California Educator

February / March 2019

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its fifth year and the larg- est award of its kind. e top 50 were selected from more than 10,000 inspir- ing educators from 179 countries. The 10 final- i sts w i l l b e announc ed in mid-February and will travel to Dubai for the award ceremony on March 24. "My mom always told me I was one in a million," McDaniel says. "Now, I can tell her I'm one in 100 million!" McDaniel was inspired to teach by the problems he had to deal with in his own childhood, and the positive support and encouragement he received from educators. Born to teenage parents in a home where gun violence was a recur- ring theme, he experienced a string of tragic events that led to a period of homelessness and depression. But it began to turn around when McDan- iel discovered the joy of music and teachers who supported a n d i n spi re d h i m . Now h e does the same for hundreds of students every year in the same low desert community where he was raised. " I c re a t e a s p a c e w h e re every child can be successful," McDaniel says. "I 'm doing this so the kids in my community can shoot for the stars!" A t P a i n t e d H i l l s Mi d d l e S c h o o l , M c D a n i e l f o u n d e d T h e R e g i m e n t — a s t u d e n t - l e d m u s i c a l organization that helps students overcome life's d i f f i c u l t i e s t h r o u g h m u s i c . Mc D a n i e l h a s built this group from the ground up to now more than 250 students who might otherwise not have exposure to playing music. Drawing from his own childhood experience when he couldn't afford an instrument, McDaniel will not allow lack of money be an obstacle for any student who wants to join his band. "In my program, nobody pays for any- thing," says McDaniel , who has about 3 5 0 i n s t r u m e n t s o n h a n d t h a t h e's obtained in a variety of ways. "I never take no for an answer. I always find a way. I'll go to jazz musicians and ask for their old instruments." e Regiment is nothing short of mag- ical. McDaniel sees music as the key to helping students express their humanity and take chances in a supportive and respectful environment. The program has received more than 200 honors and award s, and acclaim from educators and conductors nationwide, who praise the musicianship and professionalism of McDaniel's students. "As teachers, we have the power to create success through opportunities. Never should a child leave our classroom feeling less than they arrived," McDaniel says. "Every day, we need to find new ways for every student to feel the joy of success, as it only takes one great experience to change the trajectory of a child's life." " In my program, nobody pays for anything. I never take no for an answer. I always find a way." Learn more about McDaniel's work at For information on the Varkey Foundation, go to L I F E H A S B E E N unpredictable lately for band and choir teacher Brian McDaniel. The Palm Springs Teachers Association member's dedication and commitment to providing opportunity to his students through music led to his being honored as a 2018 California Teacher of the Year. Recently, h e was nam ed to th e li st of 50 int ernational finalists for the Varkey Foun- dation's Global Teacher Prize and a $1 million award. "Honestly, I was just happy to be Teacher of the Year at my school," McDaniel says. The Global Teacher Prize recognizes one exceptional educator who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, and shines a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society as well. McDaniel is one of four teachers from the United States to be shortlisted for the grand prize, now in Brian McDaniel named a finalist for $1 million Global Teacher Prize By Julian Peeples Million One in 100 McDaniel conducts Desert Hot Springs High School students at the International Festival of Gold 2015 in Los Angeles. 24 Spotlight M E M B E R S P O T L I G H T Brian McDaniel

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