Danika Vallier Inspires Lake Ridge Scholars Through STEM

Danika Vallier headshot

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Before Lake Ridge Elementary Fifth Grade Science & Math scholars enter Danika Vallier’s classroom, they are greeted by several facts like “It takes eight minutes for light to reach earth from the sun” and “the average person eats 430 bugs each year.”

These are not just random facts but information that comes in handy when it’s time for STAAR Testing.

“We break down the test and what you need to do with the information,” said Vallier, Lake Ridge Elementary’s CHISD STEM Teacher of the Year finalist. “We pull out the nouns, adjectives, and verbs and focus on what we need to do.”

Vallier is in her first year at Lake Ridge after teaching at two Austin districts.

A Cedar Hill citizen, Vallier, and her husband chose CHISD because of Lake Ridge’s Montessori program. Both of her children—one in Pre-K and one in Kindergarten—are enrolled in that Choice program.

“The Choice program sold us,” Vallier said.

As soon as Vallier knew her children would attend Lake Ridge, she was eager to work in the district.

A graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Vallier is in charge of planning LRE’s STEM Night.

She introduces “real-world life experiences” to her scholars, including ecosystems and soil.

“It’s important to learn STEM in a society where technology drives everything – we set the scholars up for careers we don’t even know exist yet,” said Vallier, currently working on a Master’s Degree in Experience Design from Western Governors University.

The CHISD STEM Teacher of the Year will be announced at the Leadership & Service Awards on May 9. Vallier said she’ll use the $5,000 campus prize money to renew the LRE Garden if she wins.

“We want to rebuild it and to sell and harvest what we grow,” Vallier said. “We want to give back to the Cedar Hill community that has given us so much.”

Vallier plans on using the $5,000 personal prize money mostly for STEM-related professional development.