Dana Staller was born on October 13, 1976 in Dover, New Jersey and was raised in Huntington Beach, California. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach in May 2001, with her B.A. in Liberal Studies. Dana was working on her teaching credential at CSULB when she was tragically killed in a train accident in France on July 7, 2002, while studying Spanish in Spain with her younger sister Lisa.
Dana was a young woman who embodied life to the fullest. She had a passion and love for everything and everyone. Dana’s love and appreciation of children came at an early age and charted her course from that point on. After reading Freedom Writers’ Diary and meeting Distinguished Teacher in Residence at CSULB, Erin Gruwell, Dana became determined to work with disadvantaged youths – children whose lives she could make a difference in. She planned to teach elementary school and do her student teaching in the Long Beach Unified School District.
Dana ran a small day-care center in a Newport Beach advertising firm and found many creative ways to entertain the children. In addition to the kids at the advertising firm, Dana took care of Hal and Joni Brice’s – the founding donors of the Dana Staller Celebration of Children Scholarship – children for five years. She had a special fondness for kids and looked forward to the time that she spent with them.
Dana was beautiful – always laughing her wonderful laugh and flashing her gorgeous smile. She was rich in her warm, loving spirit and made those she touched rich as well. This scholarship celebrates Dana’s love of life and children. It is awarded to a future teacher who embodies Dana’s love and passion for teaching.