Dr. McDaniels interview

Genevieve Cyrus '22

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Dr. McDaniels is the new Associate Director, as well as a new Chemistry teacher. 


Genevieve: So to begin, where are you originally from?


Dr. McDaniels: Okay, well, I am partially from Wilmington, Delaware, and partially from Humble, Texas, and I say that because my father's job took him between those two areas. So I spent half my life growing up in each of those places. 


G: Next, where did you attend college?


Dr. McDaniels: I went to Hampton University, which is a historically black college and university in Hampton, Virginia.


G: And what was your major?


Dr. McDaniels: My major was chemistry. 


G: How did you end up in the DC area?


Dr. McDaniels: My husband is an active duty military officer. And he is stationed here, which means he's assigned to work here. I was originally in North Carolina with my own kids, and my husband had moved up to this area, and he'd been up here several years without us, so we were living apart as a family. When my oldest daughter graduated from high school, I asked my son, who was going to enter high school, what he'd like to do. And he said, you know what, I'm ready for a new adventure. Let's go live with dad. And so that's how we got up to this area.


G: So I know you're both the Associate Director and a chemistry teacher, why did you decide to teach your subject and choose the position of Associate Director?


Dr. McDaniels: To teach my subject, I love chemistry, and I love being with students, and so teaching for me is almost a non-negotiable. I want to be in the classroom with the kids, living that experience with them. So if I can teach, I'm always going to teach, I always want to teach, that's important to me. As far as the associate director position, I am very excited about adding value to a community, and the experiences that I've been fortunate enough to have over my lifetime and growth in the educational field, I felt like I could add even more value to a wider body of students. So not just students that take chemistry, but even students that do not take chemistry and are in other subjects, as well as get to work with a great group of faculty members. And not just in the science department, but the entire school.


G: And for chemistry, what are you most excited to teach?


Dr. McDaniels: Oh, what do I love most about chemistry? I think I love the periodic table. And having students understand that 118 different elements make up everything that we deal with in life and how they interact with one another.


G: And what got you interested in this subject?


Dr. McDaniels: Oh, that's a long story, Genevieve, what got me interested. I was always good at math and science growing up. And so my father said, okay, well go ahead and go to med school. So I said, okay, no problem. Well, when I got to undergrad, I did research as well as preparing to go to med school, and I really liked research. I liked being in a lab, I could sit with myself quietly for 23 hours in a pipette and love it. I applied to medical school, and it just wasn't my thing. I decided I would rather do research. And so I decided, okay, let me give research a try. And it's just, it is exciting for me to tackle unknown problems, and use my areas of expertise. And it makes me excited because while I may answer one small question, it leads to 20 more questions. And so there's never an end point for me.


G: And what do you think your favorite unit is? 


Dr. McDaniels: I think the periodic table, you could always add stoichiometry to that. I like combining science and math.


G: And in general, what are you looking forward to the most at SSSAS?


Dr. McDaniels: Oh, I'm looking forward to the relationships and the community piece, and being engaged with everyone so that we can continue to grow this wonderful school that we have. 


G: What was your last job? 


Dr. McDaniels: My last job was the science department chair at Bullis.


G:What do you like to do in your free time?


Oh, in my free time, I like to walk my dog Moose. I like to be outside. I like to read science fiction novels and I'm learning how to do needlepoint.


G: Nice. And lastly, why did you decide to come to SSSAS?


Dr. McDaniels: Oh, it was easy. Generally, it was so easy to want to come here. The openness, the ability to be who I am, people willing to accept me and listen to what I have to say and the love that was shown it just was easy to make that choice and I would not have thought otherwise.