When you watch Julie Dansby teach mathematics it's easy to see that she's passionate about her work. When you watch her interact with her students at Mann Middle School it's clear that she's an engaging and challenging educator. These are just some of the reasons why she was selected as the Lakewood Rotary Educator of the month for November. Dansby was nominated for the award by Principal Ron Banner.
"Julie's efforts to support the learning of her students are rooted in her desire for each student to be at above grade level as they move on to the next phase of their education," wrote Banner. "Julie is an extremely knowledgeable math teacher who takes the time to ensure that her students get a quality lesson each and every day. She is always a professional who communicates with parents regularly. She is a true advocate for students and student learning."
Dansby didn't grow up wanting to be a teacher. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX, before serving in the Army. From there she earned a master's degree in education from the Evergreen State College before working in the correctional education system through Pierce College and Tacoma Community College. Overall, she's been teaching for 17 years and started at Mann in 2001.
"I chose middle school on purpose," said Dansby. "In my experience, we lose students when they hit the 12- to 15-year-old age range. This is a critical time to keep kids on track. They need someone who believes in them—that's my job."
Even when she's not at work, Dansby is constantly looking for ways to engage her students.
"Project-based activities help students understand their work by breaking it down and making it fun and relevant," said Dansby. "When my students ‘get it' and feel good about what they've learned, I've had a successful day."
In addition to teaching, Dansby leads several professional development classes at Mann, districtwide and as a T3 Instructor with Texas Instruments. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), her classroom is equipped with state-of-the-art technology like SMART Boards, laptops and TI-Nspire Handhelds. (The district received three grants from DoDEA to expand extended day programs for students and to boost student achievement in science and mathematics by utilizing technology and engineering.)
"I feel like it's equally important to teach my colleagues so they can enhance the learning of their students. Plus, teaching other educators reinforces my skills as a learner and makes me a better teacher," said Dansby.
When she's not a work Dansby enjoys spending time with her family. They like to kayak and camp and be outdoors. She's a mother of two and both her kids will graduate from college next year.
She was honored by the Lakewood Rotary at its Nov. 2 meeting.
- Clover Park School District