Teacher strives to give students gifts of motivation, determination

Published 8:52 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

Leesville native CaNetha Sturden’s passion for education has followed her through life.

“I have always loved reading and learning new things,” she explained.

Sturden was inspired to pursue a career as an educator by her childhood teacher, Marilous Francisco, who taught her from fifth grade to eighth grade at St. Lucy Catholic School in Long Beach, Calif.

“She dedicated well over 40 years to making sure that students left St. Lucy prepared not only for high school, but for life’s many experiences.”

Struden came back to Louisiana as a teenager, where she graduated from Leesville High School in 1990. After graduating, she earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in human services from Upper Iowa University. She continued her collegiate education by earning her Master’s of Arts in teaching from McNeese State University and her Master’s of Arts in reading from Grand Canyon University.

She is now a Doctoral Candidate in education leadership at Capella University.

She has taught at six institutions during her 18 years as an educator: Oberlin Elementary School, Oberlin High School, DeRidder Middle School, The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana, Washington-Marion Magnet High School and currently, Lake Charles College Prep.

At LCCP, she teaches English language arts for the Freshman Academy. There, she also assists the boys basketball team.

In the classroom, Sturden pushes her students to achieve goals that they didn’t think were possible. Witnessing a student realize their potential is one of her greatest joys. “I enjoy when the light bulb finally comes on,” she said. “I love when a student who didn’t think they could actually show growth in a skill area succeeds.”

She pushes her students to succeed, and it pays off. “I set high expectations that show them a standard that they can inspire to reach.”

Sturden makes it a mission to not only show her students their potential, but also help them access every possible opportunity their future holds. “I believe my job is to help students to discover the many paths of life.”

She is able to provide this for her students by building their skill set. “Through education, I would like to give them the gift of motivation and determination to be able to face all the many obstacles that they will face in life,” she said.

These practices are paramount to set the community’s future on a good course. “Education is the catalyst to everything that happens in our world.”

Sturden wants to contribute to the betterment of society by turning students into functional adults. “It is my desire to create a well-informed citizenry that is able to achieve anything it sets out to do.”

As a teacher, she knows that it is vital to remain passionate about education to succeed. All teachers should “know that you must love what you do.”

She recognizes that this can be difficult without consistent support. “It can appear to be a thankless job at times,” she said. “However, it’s when you run into a student at Walmart that lets you know it was your words that helped them get through a difficult time in life that remind you why it is worth it.”