The Daily Dose of Wisdom

Visual Dean Lacey Van Reeth gives advice and encouragement to her students through the “Daily Nugget.”

Makena Senzon, Writer

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  • Visual Dean Lacey Van Reeth writes the daily nugget for Nov. 8 on the white board: a quote by Marcel Proust. She originally started the tradition to teach etiquette or share small tips and inspiration with her students. “They give a more positive mood to the classroom,” visual senior Amina Walker said. “I remember Ms. Van Reeth starting off each class with the daily nuggets, and it would get a conversation going in class, but even if that didn’t happen, it helped start the class off with some wisdom or positive words.”

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Surrounded by a laminated Bitmoji and turquoise hearts, the “Daily Nugget” board displayed Visual Dean Lacey Van Reeth’s favorite nugget: “You must edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece,” on Aug. 26, 2019. 

The miniature white board in Room 9-115 displays “life skills, quotes, (or) general tips for students,” according to Ms. Van Reeth. Back in 2018, Ms. Van Reeth started the Daily Nugget in her classroom. While originally she added a new nugget once a week, now she updates it every school day.

“I started to have little things I wanted to share with my students, more so about etiquettes than anything else. (I also share) any of my biggest pet peeves in life, or (what) I was experiencing here at school,” Ms. Van Reeth said.

 

Scrolling through her phone, Ms. Van Reeth searches for her favorite “Daily Nugget” post. For some students, the nuggets are simple reminders to take a break. “(Those nuggets remind me) that’s what I need to be doing,” communications junior Faith Parkinson said. “Take a deep breath, lay off stress (from) the day, (and) just dissolve.” (Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

While Ms. Van Reeth primarily focuses on teaching students drawing techniques and art history, she views her nuggets as a chance for her to share tips about things she thinks that she would have liked to be “reminded of when (she) was 16, 17, or 18 years old.” One of her earlier nuggets was a reminder to students that before you get on an elevator, you must wait for people to get off. 

“I know my mom always taught me (elevator etiquette). And I’m like, come on, let people off before you charge on,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “Little things like that started (the daily nuggets) as little reminders to consider.” 

The Daily Nugget made its first Instagram appearance on Ms. Van Reeth’s personal account alongside her cat and travel photos. However, when a student asked if there was any way he could see them online, the Instagram account @thedailydoseofnugget was born. 

“What I like to see is that my former students still appreciate them now too,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “Reposting it or just making comments or still making suggestions. Some kids graduated even before I started doing it and found it and followed it. So I like that it still resonates with those guys too.”

Ms. Van Reeth discusses her reasons for starting the Daily Nugget during an interview with The Muse. (Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

The account currently has 436 followers and over 400 posts. An avid follower is communications junior Faith Parkinson, a student of Ms.Van Reeth, who has AP Art History everyday. She said she “was instantly drawn to the daily nuggets” and decided to follow the Instagram account.

“Sometimes I’ll see nuggets and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, like that’s me right now,’” Parkinson said. “It really relates to my daily life and what I’m experiencing at the moment, and it helps me just kind of take a break, reassess where I’m at, and see how I can apply that to my life. I hope that (Ms. Van Reeth) knows how much good she’s doing with these small messages.” 

Ms. Van Reeth is constantly looking out for and writing down words of wisdom she can turn into a nugget. They are influenced by her life experiences, including many nuggets adapted from her father. Ms. Van Reeth also draws inspiration from musical artists, such as Tupac Shakur. One of her favorite nuggets is a quote from him: “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are two steps ahead.”

“When I watch anything, when I listen to music, you name it, if I hear or see something, I have a running list (of nugget ideas), and I write them down. Really, from any kind of observation,” Ms.Van Reeth said.

Ms. Van Reeth typically creates the nugget boards the afternoon before they’re posted, then posts them to Instagram while she drinks her morning coffee. After school, she selects a new nugget and chooses to add a laminated Bitmoji of herself that best reflects the nugget. Some nuggets are even accompanied with a doodle or colorful underlines, but they all seek to give students help, advice, and wisdom.

Ms. Van Reeth’s collection of Bitmojis to accompany each of her nuggets. The Daily Nugget Instagram, @thedailydoseofnugget, was created in 2019. Over time, “it became a lot bigger than just (the Instagram),” social studies teacher Kathleen O’Hara said. The account has helped some students start their day positively. Photo screenshot from @thedailydoseofnugget Instagram account.

“I have certain nuggets and reminders prepared for college admission season,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “There’s a lot of stuff I see happen negatively around campus. Those weeks are bothersome to me. So (I post) reminders about being considerate.” 

The Daily Nugget is also open to suggestions. There is a google form linked in the Instagram bio for students or teachers to submit suggestions for what they’d like to see shared on the board. Social studies teacher Kathleen O’Hara, who was Ms. Van Reeth’s high school classmate, often finds herself submitting or messaging Ms. Van Reeth to discuss them.

“They’re just good stuff, stuff that we want (students) to know for a happier, healthier life,” Ms. O’Hara said. “With life experience under our belts, it’s legit stuff because it’s stuff that we know is good.”

Throughout the year, Ms. Van Reeth plans to incorporate nuggets that mirror current events and school climate. During the pandemic, many nuggets centered on email etiquette, a skill that Ms. Van Reeth thought many students lacked.

“I was getting to the point where I’m like, ‘I’m not gonna respond to these (emails), and I obviously can’t do this,’” Ms. Van Reeth said. “What is a way I can reply to them to let them know that I’m a little frustrated with them but also teach them about communicating when things are hard and making sure that you’re polite or courteous?”

AP Art History students attest to the many ways Ms. Van Reeth’s teaching style combats their negative mental health and stress. Along with her nuggets, she often switches seats so students can be introduced to others and makes their class feel more like a community. 

“I think it’s very important for teachers to focus on students’ mental health because our mental health affects how we function and work at school,” visual senior Amina Walker said. “Especially as the stress of grades and college applications start to pile on, teachers can help relieve some of the stress on our mental health.”

The nuggets not only affect students but are also an outlet for Ms. Van Reeth to deal with her own life experiences as well. 

“Just as much as I hope it resonates with them, they are usually reminders for me,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “That’s something that I tell the students a lot and I hope they know. This isn’t just me lecturing you. I’m part of the audience. The (nuggets are) for me too.”

One of Ms. Van Reeth’s favorite daily nuggets. Photo screenshot from @thedailydoseofnugget Instagram account.

Since its creation, there have been very few events that led to a Daily Nugget hiatus during the school year. Due to the pandemic, March 13, 2020 was the last nugget of that school year. As hybrid learning ensued for the next year, the Daily Nugget went virtual and color-coded; digital nuggets were posted every day in lieu of the dry-erase designs on the white board. There was a brief pause more recently in September when Ms. Van Reeth took a trip to France to visit the art installation of an artist featured in the AP Art History curriculum. Despite some of the pauses in posting, the impacts of the nuggets have been consistent for teachers and students. 

“I love them. I hope that students are heeding them,” Ms. O’Hara said. “Even if they might seem silly, if students go back and look at them, in a digital time capsule, they’ll be like, ‘oh, man, that was a good one … she gives good advice.’”

Despite her hundreds of nuggets, Ms. Van Reeth claims she is not “an endless pit of wisdom.” From time to time, a nugget will be redesigned and reused. Because of this, she is always eager for more student and teacher submissions. Ms. Van Reeth expects each nugget to resonate differently with each student, and she hopes they create a lasting impact. 

“(A nugget) might stick in their brain, and they might remember at the appropriate time,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “Even if it hits just one or two (students) a day, that’s all that really matters.”

Click here to submit a nugget suggestion to Ms. Van Reeth. If it is a quote or song lyric, make sure to attribute it.