By Christian Weaner
Dan Anderson SEC, Farmin Stidwell Elementary Assistant Soccer Coach, Sandpoint High School
Having been born in Venezuela and living in Guatemala and later Uganda for much of his childhood, Dan Anderson learned two important lessons. "A key lesson was that we have much more in common with people from other cultures than we do differences," Dan explained. "I also learned that, in most countries, if you walk outside with a football (soccer ball) at your feet, you are able to instantly make friends."
Today, Dan is putting both these lessons in practice, serving his community as an assistant soccer coach at his alma mater, Sandpoint High School (SHS), and as a Services for Exceptional Children (SEC) teacher at Farmin Stidwell Elementary School, where Dan himself attended in fifth grade.
In 2001, despite knowing nothing about Sandpoint, Dan's family moved all the way from East Africa to North Idaho, where his father took a job at Quest Aircraft Company. "Safe to say, we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived," Dan laughed. "I love this town and now consider it home."
Growing up playing soccer in South America and Africa, Dan's skills were noticeable, and he immediately made an impact on the pitch. In high school, Dan became a standout player for SHS, playing on varsity all four years and helping lead the Bulldogs to three state championships.
"My high school career remains my fondest period of sports-related memories that I have," Dan reflected. "I learned so much about how to work toward lofty goals, be disciplined, and how to be a good teammate and leader."
After graduating in 2010, Dan went on to play collegiate soccer at several universities and he later spent two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Dan moved back to Sandpoint in 2018, and he is now entering his sixth year working at Farmin Stidwell and his third as an SEC teacher. He explained that his role is like a case manager and service provider for students in need of Special Education services. "A typical day involves running small groups (academics, social/emotional learning, behavior regulation tools, etc.), being in the students' classrooms with them to help them access their learning, and a fair amount of paperwork," Dan explained. "To call it a labor of love would be an understatement."
Aside from teaching and coaching, Dan loves to be outdoors and participate in activities like hiking, backpacking, snowboarding (most recently backcountry split boarding), disc golf, and any form of competitive sport, and he values time spent with his family and close friends.
While his life's journey has taken him across the globe, Dan can confidently say that Sandpoint is his home and the work he does now is meaningful, rewarding, and a lot of fun.