What Eastside Catholic High School teacher has attended six colleges to date, lives a mile away from Eastside’s campus, is blind in her left eye but still watches Fringe and Battle Star Galactica in her spare time, and starred in a random movie titled Get to Know Your Yo? Mrs. Maletta, Eastside’s beloved high school math and SAT prep teacher as well as last year’s recipient of the Teacher of the Year award is well-known for her enthusiasm, affability, humor, and engaging and effective teaching style. But perhaps she is less well-known for such things as having almost majored in physics instead of math and having been “painfully quiet and shy” through most of her high school experience.
Danielle Maletta was born on the 26th of January, 1977, in Kirkland, Washington and raised in what is now Klahanie. Growing up, Mrs. Maletta attended Issaquah High School, where she did, in fact, “turn bright red” out of bashfulness whenever someone talked to her. Yet considering that she is now so admired for her constant enthusiasm, one would wonder what triggered this complete change in her personality.
At age 17, Mrs. Maletta’s mother died, leaving herself, her father, and her two little brothers. To say the least, her mother’s death was devastating and extremely challenging for herself and her whole family. Yet as she related this life-altering event, Mrs. Maletta seemed to be remarkably at peace with the subject. She said, “It made me realize life was too short to worry about how people thought of me.” Rather than retreating further into herself as many people in her situation would do, she had the strength to move past such a hardship early in her life, becoming the enthusiastic, self-giving person she is admired for today.
Mrs. Maletta went on to eventually major in math at Houghton College in New York. She later received her teaching certificate at Western Washington University, and is currently studying for her masters in math education at Evergreen College to “be the best teacher possible.” When asked what she loves about math, Mrs. Maletta responded, “Math is beautiful, logical, and has one answer.” In stating her reason for going into teaching, Mrs. Maletta said, “As corny as this sounds, I wanted to impact the world.”
“I want students to feel like math class is relevant, fun, and thoroughly prepares them for college,” said Mrs. Maletta. Now, at Eastside, she seems to be doing just that. Cami Silverman, a senior at Eastside who has now had Mrs. Maletta for two math classes, described Mrs. Maletta as being approachable, personable, positive, very funny, and passionate about what she does. She also mentioned that Mrs. Maletta is accommodating yet challenging, articulate in her explanations, and extremely knowledgeable not just in math itself, but in various ways to help students learn it. In response to Mrs. Maletta’s Teacher of the Year award, Cami said, “She totally deserved it. She puts in so many extra hours out of her own time to help students learn the material.”
There is no doubt that Mrs. Maletta’s coworkers think just as highly of her, though some are less apt to articulate their admiration. Mrs. Judith Petersen has worked closely with Mrs. Maletta for three years now, and her own sense of humor and friendly competition is certainly comparable Mrs. Maletta’s. In sarcastic jest, Mrs. Petersen said the following of Mrs. Maletta: “Mrs. Maletta is a lot of trouble; she’s had a big head ever since she won teacher of the year. When I first met her, I suspected that she was a hell’s angel; now I know she is. I’ve heard more profanities in her class than I have ever heard in my life! Her class seems much too easy, way too gentle; she doesn’t give nearly enough homework.” When asked to choose three words that describe her, Mrs. Petersen said, “Irreverent, nasty, and easy.” In fact, when asked if there is anything she would like to know about Mrs. Maletta, Mrs. Petersen responded, “I’m much too scared to know anything more; I don’t think I want to open that can of worms.”
Humor aside, Mrs. Maletta’s outgoing and unique personality as well as her various tattoos might strike someone as being slightly hell’s angels-esque –that is, until you ask her their significance. She indeed is notorious for her borderline-crude but always classroom-appropriate humor, which engages her students all the more. With a family comprising of “one little brother who’s a red neck, another little brother who’s metro-sexual married to a broncos cheerleader,” a father who is a national mountain biker, and a step mother with whom she hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye, Mrs. Maletta said that “I feel like the Eastside Catholic community is the supportive family that I don’t have in my immediate family.” Her involvement in various school functions like Destiny and the Math lab clearly show her commitment, and she said that the Esperanza mission trip was “one of the best experiences that I got to share with my husband as well as the students at Eastside.” Though she is convinced that the “bro mafia” played a role in her nomination for the Teacher of the Year award, she was flattered albeit embarrassed, felt “rewarded for all her hard work,” and was pleased that so many students, like Cami Silverman, have recognized it.
Later in life, Mrs. Maletta may go into education politics or even to teaching teachers how to teach, “as pompous as that sounds.” But for now, Mrs. Maletta is loving her career at Eastside, wants to continue to be happy in her life, and is committed to being “the best wife, friend, and teacher” she can be.