Daphney Landry wore many hats in her seven years teaching elementary school in New Orleans. We’re thrilled to have this award-winning math teacher, special educator, former military child, and new dog mom on our team of Navigators.
Hi Daphney! Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you joined EdNavigator.
I specialized in educating the amazing third graders at Dolores T. Aaron Academy in New Orleans. I called third grade home for seven years.
Third grade is a great age, right?
It is! You really get to see their personalities shine. I was able to grow as a third grade teacher into a team leader for third and fourth grades. Eventually, I became a math content specialist and spearheaded our school’s transition to the Zearn Math Curriculum.
What is Zearn, exactly?
I call it Eureka Math's “bougie cousin.” There is an independent learning aspect to Zearn that’s really great. Say you have 30 kids in your classroom. You can have 15 kids in a group with you, while the others work on independently on the online component of the lesson. And then they would swap. Or if either group needs differentiation, you can tailor their lesson to where they are. That’s what I really liked about it. I love Zearn. It was great to tailor to the needs that our kids had when we went virtual, too.
I’m curious what drew you to math.
Initially I was the special education case manager. Then I transitioned into being the case manager and ELA co-teacher. And then my role completely changed the following year and I taught math and social studies. So I’ve taught it all! But actually, as a kid, I really struggled with math. Specifically third grade math.
Yeah, I absolutely hated it. I struggled with learning multiplication; fractions were the devil.
How did you overcome that as an educator?
It was due to professional development. The lead math planner taught me how to teach math. I realized that I always needed visual aids to support my comprehension. I didn't understand the why otherwise. As a kid, I’d learned, you know, that two threes together equals six. So why is three times three different from three plus
three? What does multiplication actually mean? I didn't have the language to say, "Oh, three times three is three groups of three." With fractions, no one explained to me that it was parts of a whole. If I've eaten this portion of the cookie, I've eaten a fraction of the whole thing. It wasn’t taught to us using that language. As a teacher, I found that a lot of kids missed that as well; they didn't understand the concepts behind the functions. This is a whole different way of learning math.
That’s the shift we're supposed to be making in math instruction with the Common Core—toward a more conceptual understanding of math, right?
Yes. Yes. Really getting kids to understand the why and develop those critical thinking skills. It’s different for parents and teachers compared to how we learned, but it makes a world of difference.
What drew you to EdNavigator?
As a teacher I really loved bonding with my kids and their families. I had a family call me recently—their daughter was like my mini-me in third grade. She’ll be in seventh grade in the fall. Her mom called me for Teacher Appreciation Week and said, "You know, you're still our favorite teacher.” I really value building those relationships with families, and sharing how they can be a part of their community and support each other. That’s a value that was instilled in me growing up as a child. With a parent in the military, we relied on our communities, especially when we had a parent deployed. So that drew me to EdNavigator: the chance to establish meaningful relationships with families and help them navigate the education space.
As a military child, I’m guessing you went to a lot of schools yourself?
Oh yeah. At one point I think I went to at least five different schools in five years. My parents did a great job of preparing us for those transitions. As an adult, I think I'm able to adjust and adapt because those were life skills I learned at an early age. So I'm grateful for that. It's kind of contradicted who I should be as a Leo.
Tell me more about Leos.
We can be very, very stubborn. I’m glad I’m not as stubborn as I could be.
What are you most excited to do as part of the EdNav team?
So much in education is hidden from families. In New Orleans especially, the education system is designed in ways that keep parents unaware. And that didn't sit well with me as a teacher. You can’t sweep things under the rug, or not give parents the information they need to advocate for their children. I’ve seen circumstances where school leaders knew that some children weren’t being served well, but didn’t want to clue parents into that because they wanted to keep their enrollment numbers up. When parents are not knowledgeable about things that are directly related to their children, they can’t make well-informed decisions. I'm excited to help parents realize that they and their children are deserving of a positive, supportive school experience. So much good can happen when parents become aware of their power to hold the system accountable.
What do you love to do outside of Ed Nav?
Singing was always my first love. I've been really trying to step into the power I have as a lyricist, because I love storytelling through songs. And of course, being a dog mom is my favorite thing right now. My puppy's name is Oreo Devante. He is a whole hoot and a half.