Desiree St. Louis grew up in Los Angeles. She attended San Francisco State, where she got her BA in Liberal Studies and her Masters in Equity and Social Justice and Education. She has worked at John Muir Elementary for the last 7 years, where she’s worked in partnership with the students, families, and educators as the family liaison. During Her first year at John Muir, she worked as a classroom paraprofessional supporting students with IEPs before transitioning to Family Liaison for the last six years. A role that has allowed her to find unique and exciting ways to use her degrees to connect with and celebrate the students and families she and the educators at John Muir serve.
She spends her days working closely with the Beacon Program to develop programs and events that help parents and families feel rooted and connected to their school community. On any given day or week she is working on cultural celebrations, end of year promotions, peace walks, empathy and equity training for staff, school site councils, parent leadership and connecting families to outside support and programs through the city when they are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity.
When asked what she loves about her job, she said, “I love connecting with students and families to make sure they feel supported and welcomed. I work hard to ensure our school is a safe and welcoming space for all our families. One of my favorite events that I’ve developed over the last few years is the African American, Latinx, and Rainbow Read-In.”
Desiree looked to the National African American Read-In for inspiration when developing the read-in events for John Muir. She started with the African American and Latinx read-in and then expanded in recent years to include a Rainbow Read-In that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. Desiree reaches out to and invites parents, community leaders, and staff who identify with that culture to come read to students.
The response from the community and students has been incredibly positive, “Our Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ students are so excited to have people come who they get to see themselves reflected in. The read-ins have helped shape the school into a welcoming and inclusive space. Just this year, for the Rainbow Read-In, we had transgender community members come and parents that use they/them pronouns . The Read-Ins allow students to see themselves and have a chance to feel seen and cared for. Every year it gets bigger and more volunteers come to continue to make history at Muir. Currently, we are the only school in SFUSD that does the Rainbow Read-In every year, and I am so happy to be an ally that created something this amazing.”
If you are interested in bringing any read-ins to your school, Desiree shared the following resources.