This Stamford educator teaches with ‘grace, love and determination.’ That’s how she earned a national award.

STAMFORD — Stamford teacher Danielle Weber said she isn’t the kind of person who wants attention, but that hasn’t stopped others from showering her with praise.

The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering educator has amassed a group of fans out of her colleagues and former students, many of whom rave about her teaching style.

It’s one of the reasons Weber, a Bridgeport resident, was recently handed a teacher of the year award from Project Lead the Way, or PLTW, a nonprofit organization that provides STEM curriculum and training for teachers to use in classrooms.

One former student, Carlee Reid, wrote a glowing review of Weber’s classes in a letter in support of Weber’s candidacy for the award .

“She is easily the most organized and dedicated teacher I have ever encountered,” Reid wrote. “In courses with a student-driven nature such as PLTW courses, this enables us to be proactive in our planning of projects and personal events.”

Reid, who graduated last summer, has an impressive resume of her own, having self-published two books.

She had Weber as her teacher for all four years of high school, and highlighted her organizational skills. Reid wrote that Weber provided students with a day-to-day timeline for the entire first semester. She also touted Weber’s responsiveness to student questions over email, and her ability to use student’s personal interests to drive their classroom experiences.

“Mrs. Weber, knowing I am a student interested in film-making, allowed me to make short films for various projects to advance my education and my craft,” Reid wrote.

Weber, who has been at AITE for 13 years, received one of the six national teacher awards given out by PLTW this year. Specifically, she was awarded for her work in biomedical science. She has taken four intensive courses in biomedical science from PLTW, and is also a “master teacher” who conducts PLTW training sessions for other educators.

The national curriculum, which Weber employs in her classrooms, is used in programs from kindergarten to 12th grade, and is currently in more than 12,000 schools across the country, according to its website.

In broad terms, the PLTW style is more open and student-led, unlike the traditional classroom model in which the teacher actively conducts classroom activity. In the PLTW model, students are encouraged to work together to find solutions to problems, while the teacher takes on more of a facilitator role.

It’s an approach that is challenging at first for some students, Weber said, but is usually rewarding.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has been especially challenging for Weber, as shared materials are not allowed, severely limited what she can do for labs.

“A little part of me dies every day as a science teacher when I don’t get to do a lab,” Weber said.

One lab she has done in the past is on the human body, in which students work together using a two-foot mannequin. But that hasn’t been possible during the COVID-19 era. She also can’t have student do labs at home, since many of them involve hazardous materials.

“I can’t send a preserved eyeball home,” Weber said.

Instead, students were able to do many of the labs virtually, using online platforms, 3D models, and video game simulations.

Currently, Weber teaches courses on the human body system and medical intervention, as well as Advanced Placement chemistry and honors chemistry.

In her letter to PLTW, Reid not only highlighted Weber’s teaching ability, but other ways she inspired students.

“To see a woman navigate her career with such grace, love and determination just shows us female students that, despite the demographics of many STEM fields, there is a place for us and that being a woman is power in and of itself,” Reid wrote.

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com