Teachers share stories about life with their high school, college sweethearts: Danny Hahn



Photo courtesy of Danny Hahn

Written by Jennifer Gao

Currently on paternity leave, math teacher Danny Hahn and his wife Clara met when they were attending the University of Pennsylvania; he was a senior, and she was a freshman.

At first, Hahn was intimidated by her seemingly cold nature, but began to develop a crush as he got to know her throughout the year. “I was like ‘oh this girl is a little bit scary,’ but she was fun to talk to, and at the time she had a biting sarcasm that I thought was entertaining,” he said. “She’s changed a lot since then; she used to be kind of like a lot darker, and now she’s generally a lot more cheery.”

Despite his feelings at the time, Hahn was older than her and tried to avoid a relationship because it was Clara’s first year in college. “I really believe that Freshman year is good for you to develop a lot of friendships, learn how to study and live by yourself; all of those transitions,” Hahn said. “So I didn’t want to swoop in and date her. Even though I liked her for a lot of the year, I kind of tried to play it cool.”

One of Hahn’s favorite memories before they began dating occurred in one of their dorm lounges. “There was a bunch of us hanging out and someone bought in a bag of clementines. And she was like ‘hey give me one of those,’ so I threw it at her from across the room, and she just really casually caught it with her left hand because she was writing with her right hand,” he said. “And I was like woah, this girl is really cool and has skills.”

The following year, when Hahn was out of college and staying in Philadelphia, the two kept in touch since he lived near campus. “She was a sophomore at the time and we hung out a lot,” he said. “I think she kind of started to get the vibe ‘this guy likes me more than just friends,’ so she sat me down and was like what are you doing, what’s going on here? So we got everything out on the table and realized that we liked each other.”

After completing his senior year, Hahn began looking for jobs around Philadelphia that related to his major in chemical engineering, and wanted to stay near UPenn because he had a lot of friends, was involved in a church and liked Clara at the time. Having trouble finding a job in that location, Hahn considered moving back to his family in Los Angeles. However, one of his friends was a science teacher at a private school near Philadelphia and notified him that there was an open position for a math teacher, and that he should go to the interview. “So, I interviewed and got that job, thinking that it was just going to be a one year thing before I went into engineering,” Hahn said. “But I really liked it so I stuck with teaching.”

Although Clara had initiated the relationship, Hahn was the one to propose. It was their two year anniversary, and she was still in her senior year. “We spent the day together for our anniversary, and when we were out at dinner, I proposed. She was like super shocked,” he said.

When Valentine’s day comes around every year, Hahn finds himself under a great deal of pressure since Clara shares her birthday with this holiday. “Every year, it’s kind of a big deal,” Hahn said. “Maybe for the first seven or eight years when I was still trying hard, every Valentine’s day I would try and get her two gifts; one for the birthday and one romantic gift.”