CLAYMONT — Like many parents. Danyele Dove had to sacrifice time with her daughter, Gabby, because of work. For the past three years, however, mother and daughter have had plenty of quality time together.
“Not only is she my mother, but an amazing mentor to any student here today,” Gabby wrote in her nomination. “She continues to share her knowledge on the world with all of us and is a light here at Archmere.”
Danyele is happy to hear that her daughter likes having her around.
“When we got to Archmere, it was great for me,” Dove said. “She started her freshman year. It was my first year here at Archmere, so driving here and driving home, and just being able to be here for events, there’s no excuse.
“It’s a blessing for me.”
Dove’s background is in social work. She started her career as a school social worker on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland before moving to southeastern Pennsylvania for family reasons. In the Philadelphia public school system, she helped in juvenile justice with children with a range of backgrounds.
“I love blending the counseling and resources. As a social worker, you’re not really focused mainly on the counseling side. You’re getting the resources for families to help them become self-sufficient. It kind of led into counseling,” she said.
Dove also liked how resource allocation mixed with mental health, not just “the science of the brain,” but finding out how to motivate students to get to “the next level.”
During the course of the covid pandemic, Dove has seen an increase in mental health challenges at Archmere, in anxiety and depression. The school had always acknowledged its students’ issues, but families normally handled that outside of the school, she continued. Dove helps those students navigate back to normalcy or a new normal.
Dove’s other role is with diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s a relatively new initiative at Archmere. She arrived at the school in 2020, just after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota and before the 2020 elections.
“Our students were really sensitive to that, very conscious and aware of what was happening and wanted us to address it as a school. So, it allowed them to be the voice,” she said.
More than 40 students, mostly girls, are trained to be racial and social justice facilitators through a program developed by the YWCA. This year, 10 Archmere students teamed with another eight from Mount Pleasant High School as the program continues to grow.
In the DEI program, students have discussed implicit bias, visited Legislative Hall in Dover and talked with politicians “about how to make law around social justice issues,” Dove said. The group hosted its first mental health and DEI conference this year, and Dove hopes that grows in coming years.
She also said she doesn’t want DEI to be all about race. “It really is who you are as a person. I’m just trying to amplify our students’ voices and make sure that they feel healthy as they go forth in life.”
When Dove arrived as a staff member three years ago, it was a homecoming of sorts. She graduated from the school in 1993. She is not Catholic, but she attended the School of the Holy Child in Delaware County, Pa., before coming to Archmere. She always thought she would follow her friends to their high schools in Pennsylvania, but her mother had other plans.
“I’m thankful,” Dove said. “I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go to school with all my school friends. She wanted me to have something different. And there really is nothing like it.”
One of her favorite things about Archmere is Mass. “The one time I never felt ‘other’ was at Mass because the message was universal. It’s about love, about hope and humanity, about service. It was always an opportunity to learn and get a moment to be with God and be with others and not feel different.”
Dove’s role at Archmere is the latest in a wide-ranging career. She was a school social worker after graduating from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. In addition to working in the Philadelphia public school system, she worked for the Christian Brothers, then for the nonprofit Resources for Human Development in Philadelphia. She also directed the career center at Harcum College. Along the way, she earned a master’s from the University of Maryland.
She believes Archmere has been the best experience of them all so far.
“It’s a different world, it really is,” she said. “We have every different belief in here, but we don’t fight. We’re being respectful.”