Dr. Celeste McDaniels, Ph.D.
Dr. Celeste McDaniels, Ph.D.
We were very excited to welcome Dr. Celeste Jamison McDaniels, Ph.D. as the associate director of Upper School and chemistry teacher this year. Her colleagues describe her as thoughtful, honest, diligent, super-smart, perceptive, funny. She jumped into her new job without hesitation, and joined both the steering committee for Antiracist Programming and the Faculty of Color Affinity group. Celeste has dedicated her working life to education, teaching on the collegiate, middle, and upper school levels. She loves when her students ask probing questions, and confides that they have taught her patience, to love them for who they are, and to always give them all of her support and encouragement. Being in a school community that loves each other’s company, as well as serving locally, is very important to Celeste. She volunteers at church, with a food donation program, as an evaluator and scholarship applicant reader, and also helps raise funds for underprivileged students and women’s health. She is happiest seeing the cumulation of her hard work benefit others. Celeste started life on the Ft. Bragg military base and grew up to marry an active duty Army officer, Myron, who is a pediatric doctor. She and Myron were married in her childhood church, St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine, the same church President Joe Biden attends in Wilmington, Del. She moved 10 times in 26 years, including two stints in Seoul, South Korea, but she still loves to travel! Celeste puts her all into every endeavor and has received four military awards for her dedication to helping improve the lives of military families. Celeste’s favorite thing in the world is hanging out with her family—daughter Amanda, a treasury management analyst, and son Ian, a freshman at Cornell University, and spending time with her 95-year-old grandfather, because they keep her grounded. Celeste enjoys Pilates and has recently taken up needlepoint. To unwind, she likes listening to R&B love songs, taking her goldendoodle, Moose, on walks with Myron, and watching suspense and sci-fi movies. Her favorites include the “Predator,” “Star Trek,” and “Blade.” Whew, scary! On the quirky side, she admits to wearing animated earrings to class every day when she taught middle school (favoring farm animals and food), and she and her kids have matching moles on their feet, arms, and neck! Her greatest accomplishment? Raising her beautiful children and being married to her best friend for nearly 27 years.
What is your most treasured object and why?
A green jade bracelet and ring given to me by my paternal grandmother, Phyllis. She passed the year of my wedding, and it felt like fate that she stayed on this Earth long enough to see me get married.
What is the biggest adventure you’ve had in your life?
Traveling to the Great Barrier Reef and swimming with barracudas and sharks in Australia; riding an elephant in Thailand; walking on the Great Wall in China; and watching wild animals in their natural habitat in South Africa.
What makes you feel like a kid again?
Getting a Slurpee at 7-Eleven.
What helps you persevere when you feel like giving up?
My parents, based on the sacrifices they have endured and what they expect from me.
When did you first really feel like an adult?
When I bought my first home and earned my master’s degree at age 25, I looked in the mirror and told myself how proud I was.
What is something interesting about you that almost no one knows?
I ministered to prisoners in a federal penitentiary as part of a Catholic ministry.