Student Spotlights

Daniel Dethrow

Daniel Dethrow

Daniel Dethrow

Ph.D. in History of Education

From struggling musician to award-winning Associate Instructor. 

It was the summer of 2005. Daniel was living in New Orleans and playing music. Actually, he was working part-time jobs during the day and playing clubs at night. The club gigs did not pay the bills, and he needed more income. He thought about substitute teaching at the schools around his neighborhood. How difficult could it be? He visited two neighborhood schools to inquire about becoming a substitute teacher. The teachers were very candid when they described the school environment, including the challenges. This was the New Orleans public school system, and frankly, they didn’t think he would make it.

Daniel understood that the teachers’ comments were shared with his best interest in mind. The conversations played over and over in his mind, and he found himself with more questions than answers. “Why are school environments so different? How are students impacted by their school environments?” Then Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and he returned to Missouri and his undergraduate studies. With a growing interest in school inequality, he decided to get some firsthand experience. He became a teaching assistant for two years at a Montessori school.

He added a minor in History to his music performance undergraduate degree and began to consider graduate school. He researched graduate programs in American Studies and History. Friends suggested that he investigate the Indiana University School of Education program in the History of Education. Another friend had studied music in Bloomington and spoke highly of his experience. Dan decided to check out the school in person. He arrived in Bloomington not having made any arrangements to meet with faculty, tour the campus or visit with students. He showed up in the office one day and was introduced to Dr. Warren. “I was naïve about the process of applying to grad school. Dr. Warren met with me on the spot and introduced me to some graduate students who took me out to coffee.”

He was accepted to the master’s degree program and then to the Ph.D. program. As part of the doctoral program, he was required to teach undergraduate courses. Once he overcame some initial jitters about teaching, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “With an average of 25 students in the class, I got to know them quite well.” The teaching responsibilities kept him grounded even during the most stressful parts of his program. “Since everyone was working toward becoming a teacher, it offered a different dynamic than I would have experienced in other programs.” In May 2013, he received an Outstanding Associate Instructor award.

Daniel also served for two years as President of the School of Education’s Graduate Student Association. The student group had only started a year before he got involved. He believes the organization serves a vital role in creating opportunities for graduate students from various programs to interact and engage in professional development activities.

He forged lasting friendships with people from the U.S. and abroad. Professor Serafin Coronel-Molina grew up in the Andes in Peru and now teaches in the Language, Culture, and Language Education Department. One of his roommates is from Thailand. He found it very interesting to learn how many people came to Bloomington from various places in the world and what brought them here.

Daniel finished his course work and left Bloomington to conduct research for his dissertation. He plans to complete his Ph.D. program in two years. His career goal is to earn a faculty position at a teaching college.

Thank you, New Orleans, for inspiring a talented musician to become a gifted educator.