Staff Spotlight: Daniel Adu


Photo courtesy of Fred Ingham Photography

Teacher Daniel Adu playing football as a senior at WS. Adu would go on to play at James Madison University and loved his time as a student athlete.

Special Education teacher Daniel Adu, a Class of 2017 graduate, returned to WS this school year. While teaching at an alma mater is not unheard of, few do so fresh out of college like Adu. 

Adu attended James Madison University with a major in sociology and a minor in criminal justice, and is also attending George Mason University for a degree in education. Adu is not so far removed from his senior year of high school and can connect with students on a different level than many other teachers can.

“It’s a good thing because I’m relatable to kids. I’m probably closer in age to them than most of my co-workers,” said Adu. “And so having that middle person, right between student and teacher, someone you feel you relate more to, can help students be comfortable asking you for help.”

But, Adu’s ability to build relationships with students isn’t always positive. 

“It could be something where it hinders you at times because being that close in age, not graduating high school that long ago, some students look at it as another friend, but there’s still a factor of respect that has to be maintained,” said Adu.

Taking full-time college classes is also something that Adu feels helps him work with students more effectively. 

“Believe it or not, most teachers in this building are probably taking some sort of classes. If you’re a teacher and you aren’t constantly learning or trying to pick new things up as you go, you’re doing kids a disservice,” said Adu.

Adu has experienced the struggle of feeling overwhelmed while starting a new job and simultaneously studying in college but has also helped him connect with students. Students’ struggles being similar to his makes it easier to find solutions and offer support to students who need it. 

“Understanding students, what they might be going through or have going on. It’s not necessarily an excuse to ‘go easy on them,’ but you have to be able to understand that as a teacher and a student, there are times where [I] feel overwhelmed and you can’t do anything about it,” said Adu. “And so what I and other teachers have done is not say ‘you don’t have to do that assignment,’ they’re headed in a way that is about understanding. If a kid is struggling or going through a lot, there are different ways to get that work done.”

Adu loves being a part of the WS community again, despite the challenges of being a teacher at the front instead of a student behind a desk. Teaching wasn’t always Adu’s plan though, but his experience in college is what changed his course.

“When I got to college, [I] sort of grew up a little bit,” said Adu. “And where I saw myself was in the school, helping kids out. I can remember when I had administrators and teachers, apart from just the classroom, help me out with life in general. I think a big part of me being in the school is not just teaching, but sharing my story and helping kids who were in my position.” 

Adu might not be a seasoned, experienced teacher, but he brings something that few teachers can replicate: approachability and relatability. Adu loves his career, and with his degree in education, he looks forward to his future in teaching.