DeAna Duncan VANDY

DeAna Duncan said her career as an educator with Wilson County Schools is very rewarding.

She’s taught for nine years at Wilson Central High School and in August will begin a new adventure at Green Hill High School in Mt. Juliet. Duncan teaches Audio Visual Production.

“My favorite moments are when I witness my students’ successes — those moments when you see the light bulbs begin to glow,” she said. “There isn’t a better feeling than seeing a student, current or former, reach their goals — no matter how extraordinary or small those goals may be.”

Duncan was born in San Jose, Calif. The music business brought her family to Tennessee, where her parents had been born.

“My father eventually became the owner of a record pressing plant in Nashville, which became the favorite spot for field trips in my elementary school years,” she said.

Duncan attended Mt. Juliet Junior High and Mt. Juliet High School. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, but attended Belmont, NYU and ASU Fine Arts Summer Programs. She has a BFA in printmaking with a minor in museum studies and anthropology, an M. Ed in teaching and learning from Cumberland University and is currently in graduate courses for eLearning and instructional design at UC Irvine.

Although Duncan is no longer married to her husband of 21 years, Derek Elwell, she said they remain the best of friends and are a “cohesive family.”

They have two sons, Henry and Charlie. “I also have their ‘brothers from other mothers’ Jamie and Azra,” she said.

She enjoys photography, drawing, painting and traveling.

Duncan is in the process of creating a nonprofit called Middle TN Student Film Alliance.

“My goal is to connect middle and high school students interested in film making with businesses that provide equipment and mentors to assist in productions and film competition sponsors. There are many Tennessee schools that don’t offer AV or Media courses and those aspiring film makers don’t have access to training and camera equipment,” she explained. “My seniors at Green Hill and my former WCHS students will be the founders as soon as we can get into the classroom to brainstorm the project this fall.”

She called her mother the woman she admires most.

“I am known in the district as ‘Felicia Duncan’s daughter’ and I embrace that title with honor,” Duncan said, noting that her mother was a teacher for many years.

“I am also inspired by my now former student, Isabelle Leonard. I met her as a freshman in my AV1 class when she was an aspiring actress who was always the star of our video projects and now she is on her way to begin her college career at USC School of Cinematic Arts as an award-winning female student director,” Duncan said. “Isabelle has always been unique and bold. She and I have grown together through our love of film and I feel she has made me a better teacher along the way. As an educator, sometimes you find the hardest students to teach are the most advanced. Isabelle continued to challenge me as her talent for directing and editing became apparent.  Having Isabelle as a student I was able to see the extent of my reach as an educator. She showed me there is no ceiling for the hope you can have for your students and the trust they have in your mentorship.”

To nominate someone for the Woman of Wilson feature, send information to Sabrina Knowles at

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