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Daniel Kelly ’17EDD: ‘I Hope My Students Learn That There is More to Education Than Just Content Knowledge’

Daniel Kelly ‘17EDD will join the NC State College of Education in the 2023-24 academic year as an assistant professor of technology, engineering, and design education. 

A graduate of the College of Education, Kelly previously served as an assistant professor of STEM education at Texas Tech University and recently received an award for a publication co-authored with other College of Education faculty. 

Learn more about Kelly below: 

Why did you choose a career in education?

I would say that education chose me. I struggled throughout my K-12 education. I dropped out in 10th grade and bounced between homelessness and foster care. I was fortunate enough to be able to return and complete high school. I started my education career to make a difference for students who struggled as I did and hopefully set them on an easier path than I had. 

What inspired you to pursue a doctoral degree?

I initially came to NC State to complete my initial teaching license requirements. I stayed for my master’s degree because of the excellent faculty and students. During that time, I realized my passion for research and how that work could help me develop new methods by which to reach at-risk students and develop new teachers to address all student needs in the classroom. 

What are your research interests?

My primary research involves improving equitable access and awareness of STEM educational opportunities for students at high risk of not completing high school, especially those in non-parental custody. 

What sparked your interest in those topics?

My own background. Youth who age out of foster care have some of the lowest graduation rates of any demographic. Children involved in the criminal justice system have even worse outcomes. Something needs to be done to provide better opportunities for these youth. 

What is one moment or project in your academic career that you are particularly proud of?

My recent NSF CAREER award truly validates the work I have been doing for the past five years. 

What is your teaching philosophy?

Education is personal. Everyone learns differently, has different needs, different deficits and different opportunities. Given that learning is so individualized and personal, I believe education and instruction should be as well. I strive to meet the needs of every student — to meet them where they are and determine, together, how best to achieve their academic goals. 

What do you hope your students learn from you?

I hope my students learn that there is more to education than just content knowledge. Although important, the application of that knowledge is most important. I want them to be able to think through the solution for more than a right answer, but to be able to consider all of the implications of a solution to a problem. 

What do you believe makes someone an extraordinary educator?

Passion and empathy. If COVID taught me anything, it is the need to consider all that our students encounter on a daily basis and find ways to support our students through these struggles while still maintaining high levels of instructional rigor.