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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Danielle Panowicz 

School:  South Sioux City High School

Subjects:  English

State:  Nebraska 

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

I had teachers at every level--elementary, middle, high school, and college--who influenced me to want to teach. My fourth grade teacher taught me to be creative and spontaneous with my students; my middle school English teacher taught me to look outside the box and be a problem solver; my high school English teacher taught me to be excited about the content I was learning; my college Philosophy professor taught me to question all my beliefs and use reasoning and logic to form thoughts.
I was so very lucky to have these and other educators in my life to inspire me!

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

When I first started teaching, I was more timid and stressed about the art of teaching itself. I questioned everything I did and said and didn't always enjoy the day with my students. Now, I feel a sense of confidence with my content and a connection to my students that is not forced--it's relaxed and flows each day with much less effort.

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

You can look elsewhere for jobs, and you can even imagine what it would be like to be in a different occupation all together--and that's okay. But in the end, you were drawn to become a teacher for some reason, and that reason is still with you somewhere. So before you are too hard on yourself or decide to give up on teaching, try to locate that "reason" within your heart!

My best day in the classroom was when…

My students can have a discussion over some piece of literature they've all read, and I can sit back and listen, learn, and revel in their amazing insights! It's so much fun to hear what they have to say!

The best compliment I ever received was...

I have kept ALL the thank you notes I have ever received from all my students---they're in a folder in my room! They've said many things, but one of my favorites was from a senior soccer player. I helped him get through his junior year of Composition I, and he kept telling me he'd write me a thank you note; I waited and waited that year, but I didn't receive it. But the next year, I found a huge poster on my desk and a card. The poster was pictures of this student and his state championship soccer team, autographs from all his teammates and coaches, and a note of thanks from the student for helping him get through the class which then allowed him to be able to play his favorite sport and make such great memories.

What's your favorite part of the school year?

My favorite part of the school year is when my sophomore English II students present their School Improvement presentations to our superintendent. They all write their own essays; then they meet in groups to decide on one paper to expand upon in a technology-based presentation. The best part is that our superintendent truly listens to the students' concerns, and several of their ideas have come to fruition based on these classroom presentations. It is very empowering for the students!

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

Novels of all sorts!

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

Life Cereal...

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

"Big Brother"


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