- "Miss Desjardin had not been able to get the image of Carrie White out of her mind all weekend. Carrie, surrounded by tampons, screaming, blubbering on the tile floor, a wet napkin plastered squarely in the middle of her pubic hair and her own sick, angry reaction before learning that Carrie was oblivious to the ancient cycle of female menstruation."
- "I feel that I would kill myself before ever teaching again. If I had only reached out to that girl, if only, if only…"
- ―Miss Desjardin
Rita L. Desjardin best known as Miss Desjardin, is a major character in Stephen King's Carrie. She is the young, attractive and lively P.E. teacher at Ewen High School in the town of Chamberlain, Maine. It is unknown if she is related to Brigette Desjardin from Gwendy's Button Box.
- "Miss Desjardin, their slim, non-breasted gym teacher, stepped in, craned her neck around briefly and slapped her hands together once, smartly. “What are you waiting for, Carrie? Doom? Bell in 5 minutes." Her shorts were blinding white, her legs not too curved but striking in their unobtrusive muscularity. A silver whistle, won in college archery competition, hung around her neck."
- "When the girls were gone to their second period classes, and the bell had been silenced several of them had slipped quietly out the back door before Miss Desjardin could begin to take names, Miss Desjardin employed the standard tactic for hysterics. She slapped Carrie smartly across the face. She hardly would have admitted the pleasure the act gave her, and she certainly would have denied that she regarded Carrie as a fat, whiny bag of lard. A first-year teacher, she still believed that she thought all children were good. Carrie looked up at her dumbly, face still dispassionately oblivious. "Get up and tend to yourself Carrie". "I'm bleeding to death!" Carrie screamed, and one blind, searching hand came up and clutched Miss Desjardin's white shorts. It left a bloody hand print. The gym teacher's face contorted into a pucker of disgust and she suddenly hurled away and Carrie came stumbling, to her feet. "Get over there!" Miss Desjardin yelled. Carrie stood swaying between the showers and the wall with its dime sanitary napkin dispenser, slumped over, breasts pointing at the floor, her arms dangling limply. She looked like an ape. Her eyes were shiny and blank. "Now", Miss Desjardin said with hissing, deadly emphasis, "You take one of those napkins out… no, never mind the coin slot, it's broken anyway.… take one and… damn it, will you do it! You act as if you never had a period before." "Period?" Carrie said. Her expression of complete unbelief was too genuine, too full of dumb and hopeless horror, to be ignored or denied. A terrible and black foreknowledge grew in Rita Desjardin's mind. It was incredible, how could it be? She herself had begun menstruation shortly after her 18th birthday and had gone to the head of the stairs to yell down excitedly: "Hey, Mum, I'm on the rag!" "Carrie?" she said softly. She advanced toward the girl. Carrie flinched away. At the same instant, a rack of softball bats in the corner fell over with a large, echoing bang. They rolled every which way, making Desjardin jump. "Carrie, is this your first period?" But now that the thought had been admitted, she hardly had to ask. The blood was dark and flowing with terrible heaviness. Both of Carrie's legs were smeared and splattered with it, as though she had waded through a river of blood. "What's a period, oh my stomach hurts, I have cramps". Carrie groaned. "That passes", Miss Desjardin said. Pity and self-shame met in her and mixed uneasily."
In the novel, Miss Desjardin is in her first year as a gym teacher and therefore receives a little guidance from the assistant principal, Mr. Morton. As the story begins, Miss Desjardin at first feels the same disgust that everyone feels for Carrie White.
But when she witnesses Carrie being humiliated and harassed by the other girls in the locker room for her hysterical reaction to her first period and realizes that Carrie didn't even know what a period was, she takes her side and wants to punish the girls, that bullied her by having them suspended for 3 days and banned from the Senior Prom, but the principal, Mr. Grayle settles on a lesser punishment. a week of boot-camp style detention in the gym, refusing to attend it will result in 3 days suspension from school and banishment from the Prom. In Miss Desjardin's view, the only reason why the administrators didn't go along with her proposed punishment was because they are all ruled by men and thus didn't really understand just how nasty the girl's behavior had been. The lead bully, Chris Hargensen skips the detention and thus is banned from the Prom. Mr. Grayle reprimands Miss Desjardin for cursing at Christine, but stands by her, when Christine's lawyer, who is also her father, threatens to sue the school, unless Christine is allowed to attend the prom and Miss Desjardin fired from her job. At the prom, she talks to Carrie about her own prom night and how she was several inches taller than her date and felt awkward, but she still remembered it as a beautiful event and later congratulates her for winning Prom Queen. Chritine rigs a cord connected to 2 buckets above Carrie and Tommy Ross and pulls it, when they are on the stage, drenching them in pig’s blood. Everyone laughs and Miss Desjardin gets influenced by the laughter that she tries to hide it from Carrie, but to no avail as Carrie uses her telepathic powers to read her true thoughts. Miss Desjardin later partially ceases to laugh and goes over to Carrie, who pushes her aside with her incredibly strong telekinetic power, because Carrie knew that deep down inside she was also laughing at her by telepathically reading her mind. Once outside, Carrie uses her telekinetic powers to wreak the school, then leaves for home, destroying everything she passes. Miss Desjardin is one of the few survivors of the "The Black Prom”, who managed to escape in the nick of time.
2 weeks after the catastrophe, Miss Desjardin retires from teaching, implicitly saying that she is secretly consumed with guilt over Carrie because of the behavior she showed at The Black Prom and to which she is sure, that it contributed to Carrie's murderous rampage and also states, that she would rather kill herself than to teach again.
It is also implied she constantly has nightmares since then because of what happened.
Only after the shower incident she begins to warm up to Carrie's loneliness, but even then she punishes the girls only to clean her conscience regarding the slapping so that she could still continue to hate her. That's why, when Carrie becomes the victim of that evil prank, she also laughs instead of helping her and Tommy Ross, for which she had a duty under these circumstances and that's why she resigns as a teacher after the disaster, because she knows she is guilty and feels regret and remorse about what had happened and it is this guilt, that later consumes her, because she should have known better and because of the horrible consequences of her own mean behavior, which also nearly did cost her own life. Finally, she also knows she should have investigated the place of the disaster more thoroughly, which also contributed to the tragedy.
In her letter of resignation she doesn't mention all this, but it is implied in the words "if only, if only…".
Miss Desjardin is renamed as Miss Collins in the 1976 film and she is portrayed by Betty Buckley.
Miss Collins is one of the first characters to show kindness towards Carrie White by prompting the other girls to pass the ball to her. During the shower scene where Carrie was mistreated, the light bulb bursts, while she tended her. Later, she goes with Carrie to the principal and explains what happened. The principal gives the girls a week's detention at her convenience or refusal of their prom tickets and 3 days suspension. Miss Collins tells the girls how upset, furious, mad, and angry she is with them. She makes them all do a merciless, week-long, boot camp-style detention to serve as a punishment. When Christine Hargensen refuses, Miss Collins slaps, argues, and fights with her and kicks her out of prom. Later on, Miss Collins sees an upset Carrie and asks her what's wrong and tells her how pretty she is and raises her hopes of finding someone. She finds Sue Snell distrustful about wanting Carrie at prom and tells them off, warning them not to hurt her. At prom, Miss Collins shares her prom story with Carrie and the two of them hug. She is later seen at the coronation of the Prom King and Queen. When Miss Collins spots Sue, who tries to warn her about the bucket and kicks her out of the gym. When the blood is poured onto her, however, she starts to cry. When Carrie sees everybody laughing at her, she sees Miss Collins laughing and saying, "Trust me Carrie, you can trust me". As the massacre starts, Miss Collins can be seen trying to revive Tommy Ross with Cora Wilson and a few others. She can also be seen grabbing Cora's ears trying to see if she had anything to do with the cruel prank Christine pulled. Miss Collins and others try to carry Tommy and find help, but Carrie's telekinesis intercepts the crowd and pins Miss Collins to the side as Carrie kills her by crushing her with a falling basketball goal post like a helpless female poodle.
Notes: This is only film adaptation where she dies.
In the 2002 version , Rita is portrayed by Rena Sofer and her name is spelled "Desjarden".
Miss Desjarden is a bit rougher than Miss Collins in the original. She witnesses how Morton's desk moved five inches after the shower incident, when Carrie was in the room.
After finding out that Christine and her top right-hand woman, Tina Blake, compounded Carrie's locker-room humiliation by vandalizing her locker and filling it with tampons, an angry Desjarden hurls a bag full of tampons at them the next day. She then announces that they've been sentenced to a week of detention, telling that skipping the punishment would result in three days' suspension and banishment from the prom. Chris, refusing to take her punishment, storms out. The Principal reprimands Desjarden for this, but stands by her when Christine's father threatens to sue unless Desjarden is fired from her job.
At the prom, she talks to Carrie about her own prom date; in this version, she says her date carried a fake gun to imitate James Bond but he ended up arrested. As a result, she was by herself at the prom until her father came and took her home. She also tells Carrie that things change and not always for the best: the pretty, popular girls will be fat, cute boys will be bald and the miserable ones might have a happy life.
When Carrie begins destroying the gym telekinetically in revenge for being drenched in pigs' blood, for Tommy's death and for the following laughter, Miss Desjarden sends two students to carry Tommy's body and leads an escape through a vent (instead of the fire doors, as in the book). She saves ten students and is the last one to leave and has to see, how objects are moving in an unexplained way through the air and the gym. She is nearly electrocuted to death, but manages to survive.
She reports the events to Detective John Mulchaey (David Keith) when she was interrogated about it, that Carrie had telekinetic powers based on what she once saw on Morton’s office and what she had to see during the Black Prom. She states that the disaster was caused by Carrie using her telekinetic ability in vengeance for what happened.
It was implied she would be a part in the TV series, which never materialized because of the low ratings of the TV-movie.
Miss Desjardin was portrayed by Judy Greer in the movie. Her lines were similar to Betty Buckley's lines in the original. Miss Desjardin is first seen telling the ladies to get their caps on and get in the water to play pool volleyball. She is then seen trying to calm down Carrie and slaps her to get sense back into her. She then brings Carrie to the office. Later on, she punishes Christine and the rest of the girls via detention and kicks Christine out of the prom and suspends her, when she doesn't want to submit to the detention. When she finds out about the Sue's and Tommy's intentions about Carrie, she warns them not to play a joke on Carrie, similar to the original version. She later tells Carrie, how beautiful she is and tells her, what she can wear at the prom. Miss Desjardin is at the prom dancing and talks to Carrie. Later, after Carrie is humiliated, Miss Desjardin tries to reach out to Carrie, but Carrie pushes her to the floor. Miss Desjardin is seen watching in shock, when she witnesses Tommy's death and then in horror as Tina literally burns to death like a grilled giant gourami. Before Carrie electrocutes the people in the gym like a catfish, she grabs Miss Desjardin by the throat in a choke-hold and throws her to the stage, away from the wet gym floor, thus saving her from death and wrath. She later looks in disbelief, scared, shock and surprise, when she sees Carrie flying towards the exit after that.
She is last seen outside the gym with other survivors near her, wearing a cast on her arm and looking severely traumatized, scared, and guilt-ridden, while she silently tells Sue, who goes to her, that Tommy is dead. She then watches Sue go away in direction of Carrie.