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Southside Primary’s Diane Daniel retiring after 25 years of educating

Diane Daniel, a kindergarten teacher at Southside Primary, is retiring after teaching for a combined 35 years.

The school’s cafeteria was filled with her family, friends, fellow teachers and former students Friday to help her celebrate retirement. It was a surprise she wasn’t expecting.

“There’s just no words for it. I was just so greatly surprised to see the students, the parents of the students I used to have years ago. I’m just filled with emotions right now,” Daniel said.

Daniel started teaching in January of 1979. After a couple of years, she took a four-year hiatus, but she eventually returned. She has always taught in the Dallas County School System. She’s been at Five Points, Tipton, Brantley, J.E. Terry and Southside Primary, where she has been for the last 25 years.

“Educating these children has just been a life dream for me because I always wanted to be a teacher. I always wanted my children that were in my classroom to be the best they could be,” Daniel said.

With the exception of teaching reading labs, Daniel has always taught kindergarten.

“When I first got here, I wanted kindergarten, but it was all filled up, so they gave me the reading labs,” she remembered. “I taught in reading lab for about three years, and when a kindergarten position came open here, I grabbed it, and I’ve been in kindergarten ever since.”

Daniel has kept count over the years of the children she’s taught, and the tally is more than 6,000 students.

“One thing about it is I recognize them all. They don’t look like they’re kindergartens anymore. They’re grown with their own family,” Daniel said. “Those children that I’ve taught, I’ve taught their children. I call them my grandchildren, the children in my classroom now.”

Daniel will miss teaching, but she is honored to have made an impact on so many lives.

“I hope that everyone who I’ve taught that I’ve impacted their lives in some way, that they’re doing good today,” Daniel said.

“I will miss the kids. It’s been my life. Working with kids and seeing them grow as little seeds into budding plants and flowers, that’s the most enjoyment I get. They come in with little to no knowledge of reading, writing or anything, and you just watch them grow.”