CSMCE | Profiles

Danielle Inserra hands a paper to a student

Danielle Inserra

Primarily Math

Elementary Mathematics Coach
Papillion-La Vista School District

She hasn’t always loved math, Danielle Inserra admits.

Then she faced her fear. More than five years ago, the Papillion-La Vista Public Schools teacher joined her school’s math curriculum toolbox committee and, later, in 2009, became a member of the first cohort of Primarily Math.

After teaching second- and third-grade students for 10 years, Inserra became a math coach at Patriot Elementary. Now, she is coach for both Walnut Creek and La Vista West Elementary Schools. Inserra decided to transition to a coaching position because of her enjoyment helping students begin to grow to love math.

“I realized math wasn’t all about finding a correct answer and memorizing facts and formulas. Math is about discovering, investigating, making connections between mathematical concepts, and solving problems using different strategies to gain a deeper understanding,” she said.

“I changed the way I taught math and saw an incredible change in my students’ level of understanding and their enthusiasm for math grew. I was excited about math, and therefore, my students were also excited about math. It was evident each day when students would ask to skip recess to continue learning math!” Inserra added.

Inserra heard about the Primarily Math program from colleagues at the PLSD office.

“They were excited about the grant and research opportunity that our district was going to be a part of,” Inserra said. “I decided to apply because of my love for teaching math and desire to learn more. I’m always looking for ways to improve and become a better teacher. I wanted to learn all I could about being a successful math teacher.”

Inserra has worked for the Papillion-La Vista School District her entire teaching career.

As a coach, Inserra said, “I work together with the teachers, the principal and the literacy coach to plan math lessons, provide professional development, attend PLC meetings, model and co-teach lessons and provide support to all teachers.”

“I enjoyed teaching Danielle in MATH 802P this past summer and getting to know her. She brings great strengths to her new position as a math coach. I believe she will have a significant impact on teaching and learning math at Patriot,” said Jim Lewis.

Hailing from Springfield, Neb., Inserra graduated from Platteview High School, and received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She and her husband, Sam, have three children, Callie, Skylar and Blayke. She and Sam met when Danielle was a freshman at Platteview, and they have been married for more than 10 years.

Inserra looks forward to using the leadership skills she learned through Primarily Math to help teachers who are apprehensive to learn to take a risk and teach math in an investigative, “backward” approach.

“The relationships and networks I’ve formed with teachers and experts across the state are priceless. I would highly recommend the program, and I am very proud to have been part of such an amazing learning experience,” Inserra said.