the same level of care and dedication to her own classroom. She firmly believes in advocating for her students, no matter what, and she’s willing to go to any lengths to ensure their success. For DeVonna, building relationships and earning respect from her students starts with showing them how much she genuinely cares. She is committed to pushing, guiding, and encouraging her students, reminding them that no matter what challenges they may be facing, those challenges do not define them. She empowers her students to believe that they have the power to change their lives for the better.

Her dedication extends beyond her role as a teacher; she also brings that same level of commitment to her responsibilities as a union member. She has been a union steward for two locals, she understands the importance of being an active member. To DeVonna, being part of a union is empowering because it ensures that every member has a voice in their profession and within the union itself. She firmly believes that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’ve been silenced and rendered powerless. DeVonna is passionate about ensuring that every member’s voice is heard, advocating tirelessly for the rights and well-being of her fellow educators.

DeVonna’s advice to fellow educators is simple yet profound: connect with other teachers. She knows firsthand the value of mentorship, having someone who can listen to your challenges, offer advice, and provide support when needed. DeVonna encourages educators to find mentors who can not only offer guidance but also serve as a sounding board for those tough days. She believes in the power of connection to remind teachers of their purpose, especially on days when they may feel discouraged. Through support, encouragement, and shared experiences, educators can find the strength to overcome any challenge and continue making a difference in the lives of their students.