Inspired by how valued her teachers made her feel, Dania Lee decided in second grade that she was going to be a teacher. She loved creating math tests for her friends, and in her senior year of high school she volunteered every day in a classroom at a local elementary school. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher but after a break to raise her family, she joined the SSSAS Middle School as a math teacher. Dania and husband David—who got engaged after only seeing each other eight times—have four Saints, Rainier ’18, Ashlyn ’20, Calysta ’23, and Carmyn ’25! Dania was born in sunny Southern California, the youngest of three siblings and 21 cousins. She grew up in a family that wasn’t allowed to fight, so she wrote her complaints in her diary. In Middle School her family moved to Bellevue, Washington, where they lived next door to Bellevue Square, aka “the mall,” which she says explains why she feels so comfortable at Nordstrom—her second home. Dania is energetic, kind, patient, and hard-working. She has participated on four committees; helped run the Student Council Association, the Math Club, and Penmanship Club; directed two academic summer camps; and she provides math support to the Academic Center and the Study Club. She is inspired by her students, who have taught her about grit. She admires how they just pick up, dust off, and keep on trying when they encounter something really challenging. When she needs to find peace, Dania turns to her Bible and her faith. She’s a planner. Every Sunday she bakes and cooks a ton of food that provides meals until Thursday. She’s not a quitter. She likes sitting on the sofa to binge watch shows on Netflix, and sometimes stays up until early morning to finish a season. As a teen her parents encouraged her to watch Korean dramas to learn about the culture and she still loves them. Her top three favorites are “Crash Landing on You,” “Mr. Sunshine,” and “Twenty-five Twenty-one.” And last, but not least, she is cheerful and charming. Otherwise, she would never have been allowed to join her husband’s sister and groom on their honeymoon cruise through Italy, Greece, and Turkey!
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be and why or what would you do with it? Extreme multitasking. I would do everything. At the same time.
What are you obsessed with? Skincare. I wear sunscreen every day even though my classroom has no windows.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful? My husband. I never dreamed I would get to be married to a man who I respect and admire more than anyone and who loves me as much as he does. I’m crazy about him!
If you had a million dollars in the bank, what would you be doing? I’d stop worrying about how to pay for putting four kids through college and then pay for their weddings.
What is something one of your parents said that you will never forget? We were rolling kimbap (Korean rice rolls) and mine turned out too loose. My mom said, “They taste better when they are loose like that.” I rolled the next one so tight it was about to burst, and my mom said, “They look so pretty when they are rolled tight like that!” I could do no wrong in her eyes.
What was one of your funniest moments at SSSAS? My first year of teaching, I had a class of seventh grade boys who were a rowdy bunch, but also hilarious. A couple of times, I knew I was supposed to scold them, but I couldn’t stop laughing. I tried so hard to hide that I was laughing, I put my hand on the board but my shoulders were shaking. One of them said, “Look what you did. You made her cry!”