2017 Innovative Educator Award
With Father’s Day this past weekend I was thinking about what I wanted to write about my amazing husband and even more amazing father to our boys.
Last Tuesday, Dan received the Michel J. Farrell Chair in Honor of Thomas N. Southard’s Innovative Educator Award by Shady Side Academy and my excitement and pride for him were the exact words I was looking for to describe the incredible man he is.
For those that have the privilege of knowing Dan, or Mr. Stern, you know how infectious his personality is. He exudes what it means to be a positive role model. The children that he has taught, since beginning his teaching career eleven years ago at Shady Side Academy, have embraced our family because of the support, encouragement, and positivity that Dan has given each school year, each summer at camp, each year that he’s moved dormers back into the dorms, each day he’s stepped foot into school, or out the door onto campus.
This year has been especially hard, having to return to the classroom after our son Toby died, but he did it. Each day and week was not as easy or tolerable as other years, but he persisted, with grace and professionalism because of the gift he has, because of his dedication to his students. He has more patience than many and his ability to turn a situation at a breaking point into the most amazing learning experience is something that I admire most about this man.
I have had the pleasure of spending moments in his classroom each year and the energy and joyful passion that each third grade class has held, continues to grow, year by year.
Moving Up Day is always a special one in our house because after the day is done I get to hear about who he saw – what parents stopped in, what students came to say “goodbye” and what lifers came back and spent time laughing and reminiscing in his classroom. Whether we are attending an SSA function on one of the campuses or enjoying the city of Pittsburgh, we are continually stopped by parents, grandparents, boarders, faculty, camp counselors and students who always greet Dan with a hug, and handshake and a smile. “Hi, Mr. Stern!” I can see it in their faces, they are truly grateful for the positive impact my husband has had on their lives. He smiles, laughs, and can remember every single one of their names. Every single one. That is a gift.
He is a modest man, he will not make a big fuss about this award. So I will. He deserves the fuss. He deserves the acknowledgement. He deserves the “Congratulations.”
Shady Side Academy – to the administration, faculty, staff, dorm community – our friends who have become family – to the families that have supported Dan, the legacy families of SSA whose children have all gone through Mr. Stern’s Third Grade Classroom – Thank You! Thank You for acknowledging this amazing teacher’s talents and for encouraging him to continue with his passion and cheering him on along the way.
Dan, the roles and projects that you have taken on, even started at the Academy, since you began teaching in 2007 are woven into every chapter of our life. I have watched you, year by year, continue to succeed, learn, grow and open the door for others – students and faculty – that you have been a role model for.
You are the best example of a husband and father and Lucas and Toby are so very lucky to have you as their dad. I am blessed to stand by your side as you continue to “knock it out of the park” and show me how to take chances, go for it, and even if it’s not the right fit – have fun while you’re doing it! Luke will have a million high-fives for you and our precious Toby is looking down from Heaven, smiling, saying “Hey, that’s my Dad! He’s the best!”
When receiving the award, these words were used to describe Dan, “to be an innovative teacher means to be a motivating teacher.” That could not be more spot on.
Congratulations on the recognition of your excellence, dedication and service to the students of Shady Side Academy and other Pittsburgh families with whom you have crossed paths over the last eleven years!
Cheers to the next decade of teaching!