Meet the Blogger

As I entered my professional career of teaching in the Fall of 2013, it was very competitive to find a job right away. Therefore, I began the year as a paraprofessional at Erickson Elementary School in Bloomingdale. All of the paraprofessionals were licensed educators that had not yet found a job, so the school was good about encouraging us to continue applying for full-time teaching positions. During my first few weeks working as a paraprofessional, I had a a few interviews for various districts and finally landed my own full-time teaching job at Gilberts Elementary School teaching 3rd grade (the grade that I hoped to be able to teach)! My beginning was quite unique for a few reasons. First of all, I got the call that I was officially hired on the morning of Friday, August 30, so I finished up my day as a paraprofessional and left as soon as I could to visit my new school and meet with my principal and team to figure out what needed to get done before I started. I then had Labor Day weekend to get myself and my entire classroom situated before starting the following Tuesday with 24 students. Secondly, the students had already been in school for a few weeks at this point, so my class was a melting pot of students that they pulled from all of the other third grade classrooms. See, what happened was that the school year began and more students enrolled than expected, so third grade was over their student capacity limit. There were four sections of third grade before I arrived, so they chose six students from each class and put them into my classroom. These students had already gotten used to the routines of their previous teacher, so I had to find a way to have them erase those routines from their memories and start fresh with my routines. It was a wild start, but I wouldn't have asked for it any other way. I am now finishing up my fourth year here at Gilberts Elementary School and have been lucky enough to stay in third grade each year. I absolutely love it! I found out at the end of January that I have been recommended for tenure, so I am excited for reaching that milestone! The pictures below are of me in my first wild yet wonderful year of teaching.

I have known since I was five that I wanted to be a teacher because I used to force my sister to play school with me. I absolutely loved it! I would plan lessons and have my sister sit on the floor with all of our Barbies and stuffed animals and teach her the lesson. I would make a whole day of it, giving her a snack time in the morning, recess breaks, and even lunch time! My sister hated it, but I was having a blast! Little did I know that 20 years later, I would be doing those same things for my career. During high school, I took child development electives that allowed me to help run a preschool located within the high school, as well as complete a semester student teaching in a fourth grade classroom at a local elementary school. This is when I decided that teaching was definitely for me. I chose Illinois State University for my undergraduate college experience because I knew that they had an excellent teaching program. During my senior year at Illinois State University, I participate in a full year of student teaching experience in a first grade classroom. During the year, I was able to complete eight weeks in another school in a 3rd grade classroom. It was then that I fell in love with the third grade age group and knew that it would be my ideal grade to teach.
I always knew that I wanted to go back to school for my masters degree at some point during my teaching career, so after completing my first three years of full time teaching at Gilberts Elementary School, I figured that I was ready to jump into my formal learning towards a masters degree. My coworkers and mentors always advised me to do it now before I'm married and have kids because it is difficult to manage schooling on top of all of the other responsibilities that you have with having a family of your own. Therefore, I applied last spring and summer and began my program here at National Louis this past Fall. I am definitely glad that I began my coursework at this stage in my life because the work load is tough to keep up with even without a family of my own, but I know the knowledge that I will gain from the graduate experience will be worth it.

Sports/Active Lifestyle:

I enjoy an active lifestyle and this habit began at a young age. Since the age of five, I have participated in various sports and activities such as gymnastics, soccer, dance, diving, track and field (hurdles, long jump, and pole vaulting). I competed in gymnastics competitively for club teams as well as for my high school team for 13 years. While in high school, I participated in three varsity teams for each competitive season of the school year. These sports were diving, gymnastics, and track, in which my focus and strength was in pole vaulting. I was lucky enough to make it to state twice for diving and three times for gymnastics. I set the record for my high school with pole vaulting as well. As I entered college, I wanted to focus on my career, so my competitive years of sports came to an end there. However, I continued an active lifestyle in any way that I could. I would run on the trail that ran through campus, ride my bike to class, and go to the recreation center as much as I could. I maintain that type of lifestyle to this day. My boyfriend and I enjoy challenging ourselves with active activities while on vacations together, We have done plenty of hiking, skydiving, white water rafting, and climbing a 14,439 foot mountain in Colorado, just to name a few.

Everyone who knows me knows that I love cats! I have always grown up with cats, so I am definitely a cat person. My boyfriend and I recently moved into an apartment together, so I do not have any cats that live with me currently, but we will see how long that lasts. The pictures below show my first family pet, Ginger (the brown/orange tabby cat), and my mom's current cat, Emma (the grey tabby cat). My family got Ginger when I was about three years old, and unfortunately she passed away about three years ago. She was 19 years old when she passed. That was hard because I had Ginger to keep me company for as long as I could remember. About a year after she passed, my mom got Emma. It was fun to have a kitten again and I enjoyed have a cat that loved to cuddle while I lived at home for the first few years of my career. The hardest decision of moving out was that I would have to leave Emma behind because she is my mom's cat. See, I really am a crazy cat lady. I'm sure I will havve one of my own soon enough!


The desire to travel runs in my genetics. My grandparents on my mom's side are always going somewhere in the world. They have been to just about every continent multiple times doing various activities such as scuba diving and bike riding. So, I think I have gotten my desire to travel as well as my active lifestyle from them. My international traveling journeys began in high school when I went to Austria and Hungary for a choir trip. While in college, I took a semester to study abroad in England. I had three months in England to attend classes, but I also did a lot of traveling around England and Europe. During this period, I visited Italy, France, and Spain as well. Since I began dating my boyfriend, we have done a lot of domestic traveling together. We have two long road trips together out west stopping in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and California. During these road trips we visited several national parks. We also went to Aruba together last summer. We don't have anything planned yet for this summer, but we will come up with something fun again. My goal is to make it to every continent at least once in my lifetime, so we want to plan a big trip together soon.


  1. Hi Danielle,

    It’s funny, even though my mom was a school nurse and health teacher, I never considered teaching as a possibility for me when I went off to college. Not even on my radar. But once that became my path, I realized that I too tortured my sister by playing school and making her my student. I made packets of handouts for her to complete, graded her work and made her practice handwriting on our little Fisher-Price blackboard that doubled as a toy box. I even walked her to the kitchen in a line (of one!) for “lunch time”. I’m nearly 4 years older than she is so it was fun for awhile. But once she started school herself, the shine quickly wore off!

    I bet your start at Gilberts was exhilarating if nerve wracking. I wish we didn’t have to do that to our colleagues or our students in this profession. No doubt it helped that you landed exactly where you wanted to be. Sounds like we have very similar feelings about the grades we teach. That’s great. Kids need adults who like them for who they are at a particular stage of development. Makes working together so much easier.

    Looking forward to learning with you again this term! ~Doug

    1. Doug,

      I am glad to hear that I was not the only one who tortured younger siblings to achieve my passion. What you described sounds exactly like what I would do with my poor sister. Looking forward to learning with you again this term as well!


  2. Hey Danielle!

    It is great to see you again in another course! Sounds like you had an interesting first year of teaching! I thought I got hired late when I got hired a week before school started, but that definitely must have been challenging to start once school had already started and with kids from all different classes! Kudos to you! I'm glad it all worked out for you and you are teaching the grade level you prefer and made it through tenure! I will be up for tenure next year as I am currently in my third year, but my boss told me I would have to probably punch a student to not get my tenure next year so I will just continue working hard and making the improvements suggested! I enjoyed all the travel pictures as it makes me super excited that we are getting close to summer to be able to go on vacations again. Anyways, I really enjoyed reading your blog and learning more about your life since we've been working together for a while and can't wait to learn more from each other again in this course.
    Briana Grenke

  3. Danielle this is a great introduction to you, thank you! The pictures you added as well as the subheadings made your post well organized and helped to tell your story. Very small world, I actually live in Bloomingdale (but my kids went to DuJardin when they were younger). I, too love cats! Our first cat Spanky lived to be 19 as well. Now we have another cat named Jackson and we are currently fostering a kitten for a cat shelter that is undergoing renovation and wanted to have the cats in homes during construction. Looking forward to learning with you this course.

  4. Danielle! It is great to "see" you in another course! It is always a great when we are looking in a grade level that we really enjoy. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do as well. The pictures you guys have taken look like the trips were a lot of fun. While you are traveling do you tend to pick up some information that you end up sharing with your students? CATS! I have 2 myself. They are brother and sister and I have had them since there for kittens. My sister has their mom cat, so it is nice to see her when I visit them in Florida. Cats are such a great cuddle buddies. I look forward to working with you again this term!

    1. My classroom is actual travel-themed! So, I definitely share many of my experiences with my students throughout the year through that. I always collect postcards wherever I go, so I encourage students to bring in and share postcards if they go somewhere on a trip at any point during the school year. Friends and family members of students even send us postcards! They all go onto a bulletin board that I have that has a large US and world map on it. I attach the postcard and connect it to the location in the US or the world with red yarn. It provides the kids with a mini geography lesson even though it is not included in the curriculum. We also have international pen pals that we write letters to and complete paper and digital projects with throughout the year. My classes have worked with classes from England, Australia, and India thus far. So many of the activities and learning that we do in my class is connected to my traveling experiences and passion for it.

  5. Hi Danielle - I enjoyed reading your post and getting to know you a little. I taught third grade for 8 years and absolutely loved it. The kiddos are at a great age in third grade and love coming to school. While I no longer have cats, I too had a brown tabby cat named Ginger! She was a wonderful companion, and often felt more like a dog than a cat -- she enjoyed playing fetch, would steal food from you and enjoyed walking outside on a leash! Thank you for sharing so much about yourself - your road trip looks fantastic!

  6. Hi Danielle, what a way to begin your teaching career! Kinda nerve-wracking to have a class all of a sudden, especially when the year had started and they were in other classes! Well, that's teaching, right, from the very beginning you learned to go with the flow, good on you!

    I'm sorry, quick question, or maybe I missed it: what did you get your Master's in? And that's cool that you knew from a young age that you wanted to be a teacher. But third grade?? I salute you, I could never teach elementary, I've been in high schools and universities my whole career. I bet they are adorable in third grade and so eager to learn!

    I also love to travel and on my bucket list is Aruba, was it wonderful? I've heard so many great things about that island...I enjoy all your pictures too. Thanks for a wonderful introduction,

    Carol G.

    1. I'm enrolled in the technology in education program through National Louis. Third grade definitely takes a lot of energy out of you throughout the day, but I get lots of hugs from students, so that helps keep me going! I salute YOU. I don't think I could ever do high school. I get mistaken for looking younger than 18 still, so I think I would blend in too much with the students and they wouldn't take me seriously. Aruba was amazing! The weather is always warm and beautiful...just be prepared for lots of wind if you go!


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