LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Brian McDaniel

Position: Director of Bands, Choirs and Orchestra
School: Painted Hills Middle School
School District: Palm Springs Unified (PSUSD)
City, State: Desert Hot Springs, CA

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Brian McDaniel was nominated by his friend Ray Kelley and his high school guidance counselor, Helayne Van Houten.

Dr. McDaniel is the band, chorus and orchestra teacher at Painted Hills Middle School. He was recently named California's Teacher of the Year for 2018. Dr. McDaniel first heard “The Palm Strings” cassette at age 6 in 1988. Kelley gave a copy to his mother who worked at a market in Palm Springs. He was inspired by the instrumental music, saw colors and heard various rhythms. While pursuing a music teaching career, he became one of the most respected and prize winning music teachers in California. 

Van Houten was Dr. McDaniel Guidance Counselor at Cathedral City High School from 1998-2001. Dr. McDaniel struggled with a difficult homelife and was always providing for his mother 3 siblings. "Brian did this without compromising his passion and love for school," Van Houten said. "He was relentless and selfless in his pursuit to get into college and make something of his life. After much struggle he achieved a GPA high enough to apply to Long Beach State, the school he only dreamed about."

Once the Band Director met Dr. McDaniel, interviewed him, and heard his story, he was awarded a full ride scholarship to Long Beach State and graduated with top honors in 2005 with a BA in Music. He applied for the Band Directors position at the new Desert Hot Springs High School, where he was awarded the position and went on to obtain his MA in Education Curriculum and Instruction from California State University San Bernardino in 2008.

"When my wife, Cheryl, and I attend his school programs, he always introduced me as his mentor," Kelley said. "I always tell him…you did all of the hard work to get where you are, I’m just happy the music inspired you! He certainly deserves consideration for the award, which he would use to buy more brass and wind instruments for his students."

As his siblings grew up, Dr. McDaniel encouraged them to go one and become productive citizens through the completion of both university and technical school programs. He even encouraged his mother to fulfill her dream of becoming a registered nurse. While taking care of his mother, brothers, wife and kids, Dr. McDaniel has also initiated local, state and national award winning band and choir programs at both Desert Hot Springs High School and Painted Hills Middle School.

When funding was cut for all arts programs, it didn't stop Dr. McDaniel. He solicited help from low-income communities, state funding and his masterful fundraising skills. All funds acquired helped fund needed instruments, and money to pay for competitions and food for many of his students.

"Brian does whatever has to be done to afford his kids the opportunities they would never have had otherwise," Van Houten said. "His drive, determination and selflessness guides his day. His torrid background never defines him, in fact it fuels him to achieve his highest goals. Brian is one of the reasons I was an educator. He will stand out in my mind and never be forgotten."

Comments (47)

Deanna Bretado-Chavez Posted over a year ago

In this world where everything and everyone moves so fast, it refreshing to know people like Brian. Even though he is always teaching, fundraising, collaborating with so many others and creating new partnerships with different organizations, he is always willing to put everyone else first. He is constantly helping his students, his colleagues and dedicated to his family. He is an inspiration to my son and many other music students. It is truly a pleasure knowing Brian.

Andria Perez Posted over a year ago

McDaniel’s band class in middle school has opened up a new world of opportunities, experiences, and learning and has taken me to places I never thought I would have been able to go so early in life. It inspired me to continue my music career in high school; I’ve made wonderful new friendships through music, and recently came back from traveling to Europe with my high school marching band.

Melissa Morris Posted over a year ago

Brian McDaniel is an extraordinary human being who had to beat his own odds to get to where he is today. He has been an amazing and inspiring colleague from across the country helping to shape a newly formed nonprofit Music Teachers for Global Peace. He heard of the new foundation, learned about the mission and jumped in immediately connecting and collaboration with music educators around the world as quickly as he could in an effort to explore the impact global musical collaborations can have on his young musicians. I could write for days about this man and I have only known him a very short period of time. He is a true professional, empathetic, inspiring, impassioned and genuine. He probably never sleeps as he is forever ready to explore new opportunities for his students, my students and students around the world. As a 2019 top 50 Global Teacher Prize finalist, California National Teacher of the Year, humanitarian and all around great man, I don't think you can go wrong choosing Brian McDaniel as this years National Life Changer.

Dillon Baird Posted over a year ago

Dr.Brian McDaniel has to be one of the most impactful educators I've ever had the pleasure of working with. His ability to understand and relate to his students is remarkable and I have personally seen the difference it can make in a student. I personally credit a vast amount of my skills, acolplishments and character I possess today to Dr.McDaniel and his thoughtful approach to education. It warms my heart to see Dr.McDaniel recognized for the years of dedication he's given to us students, he deserves nothing less. Thank you for everything Dr. McDaniel.

Brett McDaniel Posted over a year ago

As being a brother and former student of Dr. Brian McDaniel I have first hand seen change that Brian has done. From being the role model to all of us brothers and our sister to the hundreds of students, he has had he has always been our North Star lighting the way. Brian has always shown people the potential they didn’t even know they had.

Ashleigh Posted over a year ago

Dr. Brian McDaniel is very influential. Coming from a similar background, it shows that with hard work you can achieve your dreams. I am a first generation, currently enrolled in Cal State University of San Bernardino. He is an amazing teacher, friend, and family; he deserves everything he has worked this hard for.

Carol Levinson Posted over a year ago

Once there was a two year old who climbed onto a coffee table to conduct an opera which was on the television. Later when he was five, he watched the news where coverage of a war was going on. He looked up with his big brown eyes and said."Mommy if people would put down the guns and picked up an instrument what an amazing band the world would have." He would grow and go off to college where he experienced great movements in music. He would conduct choirs, symphonies, and bands. He would take that two year child's dreams and the five year old's ambition to become the a 2018 California's Teacher of the Year, a 2019 National Teacher of the Year Nominee, and a 2019 Global Teacher Prize Finalist. He would speak with an radiance, giving hope to all who hears his voice. He is a life changer. Dr. Brian McDaniel always shoots for the stars and is “beyond all expectations”. He makes the world a better place

Edward Vulpe Posted over a year ago

I am a first generation, college graduate of Romanian immigrants. My grandmother fled communism in 1981 and made her way down to our little town of Desert Hot Springs, eventually bringing her six daughters, too. My family started at the bottom. After waiting five years for his visa, my father came to this country and started work as a bus boy at Denny’s. For those same five years, mom cleaned houses, caring for me and my older sister. We had basic needs fulfilled, but it was clear that we had enough for what we needed, and not too much more. This was the same for many of my classmates in town. We were all a bunch of kids hoping to do better than our parents had done, to improve our quality of life and standard of living. While most teachers in my primary and secondary schools were great, few reached out and went as deep to instill continued hope like Dr. McDaniel did. Always light-hearted and relateable, Dr. McDaniel held us accountable to our own self acualization. He was never shy to share his stories when the theme was appropriate, and used the morals to teach us about life. He was always “in tune” with his students, constantly preaching of the power people have to improve themselves and their situations. Beyond music compositon, jazz band, or marching band, Dr. McDaniel created a lasting impression of the power found in a constant effort to achieve excellence; there was nothing else to put forward except your best, and your best was always improving. I took what he taught to heart. Today, I am a college graduate, pursuing my graduate degree and working in student support for a top regional univeristy and Hispanic Serving Institution, encouraging and teaching students to aim for excellence in their development as professionals and leaders of tomorrow. Dr. McDaniel was pivotal to my development as a productive member of society, and to the development of so many others like me. With that being said, he is still one those guys everyone respects but humble enough to crack a joke and invite you to a potluck. I fully support Dr. McDaniel as the LifeChanger of the Year.

Alicia Cervantes Posted over a year ago

I was a former high school student of Dr. McDaniel from the years 2006-2009. The student-teacher relationship grew to a mentor-mentee relationship and friendship. I have been around to have witness some the lowest points of his life and see him overcome the tough years to be the happiest one can be. There have been a few things that have kept him going: His perseverance despite the hardships, his love and dedication for his students in and out of the class room,and his love for his family, children and wife. Brian, despite his busy schedule, always makes sure he is a part of everyone’s life and makes time for everyone and is consistent. He makes sure to get to know everyone and is sincere. From neighbors, students, studens’ families, networking, you name it. He deserves any recognition given because he is a prime example of an influencer. He not only has the ability to change his life around, but spread his positivity and awareness and inspire others to do the same. Who knew that a fresh out of college student, who decided to come back to his home town to teach, can end up achieving so much more for not only himself but for the community in such a short timeframe. Proud of you Brian.

Jayla Mason Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel has shown and taught me a lot in my first year of Painted Hills. As much as I loved my former teachers from my other schools, he specifically changed my look on my life. At times I would feel like giving up on myself. I felt that stress, pressure, and anxiety was getting the better of me yet, he would always find a way to make me smile, laugh, and be happy. When I moved into Wind Symphony, I was nervous, but I knew that Dr. McDaniel would be there to help me. He is a great teacher and I know that he not only cares about his students, but other kids around the world. He is an inspiration and it is a joy to be a student of his. No matter what, I will support Dr. McDaniel in all his accomplishments and I hope to learn more from him.

Raquel Campos Posted over a year ago

Dr.Mcdaniel is a life changer because over the past months , I have had a hard time with life in general and he has definitely been one to go to when I’m down. There has been points in my life where I have just wanted to give up and Dr.Mcdaniel has told me to keep my head up and overcome any obstacle that I thought I could never overcome. He always puts his students first and focuses on our problems. He always has something positive to say to make me smile and make me feel safe. He always has the right words to make me feel better. The care and love he has brought to all of his class , makes us feel special and like we matter. Nobody in our class feels less than anybody , and that is because he inspires us daily to be our best despite how over-worked he is . Not only has he brought many of us joy, but he has taught us to never give up no matter how hard things get . He has made a huge impact on my life and has taught me how to live life beyond all expectations. I feel so fortunate and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to have Dr. Brian McDaniel as a teacher.

Alexis Thomas Posted over a year ago

Dr.McDaniel is a life changer because he is a father figure to people who dont have fathers in their life, and even if they do have fathers, he still is a father figure. Dr.McDaniel still inspires me to do my best in everyway even if he is tired. Because of him i got to see places ive never been. Sacramento to HollyWood. He has taught many to not be afraid of the world and to stand up for themselves.

Cassie Posted over a year ago

Dr.McDaniel changed my life the first day I walked into the choir room. I was going threw a tough time then, with my family’s fanancial stability and many more family problems. Dr.McDaniel’s Chior helped me rise up and made me feel like I was worth a million bucks. It really helped me move through all the problems I was facing. The students in the PHMS Regiment make the school more motivated in doing good things. The Regiment will take all the time in the world to do what they love wether it’s playing an instrument or singing. Dr.McDaniel includes everyone and gives everyone a chance to show their talent. He makes even the people who aren’t in the Regiment, feel like they can be anything. Dr.McDaniel will be there for you even in thick and thin.

Jariah Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is the best teacher in the whole universe I’ve went to nothing from an amazing musician and I’ve gotten stronger. He pushed me to do good in school and work hard on my instrument the reason I come to school is because of Dr McDaniel and of my instrument to work hard and go to college to become an musician. Thank you Dr Mcdaniel.

Ciera Posted over a year ago

It all started about a year ago when I met Dr.McDaniel. When I met him I was at my sisters 15th birthday party, and he came up to me and asked if I was going to join the regiment when I was in middle school. At the time I was in elementary school. We talked some more and I then joined in the 6th grade. That was the BEST decision I’ve ever had to decide. I made sure all of my friends joined to work with the BEST teacher in the world. Everyone agreed and he inspires us everyday to keep thriving to the highest bar possible. Dr.McDaniel has given me the opportunity to go to Hollywood to compete and have to greatest moment of my life. Everyday he is step by step guiding me to the right paths. When I feel small and weak he assures me that I am as big as I feel so I have to feel strong. I am super blessed to be able to see the California teacher of the year everyday and to say that he is my teacher. Dr.McDaniel has really changed mine and my sisters life. In my school Dr.McDaniel’s accomplishments will forever be in our hearts. I’m so happy he keeps thriving for more and never gets tired and never stops until Desert Hot Springs is the greatest city in the world. I can’t wait to see what he is going to accomplish in the future. I love Dr.McDaniel!

Jasmine Posted over a year ago

I have been a student of Dr.McDaniel for 3 years and I see everyday how hard he works for everything he has accomplished. He inspires me to do the my best. If I’m feeling down he is always there for me and I can talk to him about anything. Even though this is my last year of middle school I know McDaniel will always be in my life.

Diana Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is the choir and band director at Painted Hills Middle School that inspires the regiment to reach their goals. Dr. McDaniel is the only teacher I’ve let my life out to. He’s an easy person to talk to, and communicate with because he’s puts himself in your shoes to understand the best he can. He’s made us into better people and students, with his serious and goofy moments. As a young kid he went through something that no kid should go through but that did make him into the amazing and wonderful teacher he is. He puts so much effort into his regiment to make us the best of the best. Last year I was just a little 6th grader until I met Dr. McDaniel, he showed me who I am and where I stand. He always believes in us, and he even gave some of us the opportunity to go on tour and expirence what it’s like to be a champion. His life wraps around music, music changed my life in a way I never thought it would and through music I’ve reached and achieved all my goals but not alone I reached them with Dr. McDaniel and the Regiment.

Samantha Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is an inspiration to me. He has showed me how to play my flute. I would say he is like my second dad. Honestly , I really consider him as my dad. He’s always there for people. I would have to say he is an amazing teacher. He is a funny, smarty, and a talented teacher. He has impacted my life and showed me ways around problems. He communicates with students so easily he is a special teacher to me. He inspired me when he was with my brother and taught my brother. 2 years in his regiment program, and it’s been the best thing that happened to me. I wouldn’t be in the mood and music had helped me. Music is my life it has been for years. Dr. McDaniel is a big part of the regiment. His words inspire me. I’m my perspective he is a inspiration to a lot of students here at Painted Hills Middle School. He created a program that at first had nothing no chairs, instruments, stands etc... He found a way to get all that for the band. It honestly is an opportunity that I get to go to Hollywood 2019 in April for the very first. I think I have learned more and more about music. I honestly think I got better playing the flute and it was a struggle, I didn’t worry because Dr. McDaniel has helped me with the struggle. He really changed my life with music. I abdominal appreciate being in the band program and able to play with the rest of my band. I am very thankful for everything Dr. McDaniel has helped me with. I am proud of Dr.McDaniel for what he has achieved. He works so hard for what he achieves. When Dr. McDaniel got nomited for teacher of the year I was so happy for him I was in complete excitement.

Brayden Posted over a year ago

Dr.McDaniel was my 5th grade music teacher and every Friday I had band. Every Friday I would look forward to band because McDaniel always made me feel special even when I had a bad day McDaniel would always make me feel amazing. He is now my middle school band teacher and I am glad he stayed with me.

Daisy Posted over a year ago

I have known Dr.McDaniel for 2 years. He was my Dad’s friend in high school. He helped my sister go into Jazz Band. He is a HUGE inspiration. He is kind,helpful, and just a really good band teacher. He is a teacher that will help you no mater what is going on. He is my hero who has changed my life.

Eden Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel’s words are never dull, and will leave you on your seat, waiting for more and more inspiration. His words may be small, but they can leave the BIGGEST impact. But it’s not just his words, it’s his actions as well. The things he does for his students, the way he stands out and up is amazing. He’s taught us in two different schools. He went out of his way to be there for the younger students at an elementary school last year with less opportunity, because he saw opportunity in everything and everyone. He now teaches us at PHMS. The experience is wonderful.

Joselyn Serrano Posted over a year ago

This is my first year with Dr. McDaniel and I've learned so much for him, he is inspirational hero and I hope he wins global teacher of the year.

Selena Moreno Posted over a year ago

Mcdaniel has changed my life the day he took me to Sacrament with the whole choir. The experience was really great the day i got out of the bus. Before every performance he would give us the greatest speeches but at the end we knew he wanted us to be “Beyond All Expectations”

Yelena Kim Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is a great and inspiring teacher. I vividly remember how because of Dr. McDaniel, I was able to go to Hollywood for the first time in my life to perform. It was one of the greatest experiences I ever had in my life and I learned how much I really enjoyed performing with the band. Not only has Dr. McDaniel allowed me the opportunity to go on a life-changing trip, he has continued to teach me important lessons to help me grow as a musician and a person. I whole-heartedly nominate him for lifechanger of the year.

Ivan Posted over a year ago

Dr.Mcdaniel helped me when I just lost my dad to a lung infection and helped me learn a brand new insterment in the process

Amy Posted over a year ago

McDaniel is like a father to many of us and is an inspiration as well. He’s always been there for us through thick and thin, he’s more than just a teacher.

Kaylee Reeves Posted over a year ago

Dr.Mcdaniel is an inspiring teacher. He is like a dad figure to all the students. Being his student is a life changing experience that any other middle school wouldnt have

Lissbeth Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel has taught me a lot. He taught not to be afraid. I wish every kid had a role model has wonderful as him. He is a very inspirational, I walk into his class feeing very welcomed and happy. Not only is he a teacher but a great father figure. He teaches us right from wrong. He leads us into the right path. He is more than just a teacher. He is an inspiration.

Hannah Posted over a year ago

This teacher can relate to the kids, he understands what they have been through. He helps everyone. You can say he changes life's. He is such an inspiration. He inspires his kids every day to be the best they can.

Henry Posted over a year ago

Dr.BrianMcDaniel is a amazing teacher, he taught me how play my tenor saxophone and taught me jazz, I will forever keep this lesson with me.

Nevaeh Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel has changed my life in many ways, he taught me how to want to succeed so bad that I couldn’t fail, when I was in sixth grade I was called into Dr. McDaniels class and he told be I was going on tour, I was so excited and in the end we won, I was proud of myself for accomplishing something I didn’t think I could, Dr.McDaniel isn’t just a teacher he’s a hero!

Kelly Posted over a year ago

Dr McDaniel is an inspiration in and out of the classroom. He doesn’t turn off just because the work day has ended. He is active in his community and sees everyone he serves as family. I have substitute taught his bands and choirs. The students are so self sufficient because McDaniel has taught them to trust in their abilities. He helps them to teach and aid one another. McDaniel isn’t just teaching music. He teaches how to be a honest, sincere, kind, diplomatic leaders.

Shay Posted over a year ago

I am a former student of Dr. Brian McDaniel, he has made such a huge impact in my life. I was going through a rough patch when he was my teacher and he was the only teacher I had thank pulled me to the side and actually asked and cared about what was going on in my life. He was a huge influence on me and I don’t just see him as a teacher I see him as an inspiration, a leader, a hero, a friend and a father figure. He has changed my life for the better and I feel so fortunate to know him and have had him for a teacher.

Kim Jackson Posted over a year ago

This is the second year my son has been in Dr. McDaniels class at PHMS. Before that he taught my nephew at DHSHS. Dr. McDaniel is an amazing teacher and I wish every child had the opportunity to be in his class.

Anessaa Medagamage Posted over a year ago

I'm not from America. I only came for a music tour and I can honestly say that I have never met someone who can welcome a big group of girls with such open arms. We sung for hours and I can honestly say that I have learned many things from him. He is an amazing teacher and he has told us these life lessons that I know/use I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have to say that if I were ever to come back to America, California to be precise I would have only come to see Brian and his amazing family. I know that he wishes the best for all of the choristers he has housed. I hope he gets the same love that he has showed me from everyone who meets him, because he will teach you not only about music but also about being able to make you realize all the potential that you may not know you had :)

Kelly Posted over a year ago

Dr McDaniel always makes my day better along with others. Last year we got the chance to go to Sacramento and sing we had a good time and it was the best 3 days of my life.Dr McDaniel always gives us speeches to motivate us to do better in life and to know that everyone has the chance to change somebody's life and he makes sure everyone is okay whenever someone needs to talk to him he is always there for them and does what ever he can to make sure they are okay he changes people's lives one by one.

Dariana Posted over a year ago

He is an amazing teacher he has taught me so many things, he has taught me that times is the most valuable thing because you can’t go back, and that if we want success we need to want it as much as we want to breathe. I think he should win!

Eduardo Casillas Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is a man who wears many hats. That of band/choir director, instrument repairman, marching technician, color guard instructor, mentor, motivational speaker, father, husband, and friend. One of the lessons I will never forget was the day he told us that there were three things in life people should absolutely respect. People should never interfere with each other's family, faith, or food. These are simple principles that he embraced day in and day out. As I matured I realized how important these principles were because many people did lack respect of these things. McDaniel has had such an impact on the city of Desert Hot Springs these last few years that I am really proud to have had him as a teacher. Even though his impact started to grow into our city and was recently recognized by the state of California, it was always there in the classroom. What I noticed once leaving DHSHS was that in many other cities across the state, the standards to which students were held were different across the board. Some students questioned if they would have the grades to graduate high school; whereas other students would question what college they would be attending or what job they would take. McDaniel held all of his students to a higher standard because he believed in his heart that they could perform at the same, if not, a higher level than other schools in California. The greatest evidence to prove that is our two consecutive first place California State Band Championship titles from 2013 and 2014. McDaniel is a life changer because is able to bring out the best in people, even if they don't know how.

Miguel Montes Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel became my teacher, mentor and great friend. I remember the first day we met in High School and the first thing I noticed was how much passion he had for teaching music, inspiring, and helping others, Most importantly, Dr. McDaniel made sure he made a positive impact on his students, school and community. One of the things that separates Dr.McDaniel from all the other teachers is how he actually goes "beyond all expectations" to reach his goals and become an amazing educator. His life changing experiences made students realize that he is no different than us. Dr.McDaniel is a native from our same hometown and created something out of nothing with his students, community and band programs. I had the privilege of not just being his student, but also serving as his Drum Major for two years in High School. We always had a goal and that goal was to dominate in the marching band field in our division and bring home a California State Championship. During my senior year as drum major and working at the right hand side of Dr. McDaniel. We brought home a first time ever California State Band Championship (2013). This was the first state band championship the school, city and even entire school district has ever received in history. This became a burst of celebration as everyone was proud of the students of the high school. Serving as Drum Major made me realize that I wanted to one day become a music educator and inspire my student to strive for the highest just like my mentor Dr.McDaniel did. Ever since I went off to college I noticed how much work, and effort Dr.McDaniel has put into his band programs. He has done a lot compared to many band directors across the nation. I remember visiting Dr.McDaniel at his new job at Painted Hills Middle School and noticing the tremendous growth and development he has done with both band and choir. He has made sure every student is able to play on a school instrument free of cost. When I fist saw the program, there were only a few instruments and now they have a full stocked band room. From a music education point of view that is an incredibly hard task to do in such a short time frame. Dr.McDaniel does a lot to ensure his students receive a quality education. He has met with many politicians, assemblymen, and congressmen to see what he can do to help DACA students. He wants to make sure he is the voice of DACA students by helping them reach a path to citizenship. Dr.McDaniel stands up for all of his students despite of their background, culture, and ethnicity. He is the voice of his students and people. He truly has shaped and changed my life by taking me under his wing and teaching me the tools and resources I need to become a future band director. Dr.McDaniel is a teacher that makes time for his students. In school he would remind his students that if they ever needed someone talk to he would always be there to help. Till this day that is still true. I call this man and ask him for help, guidance and support all the time and he always helps me with open arms. Words can't describe what Dr.McDaniel has done to help me and I'm thankful for everything he has done to treat me like a son. I have never had a teacher show so much love, passion and enthusiasm towards their students in school, college and graduate school compared to Dr. Brian McDaniel.

Abraham Duran Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel was one of the best and most inspirational teachers I have ever met. Even now as a sophomore in highschool, I still remember his motivational speeches for us to go farther everyday in life. He would push us to be out best and I am forever thankful for that!

Tyler Darnell Posted over a year ago

One of the goals of any given band director should be to encourage them to move forward in their music career, (if that's what they're doing or planning on doing), and Dr. Brian McDaniel certainly did that with many of us. For myself and many people and sincere friends that I have known, the longtime and now-retired band director at Desert Springs Middle School, Gary Coble, showed us the glory of music and introduced us to the world of tours and performances. Then, those who continued on, transferred over to Desert Hot Springs High School to continue with their music education. There they were lead to Dr. Brian McDaniel who continued to tell us about music theory, take us on tours, and lead us in marching band competitions around the Riverside-Anaheim area. If you had a passion for music from middle school, then that passion for music would be solidified at DHSHS. Through McDaniel's program, myself and many others were given incredible opportunities including, but never limited to, touring across Anaheim, San Francisco, and Riverside; meeting and working with Dr. Peter Boonshaft, and performing at the famed Segerstrom Centre for the Arts. It also gave myself and many others the chance to grow on our instruments and even learn new ones. The band program elevated from the "before and during school elective" status that many, including the school, gave it to a way of life and a skill and life developer for many. The students weren't the only ones growing, either. When the opportunity came to further his career and help even more students, McDaniel seized it and transferred over to the new Painted Hills Middle School. Since then, he has become one of California's Teachers of the Year and is nominated for a national teacher of the year title. He's worked with new students, new co-workers, and a new regiment over at PHMS and has proved just as successful over at the middle school as he was at high school. He is now providing grand opportunities to new students as often as he did with his old students who, just like the community of Desert Hot Springs, will never forget the work and efforts that he had done for them. Now here's how this man and his program have changed my life personally. As I mentioned, my passion for music really solidified in high school under McDaniel's guidance. I decided during that time, based on what I had seen, that I would like to pursue a career in music education as a band director in the (hopefully) near future. Late junior year, I began composing music and still continue with that to this day. I'm currently also still working towards the band director goal at the local College of the Desert, still learning and performing as much as before in the wind symphony where we have a performance at Carnegie Hall planned for late-April of 2019. Imagine what would have happened though if our director didn't care? What if that passion had died out due to lack of interest from a man who was more of an employed teacher than a director? What if they were only in it for the money? None of this would have happened for me and many of my now very close friends. I wouldn't be where I currently am in life if we were in that situation. We weren't though, thankfully, as we had an outstanding leader and director. I believe that's about as close to being a life-changing person as you can get. Dr. Brian McDaniel is a dictionary definition of the term "life-changer" and I sincerely hope he can add the title of "Life-Change of the Year" to the extensive list of positive titles and honours.

Ana Rangel Posted over a year ago

Dr. McDaniel is a wonderful person! He was the band director for me and my siblings. I am the eldest of fours and my youngest sister is 12 years younger than me. He truly has a passion for everything he does. And I truly admire all of the hard work and dedication he puts into helping the schools, the students and the community. What I admire the most is that he does all of that on top of being a father and husband. Words cannot describe how happy I am for having been a student of his. I am currently a grad student studying music, and I can honestly say that he was one of the people that inspired my career choice. Thank Dr. McDaniel for everyhting you have done for me and my family. You are simply the best.

Teaka Lilly Posted over a year ago

Dr. Brian McDaniel is everything a teacher should be; caring, inspiring, he sees each student as an individual. Our son learned so much in the 2 years he had band with him. When he promoted to high school the band instructor there wasn't the same caliber as Dr. McDaniel, a great caring teacher really makes a difference. We're so proud of his accomplishments and really hope he can add this to his amazing list of accolades.

Annelise Allen Posted over a year ago

This was my band director for most of the time I was in High School. He won Teacher of the Year award (and definitely deserves it)! He gives his all to his students, both tangible things and things you can't count. He helped raise the bulk of the money for me to go on a jazz band trip to Chicago. He was always affirming and validating my strengths and encouraging me to pursue them. What I liked best was just the environment of band when he was my teacher. It was more cohesive and students were excited to be involved. I could see that after I left High School as he gave me the opportunity to help tutor flute sectionals in my free time when I visited home. He also does so many fundraisers for instruments and such so kids who may not have the opportunity to participate in the arts are able to. This cohesiveness, excitement, and pride I experienced is especially important in areas like those where I grew up. It changed a lot once he taught at my school. He befriended and encouraged students outside of his own classrooms who joined band. He was known by all the arts students and friends with all the teachers too. He tried to do fundraisers to help provide students who wouldn't have joined for financial reasons with the necessary instruments, equipment, etc. I admit I wasn't as disadvantaged as others around me but I know every kid benefits from inspired and caring teachers. Every kid benefits from a learning environment that motivates them to pursue learning. Further, I personally believe the arts are very important for kids' development, especially in areas where they may feel they don't have much to believe in. And this is where Dr. McDaniel really tried to get students involved who hadn't had these resources available to them. I didn't end up pursuing education in music, but it is still close to my heart! And learning as a whole. I've heard a field show practicing across my street all week and it makes me count down the days I will have more time to get involved with music in other ways.

Lindsay Jordan Posted over a year ago

Brian McDaniel is by far one of the most inspirational people in my life. I met Dr. McDaniel in 2010 as a freshman at Desert Hot Springs High school. I was A member of the band program and we clicked. Later that year my dad died and McDaniel stepped in and made the connection that nobody else bothered to do. He took me under his wing and guided me to take a better direction with my life. I have now graduated college with honors and am making a successful career. Brian was a big part in making that happen and will forever appreciate him! He is “Beyond all expections,” and he pushes his students to be as well! And he won’t stop until he succeeds!

Philip Chaisson Posted over a year ago

My time with the Golden Eagle Regiment gave myself and many of my peers invaluable experience in teamwork, leadership, and discipline. Dr. Brian McDaniel gave us the opportunity to learn and use the skills involved in planning, leading, and executing the large scale endeavor that is a marching band field show. While lead drum major of the Regiment, I personally grew in teaching and evaluating skills ranging from marching techniques to musical expression as well as in the work required to team up with other students in leading our peers. My time with Dr. McDaniel was one of the core experiences during high school that prepared me for success in university and continues to be influential in my success as a soldier in America's Army. I cannot but count Dr. McDaniel as one of the life changers whom I have had the pleasure of encountering and without reservation recommend him for this award.

Leah Juelke Posted over a year ago

I met Brian in January as part of our 2018 STOY class. I have never met a more passionate and motivated person. His love for his students goes far beyond his classroom. He has helped many students outside of class with personal situations as well as helped his students find the love for music. He is always willing to go the extra mile with his colleagues and has helped me with my professional development as well. Brian McDaniel has changed many lives and is an amazing person.