Certiport Teacher Appreciation Week: Richard Daenell

Welcome to our second highlight for Teacher Appreciation week. We’re so excited to be highlighting a middle school warrior, Richard Daenell, from Electa Lee Middle School. His nominator had some great things to say about him. “Richard puts so much energy and excitement into everything he does in the classroom, especially when it comes to MOS certifications and his FBLA program.”

Read more about Richard below:

Certiport: Richard, we are so excited that you were nominated. Middle school teachers don’t get enough credit for all they do.
Richard: I agree! Teaching middle school can be tough, but so rewarding. Teacher Appreciation week is such a great chance to recognize that hard work.

Certiport: Tell us what grades and classes you teach.
Richard: I teach sixth through eighth grade, Computer Applications in Business, Digital Information Tools (focusing on the Microsoft Suite) and Yearbook.

Certiport: Very focused on technology skills. Did you always want to be a CTE teacher?Richard: Well, I started in the restaurant business when I was fourteen. Over the next few years I moved into management and a corporate training role which allowed to me travel and teach people how to be successful in multiple aspects of the restaurant world. I loved teaching and training and thought the only way I could have a bigger impact is to start with a younger age group.

While I was in school, I had a few teachers that went out of their way to make sure I succeeded and pushed me beyond every limit I set for myself. In moving to a teaching career, I was able to pay that forward and be that rock that so many kids need and don’t ever have growing up. I am so happy that I can be that teacher that pulls kids out of the dark. I always make sure the kids that come through my classroom never leave needing help.

Certiport: So well said. Teaching has such a long-term impact! What do you love most about teaching?
Richard: I love every part of it! From meeting new people and students to creating new and exciting ways to learn and teach. I love the challenges of meeting both personal and professional goals and watching my kids do the same. Most importantly, though, I love getting to know and grow with my kids.

Certiport: I love that, growing with your kids. Do you think that certifications are a big part of the growth you see in your students?
Richard: Industry certifications on a middle school level are huge accomplishments and confidence builders. Certifications lay an amazing foundation for my students to build upon as they journey through high school and beyond. They give my students a definite advantage in their other classes and allow them more opportunities to grow and help others along the way.

Certiport: I love how passionate you are about teaching these kids. Do you have a favorite memory from this last school year?
Richard: My favorite teaching memory from last year was stapling the last certification on my Wall of Fame in my classroom. Jennifer Stubblefield gave me this idea and it changed my classroom! The kids worked so hard all year and to see the wall filled and the pride on my students faces was beyond amazing. Over 140 industry certifications filled the Wall of Fame and every day my kids would bring their friends in to show off their certificate or take selfies with the certificates in the background. It was amazing!

Certiport: That is amazing! Over 140 certificates in one year! Moments like that must make you feel so great.
Richard: Absolutely! As a teacher, I live for those moments.

Certiport: Anything else that helps you feel appreciated as an educator?
Richard: I teach at a Title 1 school where 100% of my kids qualify for free/reduced meals and live at or below the poverty line. My kids are used to being told “no” or “you can’t” or “that is impossible”. They see their parents struggle day in and day out and have been taught that their current socioeconomic status is the best they can expect from life. I work relentlessly to break this mindset and teach my kids that they control their destiny! So, when my students dominate their FBLA competitions, are recognized by the School District of Manatee County and the Florida FBLA for outstanding work in their community, earn that industry certification they fought so hard for, get invited to visit universities like Johns Hopkins, Florida State and UCLA and they come back to give me the biggest and best hug or shoot me a smug ‘you were right’ smile from the stage… That is what makes me feel appreciated.

Certiport: Wow. I’m almost speechless thinking of the impact you’ve had on all your students. Any advice you would give other CTE teachers, to help them see the same success?Richard: Your students won’t care until they know you care! When you truly get to know the kids sitting in your room, get to know what makes them tick, get to know what their home life looks like, learn to read them and understand them… you’ll have no problem getting them to buy into your program and rise to your expectations. You must put in the work first before you can expect them to work for you. Much like in the business world, employees will only work as hard as the boss does! If you see a successful business, you’ll see a leader (not a boss) that is working harder than his/her employees and it is the same within a classroom.

Keep coming back this week for more amazing teacher highlights. You can also learn more from teachers just like Richard at this year’s (online) CERTIFIED Educator Conference. Get all the details here.