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Faculty Friday Spotlight: Paulette Danni
Posted on: October 25, 2019
Check back here next month for our next Faculty Friday spotlight!
Paulette Danni, Pre-K Teacher
What is your role at PBDA and how long have you worked here? A winding road of experiences and adventures led me to my current role as Pre-Primary teacher at Palm Beach Day. I attended Niagara County Community College and Palm Beach State College. Through the years, my jobs have included dental assistant, motherhood, real estate sales, retail manager, professional clown and finally, sales and marketing for the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.
What initially attracted you to the education field? In 1979, I enrolled my daughter in a 2-year-old program at the Jewish Center in Amherst, New York in hopes of giving my daughter the opportunity to achieve personal growth by socializing with children her age. At the time, I was 8 months pregnant in addition to my daughter’s growth, I needed to grow as a young mother as well! Ultimately, all three of my daughters experienced early childhood education, a decision I would never change. That learning experience held a special place in my heart, preparing me for the educational path that was yet to be mine.
What were you doing prior to teaching at PBDA, and what initially drew you to the school? Although my roots were firmly planted in and around Niagara Falls, when I was told the joyous news that I would soon become a grandmother, my husband Jim and I relocated to Florida without hesitation. We sold our family home, packed up our life, and drove to Palm Beach Gardens with our two Maltese Poodles.
At the time of our move, my oldest daughter Shana was a kindergarten teacher at PBDA. Her teaching partner and very dear friend Dorothea Cvelbar (now Associate Director of Admission) had just given birth in December and was looking for a nanny. Long story short, I ultimately embraced her infant girl and once again, a new career.
What has been your favorite aspect of working with our youngest Bulldogs? We refer to our youngest students as the Bulldog Pups, a name my first grandson Nikolai suggested many years ago. Each day, they arrive ready to challenge their day and to share their endless love and laughter (and tears!).
Each year, these young students come to us with so many abilities. I sometimes forget I am even speaking with a two-year-old! I believe parenting is more challenging than ever before and that children adapt to changes differently. Even though we have Bulldog Pups who are world travelers, there is one thing they all need and thrive on — consistency.
What is your favorite PBDA tradition and why? PBDA recognizes family first, not only with our students and their families, but with the faculty as well. This is the rich tradition I respect the most. In fact, on the day Nikolai was born, Jupiter Medical was buzzing with laughter and chatter from the many visitors—all fellow faculty members and families from Palm Beach Day. I was amazed at the outpouring of enthusiasm and bond of friendships.
In your opinion, why is early childhood education so important? Social and emotional growth is the foundation for future success in our program. However, before that even begins to evolve, our children need to feel safe and welcome each day. As their bond of trust deepens, optimal learning occurs. From the moment the children arrive each morning and say “goodbye” to their parents, our teaching begins. Every word we speak and every movement we make will model the behavior that will inspire the children to do the same.
Our environment is filled with learning opportunities. Math, science, engineering, and literacy are disguised as play and happen every minute of each school day. Social and emotional growth is a huge challenge for young two-year-olds. Again, modeling the behavior that will guide children to use their voices and bodies to express how they are feeling is the key to our teaching process. The children become independent, confident, and learn to develop their verbal communication and self-control. A strong foundation will allow each student to grow with confidence, and success will follow.
Tell us a fun fact about you! One of my students was shocked to hear that I am a clown! My mother was a professional clown, Jellybean. When I stepped into her clown shoes, I changed my name to Jell E. Bean. I established Rainbow Clowns with my clown partner, Starbrite
Where is your favorite travel destination and why? My husband Jim and I love to cruise. We’ve especially loved our trips to Spain, France, and Italy. We traveled to Alaska this past summer which was incredible. I was even fortunate enough to travel with my daughter Deena to Turkey with my teaching partner for many years, Ms. Ilkay! She invited us to stay with her family in Bodrum where we were treated like royalty. We got to enjoy the exquisite sights and delicious food, and were welcomed with open arms into her Turkish home as part of the family.
What are your hobbies and interests? I enjoy spending time at my home with my husband – we both love to garden and remodel. I love spoiling others and find great joy in surprising my grandchildren with cookies, pies, or a good pot of soup.
What is your greatest pleasure? My three daughters, Shana, Joelle and Deena, and my eight grandchildren. Two of my daughters work on the Upper Campus at PBDA, and all three are PBDA parents. My daughter Shana is PBDA’s Director of Learning Support and a Learning Specialist, Deena is PBDA’s School Counselor, and Joelle is a Fertility Specialist with a practice in Jupiter. Seven out of my eight grandchildren attend our school and number eight will join us when he’s old enough to be a Bulldog Pup!