HOUSTON – Just before the doors opened at Dekaney High School for the first day of the 2023-24 school year, Daniel Young paused for a moment to take it all in.
The job – as 9th grade Biology teacher at the school’s 9th grade campus – was new. And being in a classroom as a first-year teacher was new. But showing up at a Spring ISD campus that morning wasn’t new.
The Westfield High School graduate may have left the area to attend the University of Texas at Austin, and serve as a running back on the football team. But he was back in Spring – back at home – to teach.
Part of the inaugural class of Spring ISD’s Future Educators program in 2017, Young signed a letter of intent to return to the district to teach after graduating from college with an education degree. Now Young is making good on that promise and sees being a teacher as a natural fit.
“I grew up in a family that valued education,” he said. “I was just taught the importance of education and how the education that you create at school becomes the tools that you use to carve out your life.”
Both of his parents had an effect on his future choice of profession. His mother, who worked in childcare, taught him the value of education, while his father, a technician, instilled in him a love of science.
“Science has always been very intriguing to me. I had a father that was a technician, and he taught me how to think about how things work,” Young said. “I feel that science is a very pivotal core subject. Learning more about your body, learning more about the world, is pivotal to moving within that world.”
Outside of his parents, Young said the majority of his role models growing up were his teachers and coaches. Those role models inspired him to be a teacher.
“As a young Black male, to be a positive role model in today’s time is important. Kids need to see that. My coaches and teachers pushed me to be great,” he said. “I want to help them to see how important and how much of a privilege it is to learn, to be able to have an education.”“Seeing the impact they had on myself, my teammates, my friends, and just the whole community, I knew that I wanted to grow up to be a man that was able to lead, to teach, and to inspire,” Young said.
Before attending Westfield, Young went to Bammel Elementary and Bammel Middle School. He said two of his football coaches at Westfield shared the exact same educational path as him, having attended Bammel and Westfield before going off to play football in college and returning to Spring to teach. And the man who hired him at Dekaney – Principal Alonzo Reynolds III – is the same man who was the principal of Westfield during Young’s time there.
Those connections played a major part in his decision to return to Spring ISD.
“Looking back and seeing the type of men that they were and that they were on the same path that I was on, then they came back and they taught in the district,” Young said. “It all came full circle. I saw an opportunity to give back, to give that exact same juice that was given to me.”
And now that he’s back home – teaching 9th grade Biology and coaching football at Dekaney – Young sees an opportunity to be the type of role model he had during his time as a student in Spring ISD.
“As a young Black male, to be a positive role model in today’s time is important. Kids need to see that. My coaches and teachers pushed me to be great,” he said. “I want to help them to see how important and how much of a privilege it is to learn, to be able to have an education.”
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