May 7, 2012
It was likely inevitable that Daniel Gallagher would one day find himself in front of a classroom. His whole life has been about “adding value to everything you do.” Providing that sort of mentorship and work ethic to young students seems a perfect outlet for someone who has always sought answers to “what I didn’t know.”
“Growing up, I never thought I had a clear direction. I immersed myself in the things that I personally loved to do, everything artistic — drawing, the fine arts, writing — and would take them however far I thought I could go with them,” said Gallagher, 30, from Yardley, who will graduate with degrees in Early Childhood-Elementary Education and Special Education. “I continued to find things that interested me — I started to write, then I started to play music, then I started to write and record songs. It took me a while to find my focus, but ultimately teaching made sense to me as I was always seeking knowledge myself.”
Gallagher said his approach to teaching has been the same as his approach to life.
“How can I add value to what I am doing? A great deal of teaching is reflecting on what you’ve done and what you can do to make it better,” he said.
Gallagher said he chose elementary education “because it is such an important age.”
“It sets a precedent for what type of student they will become and may even spark an interest in where life will ultimately take them. As a teacher, you are providing an important role model outside of the home,” he said. “Everyone has their own way of learning. As educators we have to find the best way to reach each student.”
That “basic human connection” is an essential part of the field of education, said Gallagher, who came to Temple with an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Bucks County Community College.
“I know I’m going to learn a lot as I go — I think teachers learn as much from their students as they learn from us,” he said. “I know I will have to work very hard to establish goals to take my students from Point A to Point B. If I’m able to successfully do that, then I’ll feel like I’m doing my job.”
Prior to coming to Temple, Gallagher took a five-year hiatus from the classroom to save up enough for a return to school while also “taking time to figure out what I wanted to do.”
“Temple was a clear choice early on. My father went to Temple and seeing his admiration for and involvement in the school helped me to make the transition back to school. When I was young, my father and I were totally different people, but as I get older I think I’m becoming more like him, which is something I couldn't be happier about — we went to the same high school and now I’m graduating from the same college.”
In the classroom, his professors have become great mentors, Gallagher said, “providing any type of guidance and support you could need — it’s all a building process.”
Outside of the classroom, Gallagher has excelled at creating connections to his profession while continuing to live by adding value to each venture he has entered. At Temple University Ambler, he joined The Parable literary journal and the Society of Emerging Educators (SEE), taking on the mantle of president of the latter during the 2011-2012 school year. In the past year, SEE hosted a children’s Dance-A-Thon at the Blue Bell School of Dance to support the Kisses for Kyle Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families with children battling cancer — the event raised $2,450. In April, SEE spearheaded a book drive for the Samuel Pennypacker Elementary School in Philadelphia; the school was presented with more than 1,400 books for its library. SEE was honored for their efforts with the 2012 Community Service Award at Temple University Ambler’s recently held Student Leadership Awards Banquet.
Gallagher was also honored with top recognition at the awards banquet as Temple University Ambler’s 2012 Student Leader of the Year. He was additionally recognized with a Campus Leadership Award and a Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Award. Gallagher is also the 2012 recipient of the Susan R. Leventhal Memorial Award, given to a student who demonstrates “their joy of communicating and working with elementary level students as evidenced in student-teaching and in other related activities” — he’ll be presented with the honor at the College of Education Commencement Awards, which will be presented on May 9.
And while May 10 is looming large on his calendar as the day he will have his Education degree in hand, he also has another date taking up a large amount of real estate in his mind — August 18, when he gets married to his fiancé Rachael, who, he said, “has been such a tremendous support through everything.”
“I’ve had an unbelievable experience at Temple. Everything that I’ve tried to do here does, in turn, relate to the education profession — it’s all about working with kids and helping to improve lives,” he said. “My regular classes and extracurricular activities have allowed me to showcase and build upon my networking and leadership skills. I’ve had the freedom to come up with ideas and set goals and the resources to achieve them.”