Leaders in Early Education: Danielle Freilich

This week we’re thrilled to feature Danielle Freilich, co-President of the Young Professionals Committee at Success Academy, who recently started a new educational podcast for parents called No Silly Questions.

Tell us about your background – what brought you to the world of education?

Frankly, I wasn’t the little girl who grew up playing teacher and arranging her stuffed animals as dutiful students! Teaching is now my favorite thing to do in the world, but it wasn’t immediately apparent that it would be my life’s work. My interest in education came from a passion for social justice and a deep belief that quality education is a fundamental human right. Selfishly, I also love learning and have a very curious nature, so a career that would allow me to be a life-long learner sounded super fun!
You are co-President of the Young Professionals Committee at Success Academy. How has this impacted your work as a leader in Education?
I taught at the Success Academy Charter Network for many years and eventually became a principal of one of our middle schools in the Bronx. When I left to support schools and administrators across the country, I wanted to find a way to continue to stay close to my roots and contribute to the organization that had nurtured me. I have loved leading our Young Professionals Committee and engaging the next generation of philanthropists in conversations around education reform. I think that many New Yorkers want to find a way to get involved with, and give back to, their local communities and find it surprisingly hard to do so.
A big part of Clay’s mission is to catch behavioral and developmental concerns at the earliest onset of symptoms. What steps do you think schools can take to prioritize behavioral health from an early age?
I think schools are in a unique position to notice outlier behavior, because they have a frame of reference, from the sheer size of the student population they encounter each day, that parents simply do not have. Administrators should set as an expectation that teachers escalate concerns for any child in their care, and these concerns be brought to the family for discussion. Depending on the type of concern, schools should have a rolodex to make specialist referrals, whether they be in-house faculty or outside providers.

How can a platform like Clay help schools serve their families’ behavioral and developmental needs?

The truth is schools are often overwhelmed with all of their mandates – now more than ever, in a post-covid reality! And sometimes, even with the best of intentions, issues can slip through the cracks. Clay is a reliable and accessible alternative for parents to find support and community, and an incredibly powerful partner to give any parent peace of mind.

You recently started a new podcast “No Silly Questions” with Jordan Fruchter that we also featured on the blog (congratulations!). Tell us more!
No Silly Questions is an Education Podcast for Parents and true labor of love! Jordana, my co-host, and I noticed how often our friends were calling us with education-related questions for their kids, and so we decided to capture our answers, bring on experts to weigh in, and create a trustworthy one-stop shop for all things learning, development and school! Wondering what the difference between Montessori and Reggio-Emilia pedagogy is? There’s an episode for that! Wondering about the value of educational toys vs. loose parts found in your home? There’s an episode for that too! And so on…
Who are your inspirations in early childhood education and why?
Magical teachers are my inspiration. I am moved to tears when I observe a teacher, so absolutely in his or her flow state, bringing life to a curriculum, warmth to a classroom, and empowerment to each and every child.

To learn more about Success Academy, visit their website here.