One In A Million: February 2024: Deserae Duran


Name: Deserae Duran

School & District: Flora Thew Elementary / Tempe Elementary School District

Grade(s) you teach: 2nd Grade

How many students in your class(es) this academic year? 19

How long have you been a teacher? 3.5 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?

I became a teacher because I want to help make a difference in children’s lives and help them grow every day!

Who was your most inspirational teacher & why?

I have two, their names were Mrs. Dhu and Mrs. Barksdale. They always pushed me to do my very best, made me feel loved every day, and they still inspire me today!

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?

Low pay, teacher shortage, substitute shortage, larger class sizes, burn out, etc.

How do these issues affect your day-to-day?

The pay issue affects me every day, so much so that I had to get a 2nd job to support myself. I love teaching and I obviously didn’t get into this profession for the pay, but if we did get paid livable wages, it would help so many people.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?

I spend way more than $250 a year on my classroom a year, so it’s nice to get some of it back.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality?

I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but the mental exhaustion was something I was not prepared for.

Why do you think, teachers burn out so quickly?

The workload is nonstop and at times, we don’t have the proper support, I am extremely lucky to be at a school that has such a strong support system and a positive culture all around.

Do you typically feel appreciated or recognized as a teacher?

I have a great group of students who tell me how much they love me daily, and that is as all the appreciation that I need.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?

I enjoy taking trips to my hometown to hang out with my family, hang out with my friends, getting dinner, a massage & when I can, taking trips to Utah (to visit my brother, sister-in-law, nephew and god-daughter).

What are some of the most thoughtful & effective ways parents & the community can show gratitude?

Thoughtful gifts, snacks for students, and just overall recognition.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish for Arizona children is that every student has a loving, dedicated educator who provides a safe learning environment where they are able to flourish and meet their goals!

What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom & who do people contact if they want to help out?

I need more arts and craft supplies and flexible seating. You can email me.

What types of items/prizes are meaningful to you to win/be gifted?

Gift cards for a spa or Amazon gift cards.

 What is/are your FAVORITE…

– Color? Light pink

– Food/restaurant? OHSO brewery, chick fil a, wingstop, The porch, any pizza place, sushi, Postinos, & coffee!

– Music/group/artist? Drake, Sza, & Brent Faiyaz

– Sport/athletics team? Baseball & Steelers.

– Pastime/hobby? I enjoy baking, crafting, and taking longggg naps.

You will be able to see and support this teacher as a part of our Feel Like a Million Dollars competition this year.  The winner of the competition will be announced at our annual fundraiser, which takes place in July!


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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+