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The student news site of de Toledo High School

The Prowler

The student news site of de Toledo High School

The Prowler

An Interview with Ms. Vane, the ‘Mom’ of de Toledo

Ms. Vane
A lovely picture of science teacher Ms. Vane in nature (Pismo Beach, CA).

Over the past few days, I had the amazing chance to interview Ms. Debbie Vane of de Toledo. In my opinion, Ms. Vane is an extremely nice teacher, always wanting the best for her students. I have been in Ms. Vane’s biology and Earth Science classes for almost two years now, and I can undoubtedly say that her class is one of my favorites. In her class I learn something entirely new and interesting every day. 

Ms. Vane has been a teacher for 22 years and currently teaches a few different classes, including Earth Science, chemistry, and Chemistry in the Community. She went to the University of Northern Colorado and University of Phoenix. 

Why did you become a teacher at de Toledo?

My son Devan finished high school and was going to college. Teaching at de Toledo had been a “dream job” for me for a number of years, but I couldn’t do it while Devan was still in school.

How did you become the mom of dTHS?

I guess you would have to ask some of the dTHS seniors. It started at Shabbaton last year when students would come to me when they needed something. I also think that I was missing Devan, and I was missing “mothering” my own child. It’s in my nature to be helpful and I’m protective of my students.

What’s your favorite thing about de Toledo?

The students are my favorite thing!

What is your favorite question you get asked in science?

Any “what if…” question. I think these questions show the curiosity, creativity, and imagination of students and they are what drives scientific inquiry.

If you couldn’t be a science teacher, what would you be instead? 

I would be a scientist. When I was in high school, I first wanted to be a marine scientist, but then I saw the movie “Jaws,” and it changed my mind. I switched to Earth Science and Geology.

What did you do before teaching?

I was a geologist. I did environmental assessments and clean-up projects for oil refineries, chemical companies, and agricultural businesses.  

I heard a funny story from a friend about how a class was so bad you had to give homework.  Have you ever had to give homework to any of your classes?

I have given homework to my students, but I prefer to do the work in class, where the students receive support, and can learn with and from their peers. I had to give homework when I taught in public school. I would only give 2 to 3 problems per night and the students could call me for help on problems.

Many times I would FaceTime (before Zoom), to help them with math problems. After that, I decided that it was better to do most, if not all, of the work in class. I think students need down time when they leave school to focus on family and friends.

 Has anyone ever actually gotten chemicals in their eyes during one of your classes? 

No, they have not. I am a stickler about lab safety when using chemicals during labs.

Has there ever been any sort of accident during one of your classes as a teacher?

One time, I had a student get hydrochloric acid on his finger. We quickly rinsed his hand under water, but he worried all day that something terrible was going to happen to him. After that, he didn’t want to go anywhere near the chemicals. Over time, he became more comfortable and successful with using chemicals. No more accidents. 

Do you have any pets?

I have had dogs for most of my life. Two years ago, we lost our girl, Shadow. She was a 15-year old lab and a beloved member of our family. The loss hit us hard so we have not gotten another pet…yet.

I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and for being a great teacher.


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About the Contributor
James Siegel
James Siegel, Contri
 James Siegel was a sophomore at de Toledo. He wrote on The Prowler in 2022-2023. He loved learning about others and taking a step back into the life of a de Toledo High School student. 

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