Our Favorite Journalism Teacher: Mr. DeNight


Mr. DeNight reviews a final draft of a journalism student Danelly Rodriguez.

By Keilly Martinez, Staff Writer

Mr. DeNight, or Dr. DeNight to some, is a hardworking teacher who is loved by many students. Have you ever thought and wondered who he is? 

Life at school 

     Before teaching at Miami High, Mr. DeNight taught at private school called Columbus Catholic for one year, and at Edison High School for 16 years.  Mr. DeNight has been teaching at Miami High for 20 years. He loves how Miami High teachers always say that the students here are special.  

    He states, “In a lot of high schools it can be very scary because there’s a lot of bullies and fighting, but Miami High has been a very well-run school where students take things seriously to make it a better place of learning.” 

   Teaching for Mr. DeNight is entertaining because he has to keep the students’ attention, but in another way, it is crowd control, learning how to manage big groups of people.  

   He explained, “Like in a way that police officers are called in to control a crowd or like Disney World when arranging the lines for the ride. You have to have a lot of organization in each lesson to lead kids from one step to another.” 

    For the first day of school, he starts off by telling the students to write their names on name plates so he can start calling them by their names. He stated, “I feel like if you can call someone by their name, you can make a personal connection with them, and they’re inclined to be more respectful to you because you’re respectful to them.” He thinks that if the student senses that you do not know them, then they secretly might disrespect you because you are disrespecting them. 

   Mr. DeNight really likes his job. He finds that because a teachers get a lot of days off, he always manages to reenergize from one school year to the next. He stated, “I do not feel like the job tires me out in a way that people who want to retire feel tired. I feel more energized. I do not think I will retire for quite a while. I will at least wait until I am 67 years old which will be in 8 years.” 



    Mr. DeNight has four brothers, and even though they fought a lot as kids, they still loved being around each other. He got his first job when he was fourteen as a bus boy in a restaurant. He loved making his own money and having his own independence. 

   He also thinks about his parents a lot since they both passed away and made so many sacrifices, financially and with their time, since they both gave their five children a lot of attention.   

   Now that Mr. DeNight is older, he values that time when he was around them. “My mom was a very good cook so I like remembering my mom in the kitchen,” he said. “I like how whenever I had friends over, my mom would always feed them.”  

   Mr. DeNight’s parents were young when they got married. Then they had five kids and that was a lot of pressure for them. His parents had marriage trouble. Through Mr. DeNight’s teenage years their marriage got worse, and they eventually separated.  

    Although his dad was a good provider and a good dad, the reason for their separation was because he was a big drinker and that bothered his mom. “Seeing that in my teenage years was hard,” he stated. 

     Mr. DeNight did not really consider what he wanted to be when he was growing up until he got his first job. He worked for the Dade County Park department as a summer recreation counselor, which was one of his best jobs. He then discovered that he was effective when working with children.  

   “I had second-grade boys, and I was their counselor for the summer, and I learned that I was really good at keeping them busy and interested,” he said. “It was a long hot Miami summer, but we played outside for around 8 hours a day.” Mr. DeNight respected his boss because he showed up to work in tennis clothes every day and always seemed to be in a good mood. That made him think that you do not really need a big office job to be happy. 


  When Mr. DeNight was a senior in his last semester at FIU, he had the opportunity to work for an international airline called PanAm. He left school for two weeks to complete the training because it would give him a chance to travel all over the world, but they did not offer him a job after training. He stated, “That is something that I think I would have enjoyed, a job that would allow for travel.” Another job he would have liked was being a journalist, working for a newspaper, or magazine, and writing stories. 



    Before getting married and having his own children, Mr. DeNight used to travel every summer. He visited India and Nepal. He went to Europe four different times and drove across the United States three times. When he married and became a dad, he did not travel as much, but he still managed to go to Brazil a couple of times with his wife and children. Mr. DeNight now works half of the summer and the other half he relaxes and works around his house. 

    Mr. DeNight was twenty-six when he met his wife, Jane. They got married five years after they met. Jane is a successful nurse practitioner who runs her own business. She is also passionate about ballet and jazz dancing. 

    Mr. DeNight has a 21-year-old son named William and a 17-year-old daughter named Julia. He stated, “What I’m most proud of about them is that they ‘re very social in the sense that they make friends wherever they go.” He also is proud that they were in a bilingual program when they were young, and both got good at speaking Portuguese. 


Life Outside of schools/Hobbies 

     Mr. DeNight describes himself as a mixture of opposites. For example, he likes being around people, talking with people, meeting new people, but he also likes quiet time. “I like to run by myself and read by myself. I can go to a restaurant by myself and go to the theater by myself. I like people, but I also like private or individual time,” he said. He likes to laugh but he is serious about reading. “I’m a book worm,” he said.  

    In order for Mr. DeNight to balance work life and his personal life he would give preference to his job because it is his number one responsibility. He stated, “If I don’t have money, then I can’t support a family, so that’s very important.” 

    Mr. Denight’s hobbies include walking, riding his bike, running, hiking in nature, and sitting in his backyard. He feels very relaxed and calm when he is outside. He states, “I’m not crazy about air conditioning or being in front of a screen, but I love using my own body to move in the natural world.” 

    When not in school Mr. DeNight sometimes helps his wife at work. He also likes to read the newspaper, grocery shop, cook dinner, or go out for a run. Pasta is Mr. DeNight’s favorite meal, which he calls his Italian side. He stated, “I could make pasta with four or five of my favorite sauces and eat it every day of the week.” He likes to grill, make soups, and have a big breakfast on the weekends.  


4 Fun Facts about Mr. DeNight 

  • He’s been teaching at Miami High for 20 years

  • He has four brothers 

  • He has 2 kids 

  • His favorite meal is pasta