Meet Danielle Troy, who teaches art to middle and high school students in Redmond.

What do you do? I’m a visual arts teacher for 7-12 grade students at The Overlake School in Redmond. I teach mostly design and photography to high school students, and digital and challenge based art to middle school students. I focus on teaching the kids to be curious and experimental in order to get them to think critically and get their imaginations moving and growing.

How did you get started in that field? I graduated from college with a degree in photography way back in the mid-’90s and had originally thought I’d become a photojournalist. After an eight-week stint in Madagascar in ’94, I realized that photojournalism wasn’t for me — too much trauma to witness so closely. While working at a Ritz Camera in Boston, I bumped into my old high school photo teacher. I had always loved the idea of teaching, and so when he asked what I wanted to be doing with my life I said, “Your job!” His response: “So why don’t you? You’d be great at it!” So thank you, Mr. Kestenbaum, wherever you are!

What’s a typical day like? We start the day at 8:10 a.m. and have a rotating schedule, which means we rarely have the same class at the same time in a week. I may go from teaching seventh- and eighth-graders how to create GIFs in the Mac lab, to the studio in the “Art Barn” where I get to make a mess teaching high school students to make intricate patterns with linoleum block prints. Then it’s back to the lab to teach the older kids how to design a social-issues poster and take a great photograph. Somewhere in there I find time to clean up, plan for my next class and take a quick break for lunch.

What surprises people about what you do? Usually they’re surprised that I have a great deal of freedom with how and what I teach. Because of that I am driven to learn more and shake my curriculum up every year. They are also surprised by how much the kids tell me about their lives, and that I keep in touch with them decades after they graduate. I’m really lucky.

What’s the best part of the job? The people! My colleagues are some of the most big-hearted, dedicated people I know. My students couldn’t be more hilarious, sweet, honest and curious. As an art teacher I am lucky enough to connect with students on a different level than most other teachers. I feel so lucky to have the role of a trusted adult in their lives during an often really difficult and tumultuous time.

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