My name is Dr. Stephen Danna, and I am the SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury Branch Campus Dean where I teach education classes and support our fine programs, staff, and students.
We all have life shifting moments in our lives, and mine occurred while guest speaking at a small middle school in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 25 years ago. I began the session full of confidence and swagger, but quickly succumbed to the challenges of a rambunctious, bored group of 200 middle school children. Long story short, I recovered and spoke from the heart. Rather than lecture, I connected. The table had been set. My passions for science and the greater realization of a deep, unabiding desire to make a difference in the world led to a dramatic career shift. I left a successful, five-year budding career as an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office to teach public school science. Since that fortuitous day in Bay St. Louis Middle School, I’ve served as an educator and school administrator seeking to change the system and help ensure all students are provided a rigorous and relevant program.
Children come to school with varying levels of experience and ability, and it is up to teachers and administrators to prepare each child for lifelong, self-directed success and learning. National trends and international test comparisons suggest we can and must do more to prepare students for success, and I believe through smart school reform and accountability systems we can make significant progress in improving student achievement. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.