Elementary School Teacher
First Place: Danielle Wilson
Music and Physical Education
Liberty Arts Academy, Mesa
By the time she got to third grade, Danielle Wilson still couldn’t read. Then, a teacher by the name of Anthony Smith took an interest in her, working with her until she mastered that vital skill.
It also set Wilson on course to be a teacher. “He took an extreme interest in helping me,” Wilson said of Smith, now a principal at Chandler Unified’s Auxier Elementary School.
“I pretty much decided then that I wanted to have an impact on children like that.”
With a master’s degree in curriculum development and nine years of teaching experience, Wilson teaches an unusual combination of subjects to largely kindergarten and pre-school children – unusual, that is, until you realize “they’re at the age where they’re just learning where their feet are.”
She mixes music and physical education – one class had them using hula hoops to the James Bond 007 theme music – and said teaching “is a lot of fun,” for both her and her students.
Wilson, who also sings, plays piano, clarinet and drums and is three years into learning the guitar, said every day she comes to school and practices the care and attention with her students that Smith did when she was a little girl.
Second Place: Felice Davis, Kindergarten
Mesa Public Schools, Mesa
Third Place: Cynthia Kirchner, Second grade
Chandler Unified School District, Chandler