Beyond all expectations. Those three words sum up Dr. Brian McDaniel’s teaching philosophy and life motto. A 2018 California Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Nominee, Dr. McDaniel has raised over $1,000,000 through grants, donations, sponsorships and fundraisers to ensure that every child can participate in his award-winning music programs.

At his EdTalk, which will take place at University of Redlands on July 27, Dr. McDaniel will explore how to teach beyond all expectations, so that every student, regardless of the obstacles they face in life, can “make something out of nothing.”

“We need to build educational communities that ensure opportunities for all students,” Dr. McDaniel said. “Teachers need to think beyond the scope of the classroom, inspiring creativity and convincing our students that they are capable of anything – because they are.”

Personalizing learning, the theme of this year’s Summit, is a central component of Dr. McDaniel’s EdTalk and his classroom environment. While he teaches his students the fundamentals of music, they often compose and improvise music of their own. He believes that if “you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” and therefore works hard to ensure that the music genres and musicians reflect the diverse backgrounds of his students.

“Our job is to make the content relevant and interesting for them, with the ultimate goal of empowering them to take that knowledge and make it their own,” he said. “They need to be captains of their own souls.”

Beyond all expectations isn’t just a motto for Dr. McDaniel – it reflects his lived experience. Growing up extremely poor in Desert Hot Springs, the community where he now teaches, he faced what many would see as insurmountable challenges, from dyslexia to family hardships and even homelessness. But with the help and support of a few inspiring teachers, he persevered – eventually earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.

Now a married father of six, he is committed to uplifting everyone around him.

“Tell me what my kids can’t do and I’m going to prove them wrong every time,” he said.

Dr. McDaniel will deliver his EdTalk at University of Redlands on Friday, July 27. Go to to register and learn more.