It’s not every day that someone gets engaged during Chrysalis, a time-honored StoneBridge tradition. In fact, it’s only happened once…to a teacher.
On a frigid night in 2005, Danny Gonzalez (Class of 2001), who was at the time a math teacher and chaperone, proposed to his then-girlfriend, Mary. He wanted to be alone to pop the question so he asked Mary to go for a walk in the venue’s garden. She agreed, but only if she could wear his jacket. The only problem was the ring was in that jacket. He handed her a card written by her father and was able to get down on one knee. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
While the proposal was a little unconventional, it seems appropriate for Danny to somehow include StoneBridge in that big moment as his life has been entrenched in SBS from the beginning. His mother, Diana, taught many grades and subjects – she was his pre-K teacher and his 11th grade English teacher. His father, José, was a founding SBS board member. His three older siblings all graduated from SBS.
“Between sports, drama rehearsals, and open house, we basically lived at the school,” Danny said.
Keeping the StoneBridge connection going, today the couple’s three children all attend StoneBridge: Levi, 6th grade, Sammy, 4th grade, and Gabi, 2nd grade.
Danny attended SBS from pre-K through 12th grade and went on to Christopher Newport University to earn a BA in Political Science, and then to Excelsior University to earn a BS in Nuclear Engineering Technology. He is currently a Licensed Nuclear Reactor Operator at Surry Nuclear Power Station, where he is responsible for maintaining continuous oversight and control of over 75 electrical and mechanical plant systems.
While his job requires more than 200 hours of continual training and recertification each year, Danny still finds time to share the truth of the gospel to coworkers regularly.
“Without a doubt, the most humbling thing God has done is to use me to bring a few of my coworkers to a saving knowledge of the gospel,” he said. “God has, despite my immensely imperfect talents, actions and heart condition allowed me to connect to Himself while leading others to do so as well.”
Outside of work, Danny has spent more than 20 years participating on and leading worship teams at his church. He also volunteers at SBS as much as his unusual schedule allows. This past April, Danny spent countless hours working with students, faculty, administrators and volunteers to help organize the school-wide STEM Day.
Among Danny’s many memories of his time playing sports at SBS, a few stand out.
“I remember winning the State Meet 1600m in 9th grade in record time…and being sick for hours thereafter,” Danny reflected. “I also remember standing with the entire crowd and cheering for a friend, who, after dozens of failed attempts, successfully served during a volleyball match. In all cases, I learned that sports are really about character, not outward success.”
It wasn’t just sports that prepared him for the future. The process of researching and writing his senior thesis made the lesser challenges of academic and subsequent work-related training much easier to tackle.
“StoneBridge was, without a doubt, harder academically than college,” he said. “I was able to successfully leverage my critical thinking skills from SBS in both my Political Science and Nuclear Engineering Technology programs. In fact, I switched college majors to political science because there was so much opportunity to talk about the true condition of the human heart apart from God.”
For Danny, this often meant sharing how the gospel should influence cultural issues and how the family, workplace, church, state or even U.S. government was not the authority to whom each person is individually responsible.
“Things I took for granted at SBS were frequently challenged, but each time, the truths of the gospel prevailed as ultimate reality,” he said.
Danny and his family attend Centerpoint Community Church in Chesapeake, Va. He serves on the board of directors for a global non-profit whose goal is the transformation of individuals, marriages, churches, and governments through the application of Biblical principles.
“My hobbies,” he said, “are making memories with my family, medium distance running, making spreadsheets for, well, anything, and financial planning.”