The Lebanon Democrat is in the process of running question-and-answer profiles of the Wilson County educators who have been selected as the teacher of the year in their respective schools.

Those individuals, from both the Wilson County School System and the Lebanon Special School District, are in contention for the Wilson County Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced later this spring.

We continue the series of profiles with a glance at Danielle Wilson, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Gladeville Elementary School …

Name … Danielle Wilson

School … Gladeville Elementary

Age … 30

What grade/subject do you teach? I teach fifth-grade math and science.

How long have you been in education (total years)? I am currently in my eighth year of teaching.

How many years have you taught at your current school? This is my fifth year at Gladeville Elementary.

What other schools have you taught at prior to your current school? I taught at Pennington Elementary in Metro Nashville Public Schools before coming to Wilson County Schools.

What is something unique about you — whether it’s a hobby, skill or past accomplishment — that most people likely wouldn’t be aware of? I enjoy being active, whether it’s working out and exercising or just being outside. I also actually made an F on my fifth-grade report card in math … and now, it’s my profession. I like to use that to talk to the students about productive struggle and being capable of much more than you let yourself believe.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time (hobbies, etc.)? I love reading whenever I am able, mostly thrillers. I also love being outside, whether it’s hiking, camping, playing with my two small boys, cooking out, etc.

How would you describe your teaching style? I like to be real with my students. I let them see me make mistakes. I talk about my family. I encourage struggle all in an effort for them to see me as a real person, not just a teacher.

Could you share a couple of strategies for how that you keep students engaged and motivated? No two days are the exact same in my classroom in a given week. There is a mix of direct instruction, peer tutoring, small groups, and independent study. There’s always a chance for movement to keep them engaged!

Have you ever encountered a challenge in teaching that required you to rethink your teaching methods and/or approach? Every new school year gives its own set of challenges when you are met with a brand-new, different group of kids. If I don’t rethink my teaching strategies each year to best suit the group that I have, then, I’m going to miss a great opportunity for growth with them.

What is different, unique and/or enjoyable about the school that you are currently teaching at? {The people here are amazing. I truly believe that I have the best, most uplifting, hardest-working, most passionate, funny group of colleagues. We truly are a family here.

Why did you choose teaching as a career path? I had several teachers that made an impact on my life, and I wanted to do the same for others. I want kids to know that they are more than their circumstances. They can accomplish so much more than they think is possible.

What is the most fulfilling part of teaching? It’s seeing the light-bulb moment when the productive struggle has paid off. It’s seeing the confidence grow in a student that has always believed the lie that they are bad at math. It’s building relationships and trust with students.

What is the most challenging part of teaching? It’s keeping up with the responsibilities that often seem to have to be done after school hours. Building relationships and being a part of the learning makes it difficult to grade, email, etc., during contract hours.

How has your view of teaching changed since you first embarked on your teaching career? When I first started teaching, I just wanted to get the best scores and be seen as the best. Now, years later, I’ve learned that academics and scores are good, but relationships are truly the best.

How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career, and how do you see it continuing to evolve going forward? Discipline and behavior has started to shift. Kids are growing up much faster due to social media and technology outlets. They are privy to much more than same-aged peers of the past.

If there was any one variable that you could control or enhance to help with the educational process, what would that be and why? It’s parental involvement. I wish that I could give every kid the home life, support, and involvement that they deserve. As teachers, we do our best to provide support and encouragement, but a lot of behaviors, motivation, discipline, and drive are learned from the home.

Who is somebody who has been especially impactful in your teaching career, and why did he/she make such an impact on you? My mother-in-law was in education for over 30 years. Hearing her stories and her passion for seeing and loving students as they are and where they are inspired me. I hope that after 30 years, I also still have that same passion to see each student as so much more than a number/score.

Could you share what has been one of your most memorable moments in teaching? There was an incident between two students, and some sensitive information about his family had been talked about, so I took one of them to the principal so that he could share what had happened and give his side. Before letting him start, the principal asked him if he would feel more comfortable sharing if I (the teacher) stepped out. He looked at her and said, “No, ma’am ... Mrs. Wilson’s family”. That hit me so hard, and I’ve never taken it for granted.

What is the most meaningful thing a student could say to you? It’s thank you. We pour our hearts into our lessons and students daily, so it’s nice to be told that we are appreciated.

How would you ideally like to be characterized or remembered as a teacher? I’d like to be remembered as the teacher that cared, the teacher that asked the tough questions, the teacher that made them step out of their comfort zone, the teacher that was real and taught her lessons with passion and a touch of sarcasm.

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