In Kathryn Daniels’ AP European and U.S. History classes at Mississippi’s Petal High School (PHS), writing is an integral part of learning about history. Daniels, who previously taught English, incorporates primary and secondary sources into lessons to build students’ engagement with historical content. Surrounded by maps and political cartoons, students become historians through reading and writing, building their argumentation, critical thinking, speaking and listening skills and increasing their ability to understand opposing points of view. Daniels collaborates with the school’s English teachers to align reading and writing across the curriculum and invites community leaders, including Petal’s mayor, into her class. Daniels raises expectations far beyond the typical high school history classroom. Her students quickly learn that she considers hard work and dedication the most important qualities for lifelong success. Under Daniels’ leadership, AP history students at PHS have excelled on both AP and state exams.
The co-leader of the PHS history department, Daniels runs daily professional learning community meetings that include book studies, building curriculum, data collection and sharing best practices. She understands the importance of teacher leadership and empowers everyone on her team to contribute. Daniels mentors new teachers, opens her classroom to colleagues for observation and sits on the school leadership team. She has worked with the South Mississippi Writing Project for years, helping secure grants to improve writing achievement in the state’s rural and underperforming schools, and leading professional development. Daniels is a member of the Mississippi Teacher Council, has presented at state bootcamps and guest lectured at the University of Southern Mississippi.
A PHS graduate and former valedictorian from a family of educators, Daniels teaches the whole student and keeps an eye out for both academic and personal challenges. She tutors students for college exams like the ACT and encourages them to get involved in the community. Daniels seeks out resources for struggling students, including essay contests and scholarships. She works with Distinguished Young Women, a national scholarship program that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent. Daniels’ overarching goal: teach her charges to overcome obstacles, persist in the face of challenges and make the most of the resources available to them.
Daniels earned a bachelor’s in history in 2011 and a master’s in education in 2013 from Mississippi College.
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