Person of the week is a kindergarten teacher from the Hamtramck School District

Posted at 10:38 PM, Sep 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-17 22:38:03-04

Ask just about anyone and you will find a teacher in their life that made a huge difference in their future.

Our Person of the Week is not only making an impact in the classroom she's making a difference in a whole community.

Danielle Nagle has been teaching for 16 years. The calling for helping others was simply in her blood-line after watching her mother work wonders on other students when she was a child. She knew that's the path she would follow as well.

Do you remember your first classroom? The sights, the sounds, your name tag, the crayons, the toys?

Imagine the effort it took to make that classroom warm and welcoming for little children. That's the gift of a teacher and Danielle Nagle knew early the classroom is where she wanted to be the difference maker.

She says, "It was probably middle school that I started to realize I loved being with children all of the time."

At 6 feet tall Danielle, whose mom and mentor was a teacher in the Detroit Public School System, is a loving presence in her kindergarten classroom at Dickinson East Elementary School in Hamtramck. Twenty-eight different languages are spoken in this school district and for these wide eyed kids who on the first day usually don't understand a word of English, it can be scary.

But the magic is in Danielle's teaching methods, making every new letter and word in the English language a new world of possibilities.

Danielle says, "You have to be animated when you're competing with a lot of technology and these kids are using those things a lot."

Danielle also goes into this community to connect with parents. It's through a program her principal started three years ago called "The Kindergarten Walk Around".  They go house-to-house to meet parents and students so they won't be greeted by a stranger on the first day of school.

Danielle says, "For a lot of our families, this is the first time they're with someone besides family. They're not being left with a babysitter or day care workers, for most maybe an older sister."

Principal Chris Vraniak says, "All of Daniel Nagle's efforts have made a huge difference. A lot of her work has been focused on kids 0-to-3 getting them the foundational skills and ready for school."

Danielle says, "When we started doing computerized testing my kids were 2 years or under where they were supposed to be nationwide."

She helped initiate a training program two days a week for parents to learn how to teach their kids at home. Thanks to the non profit Leaps and Bounds and the United Way they now have a training center at the school. Fifty-eight teachers, para pros, and even cafeteria workers underwent child care training.

Danielle was given an award from the American Federation of Teachers for advocating on behalf of teachers.

However, Danielle is quick to brush off individual accolades saying nothing is done without a lot of help from her own family, fellow teachers and community organizations.

Reflecting on it brought her to tears.

Danielle says, "There's not one thing I could have said I did on my own, I could not have completed any of those things without having the wonderful staff at Dickerson East they all go above and beyond."

Come November, Nagle will even teach these little ones about what being thankful is all about. With her children's help she makes a Thanksgiving feast complete with turkey and all the fixings.

Her mom even serves as her substitute when she needs time to do other work. It's a legacy to be proud of.

Principal Chris Vraniak says,  "I certainly feel grateful to work with Danielle. She's not just great in the classroom, so much of what she does goes above and beyond the normal responsibilities of a teacher."

After 16 years in the Hamtramck School District Danielle says her connection is too deep to leave now, it's like a family here and her impact is being felt far and wide.

So that's why we choose Dickerson East kindergarten teacher Danielle Nagle as our Person of the Week.