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Daniel Beels 4
Name: Daniel Beels
Residence: Rock Hill
Occupation: Seventh-Grade Social Studies Teacher, Oakridge Middle School; Lead Teacher

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What began as a troubleshooting project for middle school teacher Daniel Beels ’09 has morphed into a vital outreach program that engages students – and their parents – in the learning process.

Beels, who teaches seventh-grade social studies at Oakridge Middle School in Clover, South Carolina, teamed up with Oakridge Assistant Principal Nicole Thompson to solve a problem. As part of the 1-to-1 Technology Initiative, every Oakridge student received an iPad. However, some students were unable to complete homework assignments because at-home internet access was unavailable. “The more you integrate technology into the classrooms, the more you see a need for Internet access at home,” explained Beels. So he helped devise the Connectivity program, which started as a partnership with Comporium and other local businesses to provide free online access for students’ school devices at home.

“The initiative has been very rewarding – we’re seeing more homework completion and an increase in grades,” said Beels, a Rock Hill resident. “We’re also noticing kids getting involved in clubs and other organizations that school has to offer. They’re enjoying their lives as students.”

Connectivity has expanded to include parents as well. The school has partnered with the Clover School District’s Adult Education Program to help parents earn their GED high school diploma equivalencies. The partnership has improved the relationship between parents and the school, which has seen increased participation in parent-teacher conferences and engagement with teachers. Beels said that he hopes the program continues to grow and allow students and parents to become more engaged in the learning process.

The initiative does require significant work outside of Beels’ regular day, but he believes the positive changes in students make the effort “totally worth it.” Beels discovered his passion for teaching at Winthrop, where his parents, David ’91 and Kim ’94, and his brother, Stephen ’07, also earned degrees. He also met his wife, Amber Moorer ’10, at Winthrop. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he calls his Winthrop experience “positively life-changing.” He credits David Vawter, associate professor of education, with teaching him the value of connecting with students and not just pushing for higher numbers in the grade book.

“As a teacher, you’re so concerned about student progress that you sometimes forget about who the student is as a person,” said Beels. “But you’ve always got to put the kids first. It’s all about the relationship that you build with the child.”

Last Updated: 7/19/2017 by MC

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