Empowering educators to change students’ lives: Meet Danny Shapiro, the head of Osmo’s Teacher Ambassador Program

March 25, 2022 / Learn About Osmo

While working at the U.S. Department of State in 2011, I accepted a remote assignment in San Francisco for what was supposed to be a temporary job rotation. Of course, that plan soon changed. During my six months there, I fell in love with California and I couldn’t imagine returning to life in Washington. So, I decided to stay in SF full-time, and I used that geographic transition to pursue a career transition. 

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but the path forward was unclear. I didn’t want to become a full-time graduate student again, so instead, I found a teacher training program that combined a one-year Masters’ in education with a California teaching credential with in-classroom mentor-teacher partnership.

It was the perfect avenue to pursue a lifelong dream. Teaching was a career passion I always wanted to realize – I was a summer camp counselor growing up, I loved working with kids, and I wanted to follow in the path of my mom, who is also an educator. I taught seventh and eighth grade ELA and History for three years. While it was an intense period of my life, it helped transform me both personally and professionally. I understood the importance of community in a whole new way. I taught at a K-8 school, where my students had younger siblings, families were incredibly supportive, and I was grateful to earn the trust of so many. I saw how powerful a community can be at transforming students’ lives. 

I made the difficult decision to switch from classroom teaching to supporting classrooms at the district level in 2015.  From this vantage point I really found my calling by combining my project management skills with my love for the classroom. As a teacher, I learned that time is such an incredibly valuable resource. As a district manager, I was able to foster long-term adoption of new communications systems and tools that both benefited students and saved teachers’ time.

When lessons didn’t go according to plan, or if I wasn’t feeling my best and I couldn’t help my students be their best, it took an emotional toll. 

I’ve been fortunate to have had many life-defining moments: I’ve backpacked across countries, earned multiple degrees, and met fascinating people. But nothing can prepare you for the challenge of having a bad day in a middle school classroom. I wanted to continue making teachers’ lives better, so they can focus more on student success.

When I had great days in the classroom, I felt on top of the world.

There was an incredible energy in the room between my students and me. That’s when magic happens – real learning, real growth, real connection. I dedicated my career to creating that magic on a larger scale.

My husband Carl and I moved to Philadelphia in 2020, and before joining Osmo, I was working at a non-profit organization called Character Lab, which advances scientific insights in child development  through school-based research. I supported the school-side operations and logistical hurdles that it takes to get kids to participate in research.

I believe that the field of education should be representative and inclusive. By over-representing historically under-resourced and marginalized communities, research scientists can make equitable conclusions that can support all children across the country. I loved the authentic connection to school communities, and advancing the organization’s mission of helping all kids thrive.

When I discovered the Osmo Teacher Ambassador Program opportunity, I knew it was an innovative way to recreate the same magic in the classroom that I felt as a teacher by empowering educators and students with Osmo. The work that teachers are expected do is truly superhuman. They give so much of themselves every day, day after day, in spite of so many obstacles. I’m truly grateful to continue to empower teachers and families at Osmo, and I’m so excited for what’s to come. 

To contact Danny for more information about the Teacher Ambassador Program, email him at danny@playosmo.com.