The California Teacher of the Year!!!

The California Teacher of the Year is in Desert Hot Springs!
Nestled against the mountains amongst our many scenic views lies Painted Hills Middle School. The school is home to nearly 1000 middle school students, and boasts a rare jewel of an instructor. Dr. Brian McDaniel is the reigning 2018 California Teacher of the Year and a National Teacher of the Year Nominee, and Desert Hot Springs….he is ours!!! Recently, he and I were able to connect about the journey that led him from DHS to the National spotlight.

‘Teacher of the year, quite the accomplishment, congratulations!!! The process couldn’t have been easy. Would you mind sharing the process with us?’

He replied, “[It’s like] The Hunger Games, LOL. It’s a multi-step, high stress process that takes a long time.”
• 2017 Painted Hills Middle School Teacher of the Year (1:33 Teachers)
• 2017 Palm Springs Teacher of the Year (1:2,000 Teachers)
• 2018 Riverside County Teacher of the Year (1:20,000 Teachers; more teachers than 15 of the smallest states).
• 2018 California Teacher of the Year (1: 330,000 Teachers; largest state in the country)
• 2018 National Teacher of the Year Nominee (55:3,400,000 Teachers nationwide)
• 2019 Global Teacher of the Year Nominee (TBD; March 2019), I was nominated and submitted my application.

‘Why did you choose teaching as a profession?’

“I became a teacher so that I could help other children in the way that my teachers helped me. An outstanding teacher lives a life without limits in the pursuit of making the world a better place. A child should always leave our room with something more than they had when they arrived. Every student has unique talents and needs. As teachers, we constantly learn from our students; perhaps the greatest lesson that I continue to learn from mine is the need to be flexible in order to ensure every student’s needs are met.”

‘Concerning teaching, what is your personal mission statement?’

“My personal mission and teaching philosophy center around identifying my students’ passions and unique talents to ensure that they develop that capacity. As a teacher, there is no limit to my drive to ensure the growth, success, and assurance for future happiness of the children in my care.”

His bio is equally extensive and impressive. From his website ( :

“Dr. Brian McDaniel, a 2018 California Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Nominee, is a music educator who has raised over $1,000,000 through grants, donations, sponsorships, and fundraisers to ensure access for every child in his program. As an educator for 12 years, he has successfully built award winning Elementary, Middle and High Schools music programs, serves in Leadership with various school and teacher organizations, and is an Educational Justice Advocate who is passionate about helping students overcome obstacles through academic opportunities. Choosing to serve in a Title I schools, he founded The Regiment, his student-led music organization that serves as a safety net for students; helping kids to overcome the trials of school and life. The Regiment continuously improves school climate and academic performance by living up to their motto of rising “Beyond All Expectations”.

‘Teacher of the year is HUGE for DHS; how do you feel your award has impacted our city?’

“I hope it is a sense of Town Pride. I grew up in DHS and choose to work in DHS to serve my community, my family, and my home. Mayor Matas named April 5th “Dr. Brian McDaniel Day” and named the street in front of my school “Dr. Brian McDaniel Way”. I love DHS and I can feel the town’s support each step of this incredible journey.”

‘What does “Teacher of the Year” mean to DHS in your opinion?’

I hope it is a sense of Town Pride. I grew up in DHS and choose to work in DHS to serve my community, my family, my home. Mayor Matas named April 5th “Dr. Brian McDaniel Day” and named the street in front of my school “Dr. Brian McDaniel Way”. I love DHS and I can feel the town’s support each step of this incredible journey.

‘Obviously a credible voice in the education world, what makes DHS unique in terms of education? Any challenges? Advantages?’

“As a lifelong resident (a true homegrown hero) I was determined to provide the same lifeline that saved me. I founded The Regiment, a student-led musical organization to help children overcome the issues in their lives and serve as a safety net to ensure they have every opportunity to lead successful lives. Many students find refuge from the daily challenges in my music room, while others learn to appreciate all that life has to offer. Yet, all my students know they belong to a community that values, loves, and respects them.”

‘What does DHS mean to you?’

“DHS is my home. I believe that where ever my feet are planted is the center of the universe, meaning I want to continue to build, educate, and support making Desert Hot Springs the Greatest City in the World.”

Dr. McDaniel is well accomplished, he has compiled one of the most impressive resumes of achievement I have ever seen.

Awards & Nominations:

-Global Teachers Prize Nominee. 2018.
-Grammy Music Educator Award Nominee. 2018.
-Life Changer of the Year Nominee. 2018.
-Street Naming: Dr. Brian McDaniel Way, City of Desert Hot Springs. 2018
-National Teacher of the Year Nominee. 2018.
-California Teacher of the Year. 2018.
-Riverside County Teacher of the Year. 2018.
-Mayoral Proclamation: Dr. Brian McDaniel Day, City of Desert Hot Springs. 2017.
-Palm Springs Unified School District, High School Teacher of the Year. 2017.
-Painted Hills Middle School Teacher of the Year. 2017.
-Big Heart Award: Middle School Teacher of the Year, Desert Hot Springs Rotary. 2016.
-Palm Springs Unified School District, High School Teacher of the Year. 2014.
-Desert Hot Springs High School, Teacher of the Year. 2014.

Thank you Dr. McDaniel, you are truly a gem within our city. Thank you for Advancing DHS!

Posted in ,

More From Advancing Desert Hot Springs...

A Teacher’s Perspective & Beyond!

By Kephyan Sheppard | June 28, 2020

As the 2nd semester of the school year got underway, I’m sure most of our educators were beginning to set plans for the summer. Vacations, completing ‘to do’ lists, and rest were more than likely prioritized. Fast forward to March, and COVID19 became the dominant thought, causing many of them to scrap lesson plans and…

This Graduating Class is Something Special!

By Kephyan Sheppard | May 23, 2020

As we shift gears and begin to prepare for the return of some normalcy, it can’t be understated enough that for some normal may never return. For some the opportunity to take part in once-in-a-lifetime events has been taken away. Our graduation plans, especially for our high school students have unfortunately become casualties to unintended…

Family Engagement Center

By Kephyan Sheppard | April 27, 2020

From ’91-96, I lived here in DHS for the final year of middle school and a majority of my High School Years. I was one of many students who were transported via public transportion from our city to Raymond Cree Middle and Palm Springs High. I may be dating myself, but my school years as…

Little League Baseball

By Kephyan Sheppard | April 4, 2020

Opening day across the Nation has been postponed. COVID-19 has impacted nearly every area of our lives, and even our National past time has taken a blow. With Major League spring ball season at a standstill, our own local Little League program is also influx. Little League baseball has been a fixture in our community…

We are in this TOGETHER!!!

By Kephyan Sheppard | March 19, 2020

Admittedly, this edition is a few days late. Several times I began typing and several times what I typed, I deleted. A week ago, our website received anonymous note asking if I would address COVID-19 and the outpouring of fear and concern that has swept throughout our city. With the increasing numbers of those affected…


By Kephyan Sheppard | February 28, 2020

Desert Hot Springs Celebrates Black History Month! As you drive into the city across gene Autry from the freeway, you will notice a distinct lighting pattern across the palm trees. Thanks to our city staff, our trees have been adorned with red, yellow, and green lighting to commemorate Black History Month. Black History Month is…

Watch Them Soar: DHS High

By Kephyan Sheppard | February 8, 2020

DHS High should be celebrated! Not only because it’s a great school, but because of the innovative approaches that Principal Cota and her staff employ daily. Over the course of the last year I have witnessed academic excellence, school pride, and exemplary professionalism from students and staff. However, I have now become aware of some…

DHS Celebrates Dr. King!

By Kephyan Sheppard | January 23, 2020

He stood for equality, he marched for peace, he died sharing the vision of a day that he knew he would never see in his lifetime…Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a true hero. This weekend as hundreds of thousands of people marched and celebrated his legacy worldwide, you were able to catch a glimpse…

The Ophelia Project

By Kephyan Sheppard | January 4, 2020

Imagine a program that aims to help young girls achieve all they can in life, one that meets them right where they are and is committed to ‘rescuing their potential’. That program does exist, it is called The Ophelia Project. After years of operating on campuses throughout the Valley, the program will officially launch through…


By Kephyan Sheppard | November 25, 2019

Youth sports are a staple in every growing city. The notion that we must keep our youth busy year round is one that is well received nationwide. Here in DHS, our Junior All American Football and Cheer program has proven to be a successful model of consistency for our youth, but has also served as…