Myrtle Clark Outstanding Mathematics Educator Award
About the Award: This award recognizes an outstanding LPS mathematics educator.
Awarded Amount: $1,000
Nominated By: Mar-Lakuittia Overstreet, a fellow coworker at North Star High School
What professional growth opportunities is the nominee currently involved in and what would the nominee like to pursue in the future? Daniel is always looking to professionally grow in his mission for young people to help them overcome obstacles to fulfill their dreams, especially with students of color and in poverty. He just completed all his doctoral coursework in Educational Leadership with all A’s at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned his superintendent certification with only his dissertation left to finish. Daniel’s current work involves a qualitative study investigating the motivational factors of low-income Latinx students overcoming adversity to graduate high school and pursuing a career in teaching to help motivate others to succeed as well.
While researching student motivation and achievement, Daniel is involved in school improvement committees to help serve our school community. Daniel currently serves on the Cultural Proficiency Committee and the MTSS-B (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavior) Committee at North Star High School. While serving on these committees, Daniel has been proactive in applying what he has learned by presenting to school staff and supporting their capacity to serve students better. For example, he has utilized outside-of-school time to discuss, and plan and later helped present during our plan period times for a cultural proficiency lesson.
Daniel is also an adjunct professor at Union College, mentoring developing educators to be a part of the mission he strongly believes in. Although his future pursuits simply involve serving in any way he is called to, he is specifically passionate about finishing his research and looking into leadership conventions, such as the Latinos in Action Leadership Conference, to continue investing into his capacity to serve in his school community.
State how this award will enable the nominee to achieve fulfillment of their professional goals and future pursuits. Daniel willingly serves the lower-level math classes where students have struggled to find success because he wants to help inspire a new growth mindset with a newfound sense of hope and confidence to pursue their dreams. He often wins students over by sharing his own story of overcoming adversity. Daniel grew up in homeless shelters with his father, lacking trust in a world that came up short in providing his basic needs, but persevered with the support around him to still pursue and reach his goals. Daniel has a gift to make math fun and engaging, so much that even class covers filling in for his co-teachers have reported a great learning experience while serving alongside him for the day. Students who have never earned an A in any class find themselves achieving an A in what they use to consider their worst subject.
Daniel emphasizes how failure is not the end, but an opportunity to better understand self for those necessary adjustments to finally achieve success. Students often find hope and confidence to earn a passing grade in Daniel’s math classes, even though they may have had an unsuccessful experience with math before. In these cases, Daniel provides his students with a lot of support to succeed while maintaining high expectations. Daniel emphasizes his students’ hard work and not fearing mistakes. He reminds the students that it is not about how smart you are, but how willing you are to work and learn. Daniel inspires his students by sharing his own personal story of how he even started off in a lower math class than they did, before finding success. He shares his experience learning through computer games starting high school in a “pre-pre” algebra class because no one was teaching that low of a math class but eventually finished in AP Calculus his senior year. Daniel would emphasize that his success was not because of his “smarts,” but because of his hard work and the support around him in the school community. He assures his students of that same support and encourages them to learn from their mistakes, turn their situation around, and to never give up on their goals.
By considering Daniel for this award, we can celebrate two important values for students: Work hard to keep our dreams alive, despite any setbacks in life, and continue to grow by learning from our mistakes. This award would also celebrate the journey of a teacher of color providing hope for ALL students, who can relate to Daniel’s journey to never give up on their dreams. Daniel would be able to add this award to his inspirational story and utilize the financial support to finish up his doctoral research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and pursue leadership conventions for Latinx educators and leaders.