Local Schools

Danielle Stewart Makes an Impact Greater Than Science

Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?

This is my 12th year in the classroom, 9th year at Gardendale. I have a Secondary General Science degree from Auburn University. I also have my Master’s in Exceptional Education from GCU. I currently teach General and AP Environmental Science. I have taught almost all the science courses in 9-12 grade, and Environmental Science quickly became my favorite with how relevant it is to the real world.

My husband, Steadman, and I have been married for 7 years and live in Morris. We have four children, Bryson (4), David (3), Scarlett Mae (3), and Olivia (1). You will typically find us in Driver Stadium on Friday nights in the Fall, and at other events throughout the school year. I love being able to see my students involved in extracurricular activities as well as introducing my own children to the opportunities they can be involved in as they get older.

Being a teacher is something I always dreamed of as a little girl. It’s really the only thing I ever wanted to become! A huge factor in my why to teaching is from watching my aunt in her classroom. She taught at Chalkville for years, until recently moving to Bryant Park. She is in her 24th year teaching (and was voted Second Mile Teacher for Bryant Park this year!). I can remember how much she enjoyed teaching and how she impacted my friends as well as other students over the years. I wanted to be able to impact others the way she did when I grew up.

I actually planned to be a history teacher because I loved the social sciences. I was going to teach psychology, sociology, and U.S. History. I had it all planned out. However, after an amazing biology professor at Auburn, I decided to change my major to Secondary General Science. I couldn’t be more thankful for that special professor. I love the science classroom. I love being able to teach with a hands on approach and have students actively engaged in activities and labs during the learning process. On any given day in my classroom, students are making predictions, problem solving, analyzing environmental issues, or debating different resolutions and ways to handle those issues. It is fun, it is relevant, and it is bringing the real world directly into the classroom.

What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

My favorite part of being a teacher is watching my students achieve their goals in the future. I love when they come back to visit and tell me all about their college experience, or what is going on in their career. I love seeing them become adults, start families, and literally achieve those dreams we would talk about before they graduated.

Another reason environmental science has become my favorite course, I have multiple students who decide to go into something in the environmental field after graduation. With Environmental, I also love how they learn about the significance of sustainability and make changes in their daily lives to be more resourceful.

Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”

Being able to be there for the students. Honestly, sometimes it’s heartbreaking at some of the things going on in our students’ lives. Being a teacher is more than covering the standards or prepping for a test score. I want my students to feel safe in my classroom, feel like they are supported, know they have someone who truly cares and will listen/help in any way I can. One day I went to visit a student in the hospital after an injury, I got there and the student was alone. I’ll never forget the excitement and smile when they saw me walk in the room. Those kinds of moments are my why for teaching. If you ask most teachers, I bet they have a box where they keep letters and notes from students thanking them for even the tiniest impact they had in the student’s life.

What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?

Our students are more than just students, we care about them more than you know. There are days I worry more about my classroom kiddos than my own children. We love them, we are here for them, we want them to succeed.

If you had one wish for something special for your classroom, what would it be?

A VBH100 ViewBoard Huddle Video Switch! I was recently selected as a winner for a technology grant in Jefcoed for a 75” ViewSonic board. It is amazing! Next, my hope is to get the Huddle video switch in order to allow different groups to share their data/results from lab activities from their personal devices on the ViewSonic during our analysis discussions, easily being able to switch back and forth to compare data and draw conclusions.