Noelle Morris: So you're in Texas, but your mother was a teacher.
Chris Dier: She was a teacher.
Noelle Morris: And so she was determined to get back here to the community. Did you come with or did you stay in Texas?
Chris Dier: So, I actually finished high school in Texas and then went to college in Texas. So my mom came back as soon as she was able.
She showed a perseverance that is really admirable. And she'll downplay it, but I think that she could have went anywhere to get hired, and do what she did.
She's a phenomenal teacher, which is why I'm here as a teacher, but she decided to come back to the community and stay in a trailer that was literally the size of a parking space. That's how they lined ‘em up. Set the bar high for doing things for the betterment of the community.
Noelle Morris: You said you went to college in Texas. So you just said she could have gone anywhere.
You too could have gone anywhere and been hired. So what brought you back to your home?
Chris Dier: So I think I also felt that connection to the community.
I remember going to college in Texas and just keeping a very close tie with my hometown. And when I was a senior, I really wasn't too sure what I wanted to do in life. I know a lot of teachers, they say it was when I was five, when I was six. I can't say that, to be honest, because I remember my mom coming home with lesson plans and grading, and at the dinner table doing work, and I saw the hard work and dedication.
And even though I also saw the impact she had on the community, everywhere we went, people stopped her. And a trip to the grocery store could literally last three hours because they were stopping my mom and telling them about their lives and thanking her. So I did see the positive side, but I also saw how hard she worked.
So it terrified me a bit. And I was scared of being a teacher. I didn't know if that's what I wanted. But I remember talking to my mom my senior year, and I was a little disillusioned by the career paths that I had in mind. And she said, why don't you come watch me teach and see it from my perspective instead of a student's perspective?
And I took her up on her offer. She's not a person you could really say no to. And I sat at that desk right there, and I watched my mom teach in this classroom. And I remember seeing real engagement happening and real inspiration happening in real time. It was fascinating. And the impact that she was making on the community.
I remember thinking, I want to move back to my home community and be a part of that process as well, because she was giving kids hope, and I saw that. Around the same time the BP oil spill happened in 2010 and so many students and their families, they lost their jobs.
And I saw that, and I really feel this. . . calling to get back there.
So after I graduated, I started teaching at St. Bernard Parish and I never looked back.
Noelle Morris: So you are teaching in the classroom where your mother taught.
Chris Dier: That's correct. This is where my mom taught and she retired after 40 years. When I came back to teach, I taught middle school for five years and that's what I wanted to do.
But when my mom retired from this classroom, she said, do you want to apply for my position? And that's how I started teaching at Chalmette High. And she felt so happy to leave her legacy in the hands of her son.