Meet Gateway students’ #1 Cheerleader: Math Instructor Mrs. Misty Loucks! She is a champion of students and believes that every one who walks through the door at Gateway College and Career Academy has worth and the ability to succeed. She’s also one of the rare math teachers who actually prefers using a calculator! Read on to find out a little more about Mrs. Louks and who she named a frog after in middle school biology.
When did you know you wanted to be an educator?
I started in the early 2000’s as an SDC instructional assistant for eight graders. The classroom teacher was stranded in Texas during winter break and was unable to get back to the classroom by the time school reopened. It was a terrible flu season and substitutes were scarce. I ended up taking over the classroom for three weeks until her return. I was highly praised for my work with the students in both academics and classroom management and it was at that point I decided to pursue my teaching credential.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My favorite teacher was probably my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. White, and my 7th grade biology teacher, Mr. Mahoney.
Mrs. White was the first teacher with whom I spent an entire school year since kindergarten. The previous teachers were harsh and didn’t understand the ‘holes’ in my academic record. Mrs. White took what I knew and built on my talents. She was kind and patient, treating all of her students as individuals.
Mr. Mahoney was a ‘super cool’ biology teacher. During the summer he worked as an EMT and taught CPR with first aid. He told stories of his experiences in the field and let us hang out in the classroom during lunch. I dissected my first frog in his class and called it Mr. Filute, which was the name of the school’s history teacher. When I told Mr. Mahoney what I named my frog, he said I deserved an A. Those two teachers never got along!
How does GCCA’s mission and vision align with your personal values?
I believe that education should incorporate an individualized personal path. Educational timelines and benchmarks are created from theories and standards set by man. I personally believe that this formula is an incorrect approach to education. Students need to be viewed holistically and as individuals. Many of our students come to our school feeling they are failures. I do not see them in that light. More than a few come to class while juggling jobs, taking care of families, finding their own identities, facing homelessness, and often, hunger. These are some of the struggles many of our students face daily, and in doing so, they demonstrate their strengths and their desire to achieve success. Alongside my students, I learn and grow and become stronger each semester. At times, I have to put my time and emphasis on supporting them with their personal issues in order to help them find the gear to complete the assignments, which will lead to their ability to graduate with a high school diploma. In this regard, I believe that the education of our students, in all aspects of life, can be cultivated, grown, and harvested. In my estimation, my values align closely with those of GCCA. This school subscribes to similar principles in educating our youth.
What do you love most about your role?
What I love most at Gateway are my students. I tell everyone that I do not work for the administration; I work for the kids. I do get frustrated once in a while, but when these moments arise, I step back and reflect on how proud I am of each individual student. I also love that I can focus on the students’ individual needs, rather than the notion that ‘what fits one, fits all.’ At Gateway, I can polish, adapt, or even throw out a plan to achieve what is needed to have successful students. I enjoy working with the staff here at Gateway. Many times we get together and discuss different ideas and plans when we notice students struggling. We all work for the best interests of all of our students.
What else would you like us to know about YOU?
There are many things that are already known about me in the Gateway family. Although I graduated a year early from High School, I didn’t know how to read a clock until college! My Bachelor’s degree is in visual art, and my Masters degree is in educational technology and design. Although I now teach math, I am not good at doing math problems in my head. After all, I am not a calculator! I do know, however, how to formulate the answers and this is a necessary skill. I am not great with electronics, including my cell phone (I hate cell phones). I have five legal names, none of which are my maiden name – wait for this – Amanda Misty Annette Messenger-Loucks! I am a huge animal lover, and have four cats, one dog, and three lizards. I love cooking, baking, and painting gnomes, furniture, and walls. In my younger years, I performed on four different continents with the RCC marching band! I was fortunate to perform in Australia, France, Japan and, of course, here at home in the U.S.A. I was the youngest member to join at that time at the age 15. The thing that is not known about me is that I am an introvert and shy around people. I have learned to overcome that, to a degree. One of my strongest beliefs is that every person is valuable and should be treated as such.
Gateway College and Career Academy (formerly Gateway to College) is an early college public high school launched in 2004, as an answer to the growing number of students who were disconnected from their education and not on track to obtain their high school diplomas. Our highly qualified teaching and counseling staff supports and guides our students on their educational pathways, establishing a bond of trust and the motivation to make it to the finish line.
Riverside City College is an ideal partner, helping our students transition to college education via concurrent enrollment in GCCA and RCC, and giving access to all of the college’s resources and supports.You belong here!