Teacher of the Year: Danielle Trotta

6th through 8th-grade science teacher at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Kensington, Md.

Nominated by Kathleen Neary:

“As a science teacher, Ms. Trotta keeps students engaged through hands-on assignments and brings an element of fun to the school day. But, she goes beyond that role to have an impact on so many other aspects of our community.”

“For the arts festival at our school — two days of full immersion in the arts — she comes up with creative and engaging projects for the students, such as mandala painting on rocks, painting an aurora scene on canvas, making glitter glass jars with an LED inside and teaching hand lettering. As the leader of the astronomy club, she arranged for students to launch model rockets at the Goddard Space Center.”

“This year, Ms. Trotta also began an academic competitions team. She had all of her students take a test for the National Science Bee and several of them qualified for the regional event. Ms. Trotta met students at the event (on a Saturday) and supported them as they competed.”

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Q&A with Danielle Trotta


What originally got you interested in teaching?
When I was in middle school, my teacher always told me that I would be a math and science teacher. I always shrugged it off, but little did I know that Mrs. Taggarse would be right! While in college, I changed my major several times. I was planning on doing everything from volcanology to medicine. In the end, I decided to teach. It’s not the path I thought I would take, but I am so glad I did because I could not imagine doing anything else.

Why do you think teachers are important?
I believe it is in our human nature to be explorers. We have a natural desire to want to see how the world works, but sometimes we need someone or something to spark that interest. Teachers are important because they can ignite that spark and love of learning. It is my hope to be able to spark some sort of interest in my students that will lead them on a path to their future. Aside from that, teachers don’t just teach their students academics, we help students to become contributing members of society. We teach patience, tolerance, respect, perseverance and, above all, kindness. Our jobs are important because we have the future of the world in our classrooms.

What is the single best piece of advice you can give parents?
Let your children go! Middle school is a time where students aren’t just figuring themselves out, but they are figuring out what academic strategies work best for them! Parents definitely should monitor their children and help them when necessary, but they should let them try to figure out what studying, organizational and other academic strategies work for them. Students need to see that they can do it on their own!

What’s your funniest teaching moment?
It is so hard to pick just one moment, but one of my favorites was during my first year of teaching. My 6th-grade class was finally all quietly working on what I had asked them to do. I looked up at them and noticed that one student had drawn a mustache on the side of his finger and was holding it up to his nose as if he had a mustache. I had to take a deep breath because I was about to burst out laughing, but not wanting to get the class off track, I simply said, “take it off.” Well, little did I know, that he had made a paper razor (he even wrote Gillette on it) and proceeded to pretend shaving his mustache off. I completely lost it…and lost the rest of that class period for the day!

How can parents and teachers work together to empower and engage children?
Parents and teachers are a team that share a common goal! We should always work together to help students achieve their goals. Trust and communication are critical in order to maximize
student success.

If I weren’t teaching, I’d be …
If I weren’t teaching, I would be out of a job! Honestly, I have no idea, I can’t picture myself doing anything else!


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