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February 15, 2017

Dr. Randy Watson, Commissioner of Education

Landon State Office Building
900 SW Jackson Street, Suite 201
Topeka, KS 66612

I am writing this letter on behalf of my colleague, friend, and nominee for the Kansas Teacher of
the Year, Danielle Riney. I have had the opportunity to work with Danielle in my role as K-12 Science
Coordinator for Science for the past 4 years.

Danielle has many positive attributes that have made her the respected teacher that she is and a
sought after colleague for support and collaboration. She is a veteran teacher that is energetic and always
willing to learn and try new things. This is a quality that makes her relevant to her students. For example,
in Blue Valley we are in our second year of using new resources to teach our new science standards.
Danielle already had a passion for teaching her students in an authentic way, but integrating the hands-on
equipment with her own researched and very creative strategies has created a positive, rigorous and
engaging learning environment for all of her students.

Danielle possesses a fierce determination; she wants to always do her best. This can be seen in her
efforts to support all students in understanding the wonders of science, whether that is finding a way to
provide extra support for her students who might be struggling or finding interesting projects that require
learning new technology and having voice and choice. She teaches science but is only satisfied when she
has built strong and meaningful relationships with her students. It is because of these relationships that
she can reach, push, and challenge her students; they know she cares and wants what is best for them.

Danielle is always willing to serve on both building and district level science committees. She is
willing to listen, share her opinions and knowledge, participate is constructive collegial dialog, and then
support the committees work through sharing and presenting to other science teachers. This is evident in
her current work with the NGSS. Her solid science knowledge positive outlook and ability to build
relationships with others is what makes her the outstanding science teacher that every student deserves
to have.

Danielle exemplifies who we are and what we do as science teachers here in Blue Valley!


Christie Purdon
February 16, 2017

Dr. Randy Watson

Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
Landon State Office Building
900 SE Jackson Street, Suite 102
Topeka, KS 66612-1212

RE: Teacher of the Year for Blue Valley Middle School/Mrs. Riney

Dear Dr. Watson,

I am honored to write a letter of support, as a parent, for my sons 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Danielle

We have been fortunate enough to have Mrs. Riney for two of our boys, Samuel DeZube and Charlie

Mrs. Riney taught our son Samuel, who is currently a freshman in high school, his seventh and eighth-
grade year. Samuel is in the gifted program, and school comes very easily for him. He loves science and
math. He does get easily bored if he isnt challenged enough. Mrs. Riney was able to challenge Samuel
in a subject he loves, without letting him get bored. Samuel still refers to Mrs. Riney as one of his best

Mrs. Riney is currently teaching Charlie in 7th grade. Charlie has to study and work harder for his grades
than his brother, Samuel. Prior to this year, Charlie would have told you that Science is one of his least
favorite subjects. I never heard him talk about what he was doing in science class, until this year.

I have never heard Charlie talk more about a class than he has about Science this year. We have
discussed everything from the germs found on the button on the water fountain at school, to the bugs
living in our mattresses and pillows. My son is excited and engaged in his 7th grade science class.

I am not surprised that Mrs. Riney has been nominated as the Teacher of the Year for Blue Valley Middle
School. She has what it takes to be a great teacher. A teacher that can keep a student whom things come
easily to, still engaged; and one that had no interest in Science, engaging him not only in class, but
discussing those topics at home.

I have sent Mrs. Riney e-mails through the year thanking her for pulling my son into the world of science.
Very few teachers are able to pull a student into a subject he either doesnt understand or thinks he has no
interest in knowing.

Thank you for allowing such a fantastic teacher to teach our children here at Blue Valley Middle School.


Keisha DeZube
16601 Rosewood St,
Overland Park, Kansas 66085
February 5, 2013

Dr. Rod Smith, Principal

Frontier Trail Middle School
15300 W. 143rd St.
Olathe, KS 66062

Dear Dr. Smith:

I would like to recommend Danielle Riney for the position of middle school science
teacher. I have known Danielle for several years as a student at Avila University.

During the fall semester of 2012, I was one of Danielles mentors at Turner Middle
School. Our graduate program has a course that allows me to spend time in our
students classrooms acting as a mentor. I spent many hours with her observing and
interacting with her classes. Had I not known that Danielle was a first year teacher, I
would have assumed that she had been teaching for years.

Danielle engages her students through well designed lessons built on appropriate
objectives. Many of her lessons were organized around different labs that required the
students to state and test different hypotheses. Students worked together in pairs or
small groups during these labs. They collected and analyzed their data and presented it
in multiple formats.

Danielle developed an excellent rapport with her students. She understands the
psychology and needs of the middle school student. Behavior management was never
a difficulty for her. She established a climate of trust and respect that her students
honor. She uses a variety of positive reinforcements very effectively.

Danielle is very intelligent, articulate, and responsible. She communicates well in both
oral and written form. She is very creative and makes science come alive for her
students. She works well with people of all ages. Her smile quickly puts people at
ease. Danielle has become an active member of the faculty at Turner Middle School.
She cares deeply about her students and is dedicated to teaching them and helping
them to learn and grow.

Danielle would make an excellent member of any team or faculty. I give her my highest
recommendation. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me at 816-501-2433


Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D.

Professor, Schools of Education and Psychology