MNPS Voices: Danae Gaiter

MNPS Voices: Danae Gaiter, Advocacy Center Coach, Tulip Grove Elementary School
Posted on 09/15/2022
Danae Gaiter in her classroom

Getting to know students so she can help them overcome challenges and focus on their schoolwork drives Danae Gaiter, a second-year Advocacy Center coach at Tulip Grove Elementary SchoolDanae Gaiter in her classroom

Gaiter’s daily role is to help regulate students’ social and emotional behaviors so they can make it through their day. This includes supporting students in pre-K through fifth grade who are experiencing anxiety, anger, frustrations, grief and loss.

Gaiter, who is in her fourth year in the district, sought the opportunity to transition from a paraprofessional and teaching role to an advocacy coach because it gave her the opportunity to connect with more students in the school instead of being assigned to a select few the entire year. She is passionate about her SEL role because it allows her to authentically connect with her students in a way that she couldn’t as a teacher.

“The advocacy coach role allows me to focus on building relationships with the students - getting to really know them and their story in a more deep and meaningful way,” she said. “Their gratitude is shown with a lot of love and hugs.”

One of Gaiter’s goals for the year is to collaborate more with teachers to identify students who need SEL support prior to an incident and becoming dysregulated.

“I want to be intentional about pulling those kids to the Advocacy Center to get a head start on helping kids with their anger and anxiety,” Gaiter said.

This year she has added to her responsibilities by extending her social and emotional coaching services to the teachers at Tulip Grove. These intentional connections are impactful, and teachers at the Hermitage school are appreciative.

“During the second week of teacher check-ins, I received a thank you note on my door from one of the fifth-grade teachers expressing their appreciation,” Gaiter said. “It was reassuring to know that the connection had been beneficial.”

For Gaiter, the job of regulating human emotions can be challenging, especially when the emotional growth she’s seeking is not improving as quickly as she would like. But the hardest part of her day is actually getting her data accurately recorded.

Gaiter earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. Her mom was a teacher and played a part in her choosing a career in education.

Her favorite teaching experience was her year abroad in South Korea teaching English and Bible classes.

Gaiter has several hobbies she enjoys during her downtime and for self-care, including singing, reading and hiking. Outdoor experiences have become her dedicated “go-to.” She is the volunteer leader for the Nashville network of Outdoor Afro, a national nonprofit organization that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.

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