Growing up in Hamlin, N.Y., Suzanne (Olney) Dailey, B.S.'01, learned gratitude and happiness from the example her mother, Beverly, set. Now, through her podcasts and an upcoming book, Suzanne is sharing her mother’s wisdom with teachers right when they need it most.
Around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzanne was caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer's disease; working as an instructional coach in Pennsylvania’s Central Bucks School District; and raising her two children with her husband, Patrick. The days were often challenging, and she began looking for strategies to help her cope.
These strategies became the foundation for her podcast, “Teach Happier,” which she launched in November 2020. Her first episode, “Act the Way You Want to Feel,” suggested that making small changes in the way you approach tasks or people would lead to greater happiness and peace.
Immediately, she recognized the need for this kind of advice.
“When I started getting some really nice feedback, I could quickly see that this wasn’t a local, statewide, or even nationwide issue,” she said, noting that she has listeners from 36 countries. “Teachers were hungry for something really quick, something manageable that actually bordered on underwhelming.”
So she began to read, research, and “connect with really smart people” to find inspiration for future episodes.
“I think there’s a lot of motivational stuff out there, but there’s very few things that are targeted specifically for those in education,” she said. She explained that once she chooses a theme, she presents it in a way that resonates with anyone working in schools, from administrators to support staff, “because they’re all equally important.”
The podcast, now in its third season, offers weekly five-minute episodes that include a short story and a strategy for a small shift in thought, language, or action that educators can incorporate in their lives to make a positive impact both at school and at home.
“I try to honor the teacher outside of the classroom,” she said.
In her podcasts, Suzanne often draws on the life lessons her mother taught her, but it was the episode called “Be Like Beverly,” which garnered the most feedback. In it, Suzanne shared the way her mother lived her life in abundance and gratitude, even with Alzheimer’s disease
“Positive psychologists say that the one happiness practice is gratitude,” Suzanne noted. “So I shared the story of my mom and her journey in Alzheimer’s, and how, as her mental capacity weakened, the very last thing she held onto was gratitude.”
Suzanne also writes a monthly blog and is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops. She also has written her first book, “Teach Happier this School Year: 40 Weeks of Inspiration and Reflection,” a journal that follows a similar format to the podcast, with stories and suggested shifts to incorporate at home or at school. Organized in four 10-week sections to mimic a typical school year, the book offers strategies to implement and opportunities to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.
Scheduled to be published in January 2023 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, “Teach Happier” combines Suzanne’s passion for education with her love of writing, which was nurtured during her days on Monteagle Ridge in the classrooms of Dr. Rita Pollard and Dr. William Martin. She says her professors and the values she learned while at Niagara allowed her to find her passion and her purpose, which is to help others by carrying on her mother’s legacy.
“Even though my mom was never a teacher, she was the best teacher I could have had,” she said, “and now she continues to teach others.”