Art of a scholar thinking

Danielle Llewelyn, LL ‘24 Scholar, Proust Questionnaire

Danielle LlewelynLeadership Lab, Leadership Programs, Pedagogy of Leadership Interview, Pedagogy Of Leadership®, Student Leadership

Getting to know a 2024 gcLi Lab Scholar– Danielle Llewelyn

by Danielle Llewelyn, Director of Leadership Development, Science Department Chair, Director of the Capstone Experience at Fountain Valley School in CO

1. Who are your favorite writers? 

The Alchemist is one of my favorite books, so Paulo Coelho is up there! Angie Thomas is a powerful new author, and when I need some escape from work books, Kristin Hannah, Taylor Jenkins, and Liane Moriarty are great go-to authors.  

2. Who are your heroes in real life? 

I fully admire folks who are willing to take a stand for what they believe in, especially those who do so in support of social or climate justice such as the organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement and Greta Thunberg. 

3. Who or what motivated you to become an educator? 

After swearing I never wanted to take another science class after freshman year biology (and a horrible teacher), my high school chemistry teacher taught with such passion and excitement for the subject matter that I fell in love with science again. Good thing, too, as I ended up with a bachelors and a masters in science and have enjoyed teaching almost every type of science class since then! 

4. Your idea of happiness…

Sitting by, paddleboarding on, or swimming in the lake at our house in the Adirondacks with my dog splashing in the water and my family with me! World Peace wouldn’t be a bad way to top off the day, either.

5. In a nutshell, what is your definition of leadership?

There are so many ways to define leadership, but I like definitions that recognize the value of quiet leadership and active followership as much as the vocal and designated leaders. Knowing (or recognizing) what is needed and being willing to fill that role, even if it is not your ‘ideal’ position–action is an integral component of leadership. Additionally, working together with others to make those around you see themselves as key players in the cause and helping them to become better versions of themselves while working toward a common goal and the common good is also important.  

6. What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, compassion, and integrity are important to me. I want friends who are willing to tell me the truth, even if I might not want to hear it; who are striving to make themselves better; and who value and honor those around them.

7. What do you do for self-renewal?

Long walks on the prairie or hikes in the mountains with friends and/or my dog are always amazingly helpful. Summer spent by water is also a necessary recharge.

8. Who is your hero/ heroine of fiction? 

Wow, this is tough. Coming from an Environmental Science teacher hat (and because my brain is a bit fried at the end of the year), I think I’ll say the Lorax, after all – he speaks for the trees!  

9. What is your current state of mind? 

I’m a bit all over the place at the moment: amazingly proud of and a bit reticent of the next steps for my son, who just graduated high school; desperately ready for the end of the school year and a chance to reflect about the past year and to recharge for the next; and thoroughly excited to work with the Leadership Lab and add my new role as Director of Leadership at Fountain Valley School.   

Danielle has been in education for 25 years and has taught at boarding and day schools in New Hampshire, Idaho, California, and Colorado. Her early work in leadership was in roles such as student advisor, club mentor, coach, and class dean. In addition to the Leadership Lab as a participant in 2016, Danielle also attended the gcLi symposium, The Pedagogy of Leadership, in 2017 and was a presenter at the Learning to Lead: The Art and Practice of Teaching Leadership conference in 2019. One of her recent highlights include serving as the Director of Student Leadership and Service at The Derryfield School in Manchester, NH, where she created and implemented a 9th-12th grade leadership development program known as LEAD (Leadership, Ethics, and Development). All students were engaged in activities, lessons, and reflections in order to learn about leadership styles, identify their ‘homebase’ choice, and practice skills to strengthen their ability.

In 2020, Danielle relocated with her family to Fountain Valley School where she is currently serving as the Chair of the Science Department and the Director of the Capstone Experience for the seniors. She is thrilled to have just been appointed as the Director of Leadership Development and looks forward to building a 4-year program that will help all students at FVS grow into the best leaders they can be. First item on the to-do list is to define what leadership means at Fountain Valley so we can set goals and measure achievements.

Danielle made her way to Colorado for graduate school and fell in love with both the mountains and her future spouse. She is recharged by nature, loves sleeping in a tent or (even better) under the stars, and hopes to get back out on a river trip again soon! An avid traveler, she has visited all 50 states and is working on exploring all seven continents with her husband, Morgan, their children, Mayanna, Quinn, and Keira, and their Black Lab, Shadow.