LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Justin Daniel

Position: Theatre Teacher
School: Tuscarora High School
School District: Loudoun County Public Schools
City, State: Leesburg, VA

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Music that Describes Justin

Justin Daniel was nominated by his colleague, Mary Hayes.

Mr. Daniel has taught drama/vocal instruction since 2003. He loves sharing his knowledge and expertise with Tuscarora's finest, especially those who are Broadway-bound. He previously worked at both Belmont Ridge and J.L Simpson Middle school as the drama sponsor.

Mr. Daniel also founded the Northern Virginia Preparatory Theatre Company, a select group of secondary students who are preparing for professional careers in the Theatre Arts. Over the course of his career, he has directed over forty shows, including productions of Steel Magnolias, Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, Seussical, Once on this Island, Sound of Music, Bye, Bye, Birdie, Children of Eden, High School Musical, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, A Raisin in the Sun, Annie, CATS, and Sister Act. His recent honors include directing the highest ranking productions at the Virginia Theatre Association's Young People's Competition two years in a row against 13 middle schools across the state. He has also coached Odyssey of the Mind teams, who have won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the Regional and State Tournaments and 7th place in the WORLD competition. Mr. Daniel obtained his B.F.A. Music Theatre degree from Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA and pursued his Masters in Theatre Education during his time at Tuscarora.

Mr. Daniel is dedicated to his craft and students at Tuscarora. Watching his students collaborate to provide the student body and community with a quality performance is amazing, especially given the 90 minutes every other day Mr. Daniel has with them.

Mr. Daniel is effective with his students, and he provides a safe space for students to be themselves. His students range from being outgoing to introverted, and some have special needs and emotional challenges. Each student, however, finds their own talent in the theatre department and evolves to be an important part of the team. Some students, who might not feel like they fit in, shine in the theatre department.

"I have seen Justin's plays transform people, build relationships and shift the entire atmosphere of this school," said Hayes. "About three years ago, Justin announced that he selected the play 'Sister Act' for the big spring play. It was his vision to incorporate staff in the play as extra nuns. He conducted auditions for staff and students. I was part of that process. For a minute, Justin took heat because of the play he chose, but the claims did not merit stopping the play. Instead, I witnessed a unity forming. Students and teachers bonded. Teachers and office staff who never interacted on a day to day basis learned more about each other. A true sisterhood was formed from 'Sister Act.' The following year, one of our staff members took ill and passed away, but we all fondly remember this bond we formed. It's funny - even in school, we still refer to each other as sister. It is still the play many of the staff remember and talk about often."

Mr. Daniel's leadership shines in the many extra hours he spends after school making sure that each performance is better than the previous. He does not ask his students to do something he would not do himself. If he asks the students to come early and/or stay late, he is there with them. Mr. Daniel is right there assisting students with costumes, lighting cues, setting the stage, building sets, etc. Many of his students have won prestigious awards and have moved on to pursue theatre in college. Some students have become professional performers and have active acting careers.

"There is no doubt in my mind of Justin's dedication to his students and work," said Hayes. "I have no doubt that Justin would use the LifeChanger recognition and award winnings to get much-needed supplies for the theatre department - from tools to build sets and a sewing machine to make costumes, to helping students with fees for financial obligations."

Comments (17)

Julie Hall Posted over a year ago

I want to echo all the words of support for Justin. He believed in me, and taught me to be confident and responsible. He was there for me through a difficult loss, and gave me the needed outlet to overcome trauma. He shines bright, and his light illuminates the lives of all he works with.

Shelley Butler Posted over a year ago

I have been working with Justin over the last (4) years as a member of the Tuscarora Theater Booster Club Board and am also a mother of a theater student. I am constantly in awe of how much Justin genuinely cares for each and every one of his students. It's been amazing to witness first hand how his students shine on the stage or behind the scenes as they feel like they are part of something bigger than they are. Justin is definitely a first class example of a Life Changer. I am so happy he is being recognized for his continuous hard work and dedication to his students and department.

Lisa Forman Johnson Posted over a year ago

As a parent of a 'theater kid' under Justin Daniel, I'm proud to say that in a crazy high school world, Justin fosters an inclusive environment where all students are welcomed and given the space to grow without fear of judgement. And, because of this he's positively impacting all the students under his guidance and changing lives one person at a time! Well deserved recognition!!

Jonathan Mark Rogers Posted over a year ago

I've had the pleasure over the years to work, support and supervise Mr. Daniel as the Performing Arts Specialist of LCPS and could not agree more with this nomination. Mr. Daniel is a teacher who empowers ALL of his students. This simple act allows for self expression, self confidence and security in each of his students. He is totally invested in the educational experience that allows for creativity, collaboration and critical thinking for all who work with him. HIs generosity, good will and compassion makes for a great teacher who touches all of the lives he comes into contact with. I can not think of aother teacher more deserving of this award!!!

Maral Amado Posted over a year ago

Justin Daniel is an incredible teacher with such love and support for ALL his students! His dedication is unparalleled ! Justin is definitely a one of a kind influence that impacts these kids positively EVERYDAY!

Andrea Pulley Posted over a year ago

Justin is a fantastic colleague and friend. I love that he had faculty participate in the production of Sister Act. I had so much fun and learned so much about the "behind-the-scenes" work involved in such a feat. Working alongside such a talented and funny visionary has led to many laugh and vent sessions that I continue to appreciate.

Lynda Davis Posted over a year ago

It was my honor and privilege to teach with Justin. Some of us are born to teach. I can tell you without reservation that Justin is one of those people.

Carol Steinkirchner Posted over a year ago

This is the perfect award for Justin Daniel. He doesn’t just talk about inclusion, he lives and breathes inclusion. This is a life changing win for all involved. He is such a dedicated teacher to his students.

Wendy Yacoub Posted over a year ago

Justin is an extraordinary drama teacher, he is a great human being who ensures his program is inclusive to all student. All students have a vital role in his program, they feel valued and important. I have a high degree of respect for him and his work. He is an amazing human being!!!!

Janet Rogers Posted over a year ago

Mr. Daniel is an amazing teacher who works tirelessly for his students. He deserves this award!!

Julia Spewak Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Mr. Daniel! I decided to take his theatre class freshman year and it was the best decision I ever made. Mr. Daniel helped me realize my talents on and off the stage and always pushed me to try new things. Though I ended up behind the scenes for most productions—he made me feel like I was important and valued my visions and ideas with the utmost respect. Whether it was making posters, playing improv games, or writing Dungeons and Dragons characters, he was always all-in and ready to help me better myself. Mr. Daniel helped me find my place in the world and continues to support me now that I’ve graduated. Thank you for everything Mr. Daniel! :-)

Riley Clark Posted over a year ago

Mr. Daniel includes every student that would like to participate in his program. He works from dawn to dusk with the students and gives a huge amount of his time during the weekend. He also teaches his students about “giving back” through various activities his theater groups facilitates during the school year.

AMANDA WELCH Posted over a year ago

Not only is Mr. Daniel/Justin, one of my favorite teachers, he is one of my favorite people. He is professional, brilliant, creative, empathetic, humorous, diligent, forgiving, stead fast in his convictions and above all else... a teacher. He made my last 2 years of high school, years that I will never forget. He challenged me to venture into spaces I’d only dreamed of going to and showed me how much I had to offer. He enabled me to discover a passion in theatre, leadership and mentorship that I have used to excel in college, my professional career and life in general. I cannot think of someone more deserving of this honor.

Christine Tarrant Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Justin as a colleague for six years. We have taught music theatre classes together for three years. Justin is one of the best colleagues I have ever worked with. Willing to share ideas and to listen he always puts students first. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious and encourages me to be a better teacher. He is an advocate of the fine arts and loyal to his students and colleagues. He is an incredible theatre director, his productions are always at the professional level. It is amazing that he does this all while training and providing his students to take on lead roles. I am proud to call him a colleague, collaborator and friend. He has earned this Lifechanger of the year award by his dedication not only to Tuscarora but to the theatre and fine arts departments.

Kendall Guntner Posted over a year ago

This is so exciting to see Mr. Daniel be recognized for what he does for his students. Mr. Daniel ignited a love and passion for theatre in my heart early in my high school career, and I learned so much from studying under him. I’m thankful to have had a teacher that cared about and supported their students as much as he does! Mr. Daniel encouraged me to pursue theatre as a career, and I’m now over halfway through getting my degree in musical theatre! I wouldn’t be here without him, and I will never be able to thank him enough for his continuous support and encouragement throughout high school and even now.

Mary Posted over a year ago

Excited about this nomination. Well deserved. Congratulations!

Tina Rumer Posted over a year ago

This is an exceptionally written piece regarding Mr. Daniel. Every word written describes his passion and dedication to the school and his students. As a special education teacher, Mr. Daniel is remarkable with our students with special needs and those students look forward to helping and being a part of such a wonderful part of our schools history of fabulous plays. I would love nothing more than to see Justin Daniel receive this prestigious reward in order to assist his program in getting additional materials and support that he needs in order to push this program even further than he ever thought possible! Good luck Justin!