My journey towards becoming a teacher has been a rather strange roundabout trip!

My early childhood, I lived in Germany. When we moved to California, I was a bit behind my other classmates as my English wasn’t very developed and schools in Germany teach at a different pace than American ones. My grandmother, who during her life was a 3rd grade teacher, flew to California to help me get settled and catch up. She spent many hours with me teaching me to read, count American money, tell time, and many other things. The time spent with her, though, never felt like tutoring or school. We were just playing games together! The fact that these games taught me all of the above skills didn’t occur to me. At school, we were more focused on rote memorization. Pages upon pages of addition and subtraction problems for us to memorize were handed out daily. Typing lessons were given with our hands covered, though we rarely typed actual words, just different letters to show we knew how to locate them. It wasn’t much fun.

As I got older, I started to notice that I reacted much better to activity and game-based learning than these long lists of vocabulary or math problems to memorize. My grandmother was always there with suggestions and fun ideas. She really was a fantastic teacher! I grew up wanting to be a lawyer like my father, but as I got older, I realised that work would never make me happy. After I graduated college and got a job, I decided to take some time to figure out what I really wanted. During that time I got a part-time job at my synagogue as their summer camp director and later as the youth group advisor. I noticed more and more that my part time job with the kids was becoming more important to me than my full-time desk job. As I moved up and took on more responsibilities, later becoming the Youth Director for the entire congregation, I finally found my passion. I wanted to teach!

For two years I worked at an international school in the Netherlands in the High School Library while doing a TCNJ dual MEd/teaching credential program over my summers to try and reach my goal. Since then, I have been really enjoying my time teaching PYP 4 and MYP German at the Children’s International School in Moss, Norway. I really hope that I can be the kind of teacher to my students that my grandmother was to me.

Grandma in Florida.2 


1 comment on “Biography”

  1. Cindy Benton

    Dani, I think “strange roundabout” trips are what our entire class has in common–a trend! Your story illustrates how early experiences provide the background for understanding effective learning. Whether from parents, grandparents, or a favorite teacher, we are imprinted with very personal connections to what makes good learning that we often come back to in later years. The gradual realization of a passion for teaching is often a predictable evolution from those early experiences. Understanding of what is effective instruction–and that you want to (and can) do that. You’ll be ready for student teaching–piece of cake.

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