Whitt named Apple Distinguished Educator
MADISON – When a conglomerate like Apple Inc. takes notice, rest assured you’re doing a good job. Apple has selected Daniel Whitt as an Apple Distinguished Educator.
Whitt teaches broadcasting and works as media specialist, concentrating on digital media, at James Clemens High School.
The Apple award recognizes teachers in grades K-12 who incorporate its products in innovative ways inside and outside the classroom.
Whitt was required to write a lengthy essay with multiple prompts and submit a two-minute video. From thousands of North American applicants, judges selected only 75 people. Beth Sanders, Whitt’s partner in the education non-profit Youth Converts Culture, also will represent Alabama.
“My work is constantly focused on bridging the gap between technology and humanity for our youth,” Whitt said. His strategy ranges from “bombarding the Internet with humanitarian videos … to teaching youth to build lifelong connections outside the walls of the school.”
However, his goal never changes “to empower youth to grow, communicate and learn in a way congruent to who they really are at their root: global citizens connected to the world as pioneering digital natives.”
Whitt earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Mississippi. He then attended School of Audio Engineering in Manhattan. Returning to Alabama, he completed a master’s degree in secondary education.
After one semester at Athens Middle School, Whitt then taught at Liberty Middle School for two years before joining the James Clemens staff.
With her work in Queens, N.Y., his wife Jennifer inspired him to teach. “I watched her truly affect young people’s lives,” Whitt said. She now teaches drama and English at Athens middle.
From all students, Whitt especially remembers Miles Blackwell, then an eighth-grader at Athens middle. “He passed away tragically last year in a car accident. He was a special young man and a tortured soul from early on.”
Miles challenged Whitt “to consider his point of view. I carry Miles with me each day as I move further and further into this journey.”
The Whitts have two children, Stella and Silas.