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Oconee County Middle School teacher Daniela McLean, who was born in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish, has been named the school’s Teacher of the Year.

McLean teaches English as a second language.

She said that both of her parents and her four sisters immigrated to the Oconee area with her when she was 18 months old, and her mother knew English while her father initially did not. McLean often served as an “interpreter” for her family members. 

She attended school in the county until her senior year of high school, when she moved elsewhere in Georgia. 

McLean explained that although her bachelor’s degree certified her to teach ESOL, she actually started her career teaching math and science—first math at a fifth grade level and then math and science at a middle school level. 

“After my first year, I stuck with middle school because I couldn’t imagine not teaching middle school.”

She later married her husband from the Athens area, and their child began attending school in Oconee. McLean wanted to get a job in OCS, and her persistence paid off when she landed the job at OCMS, where she started teaching English language learners math and science before expanding to a broader array of subjects. 

McLean shared that the job allows her to take her experiences and empathize with her students.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 10 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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