Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Dana Soule has always enjoyed interacting with kids – even when she was younger she loved to babysit and just liked that “population.”
The Delaware native decided she wanted to go to college to study sociology. She received her sociology degree with a concentration in social welfare at the University of Delaware.
Soule would go on to work in Delaware’s child protective services.
“I went to a lot of schools and had to interview a lot of children,” she said, “and saw a lot of the troubled side to them, and a part of me just wished, when I would leave, that I could do more for children.”
Soule figured – what better way to interact, encourage, teach, embrace and help children than by becoming a teacher?
Soule, 41, now teaches fourth-grade gifted and talented (GATE) at Oakbrook Elementary, where she is in her seventh year teaching in the district. She has taught 11 years total, previously working in Delaware and Oklahoma.
“I just get excited,” she said. “I love kids. I act silly and I love to laugh, and kids just make you young and keep you energetic.”
At Oakbrook, Soule is also part of PBIS – Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. She is on the district-wide science committee and serves as the contact person for fourth-grade GATE-math for the district.
Soule has her master’s in elementary education through Wilmington University in Delaware.
Soule said her most challenging experience teaching was probably when she was teaching in Oklahoma and had a third grade student who had a “very rough” school career.
“She came to school hating school,” Soule said. “When you read the records prior, it just wasn’t inviting. I’m used to kids coming and they’re excited, or as soon as they see you they warm up to you, and she was just very distant for a while.”
Because this student had trust and abandonment issues, Soule had to work hard to earn her trust, but when it finally happened, Soule’s most challenging experience became her most positive one.
“She learned to trust me and just became one of those students who stole my heart,” Soule said.
Soule said her best teaching experience was being able to teach her own children when they went through GATE at Oakbrook Elementary. Soule said she has a great bond with her two daughters – Ashlyn, now an eighth-grader, and Karlee, a sixth-grader. Both are at Rollings Middle School of the Arts. Ashlyn’s concentration is dance and Karlee plays the violin.
When Soule taught her daughters, she was the only GATE teacher at Oakbrook Elementary.
“I was able to see both of my children in a different way, other than being a mom,” she said. “I was their teacher and they saw me as that, and it made me a better teacher because there were things I wanted them to learn and do. They drove me to be a better teacher. It was really such a unique experience. You just watch your kids in a different light.”
Soule has been married to her husband Jason for 17 years. As a family they love to go out on their boat, go to the beach and be outside. Soule also likes to work out and travel.
Soule added her family loves amusement parks and she is a big “roller coaster buff.” This summer the family went to King’s Dominion, an amusement park in Virginia.
The family has three pets including a 7-year-old black lab named Domino, a 4-month-old French bulldog named Zeke and a 12-year-old gray calico cat named Marble.
Soule said her professional goal is to perhaps teach on a collegiate level, and she also sees herself in administration one day.
“Not right now, because I still really love being in the classroom and being with the students,” she said.
Soule said her life goal is “to just be the best me that I can be,” including the best mom, wife, friend and teacher.
“Just to live life to its fullest, really,” she said. “I like to have fun and explore new things.”