Dani Greenwell is shown with her husband, Michael, and son, Jaxon.
November 20, 2020
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
Danielle “Dani” Greenwell said she always wanted to be a teacher. She considered it her calling. Thanks to the Tennessee Reconnect program, she’s on track to make that happen. But the path to reaching her goals hasn’t always been so clear.
Years ago, she was incorrectly told she couldn’t teach because she had a GED, or General Equivalency Diploma, from high school. Greenwell said she obtained the GED at age 16 after studying for the requisite exam over the summer.
Last year, while working as a substitute teacher at Kingston Elementary School in Roane County, a student teacher set the record straight for her. “She told me about the ‘2+2’ program and said I could pursue that with a GED,” Greenwell said.
Now, Greenwell is well on her way in the 2+2 program, where students take fundamental courses for two years at Roane State. That’s followed by two years of studying to be a teacher, still based at Roane State but taught by Tennessee Tech educators.
Working as a substitute teacher at Kingston Elementary only reinforced her goal to become an educator, she said.
Greenwell said her duties at the school changed recently when she was hired as a teaching assistant. She now works 25 hours a week with small groups of students needing a bit more help with reading and math.
With her working part-time and taking care of her 8-year-old son, Jaxon, Greenwell says taking all online classes at Roane State “works for me.”
She’s taking the usual classes required for incoming freshmen at Roane State and highly recommends a course titled “Study, Organize, Succeed.”
“It teaches you skills that you may not think about needing before you start college,” she said.
Greenwell is a Tennessee Reconnect student, utilizing a state grant that covers her Roane State tuition. Textbooks and online fees totaled about $300 for her first semester.
She said Roane State employees have been a huge help. She says her success coach, Amber Thomas, “has been really, really helpful. She walked me through registration, told me about financial aid and assisted me in registering for classes.”
She also praises Stephanie Holmes, her probability and statistics teacher. “She’s really nice. If I have any questions, she’ll set up a Zoom meeting.”
Greenwell said Stacie Bradshaw, lead faculty of the Roane State Education Department and her instructor for the course titled “Introduction to the Teaching Profession,” “has been very helpful.”
“Dani is a wonderful student,” said Bradshaw, an associate professor of education.
Overall, Greenwell said she’s pleased with her Roane State experience. “It’s been good so far. Every time I’ve had questions, I’ve been able to find answers.”
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