WHS grad, former track star, wins praise in Arizona as math teacher

Derek Langley, aDerek Langley 2002 graduate of Wayland High School, was featured in a Tucson News Now story about his work as a math teacher at Empire High School near Tucson, Ariz.

Langley, son of Monica (Trubiroha) Langley-Williams and the late Jerry Langley, also Wayland High School graduates, was well known for being part of state-qualifying sprint relay foursomes in track, but now he seems to be getting accolades for his performance in the classroom.

The Tucson News Now story reported:

“While math can be tough for many students, Derek Langley with Empire High School, believes every student can succeed in the subject. That is the kind of attitude Langley has brought to the high school for the last five years. He wants students to value what they do in math and life.

“‘When you walk in, it feels like home it’s not a class where you have to be uptight and stuff,’ said sophomore Lexie Culp, a student in one of Langley’s classes.

“There’s no place like home, a phrase you don’t usually hear in reference to a math class, but that’s exactly how these kids feel about geometry class and it’s all thanks to Langley.

“‘I just try to make sure they’re on task a lot and I also do a lot of projects make sure they’re communicating with each other communicating with me,’ said Langley.

“‘Math is now one of my best subjects so he’s really helped me grow,’ said math student, Empire sophomore Ian Powell.

“Students like Ian are seeing a passion for math grow. Sophomore Lexie Culp once hated math, now she looks forward to class.

“‘When I came to high school I absolutely hated math and I wasn’t very good at it,” said Lexie. ‘But now my grades are better and he just makes me feel more successful.’

“Keeping things real with students is how Langley likes to roll, he wants to keep communication open with his class. So every year Langley shares his story to remind students he understands life can be tough, and that he is there to help in any way he can.

“‘When I was a freshman in high school my dad passed away of a heart attack all of sudden during one of my baseball games, so I recognize that a death in the family or even a divorce… something in their lives can affect what they do in education.’

“‘He’s really easy to talk to just one on one or in front of the class cause with other teachers they have that judgmental look with him, he’s very understanding,’ said Ian.

“As students calculate numbers and work on their equations, they are not the only ones that feel at home.

“‘I love being around students every day,’ said Langley. ‘It’s really a passion of mine. I feel like this is the spot where I belong.’

“Langley helps students both in and out of the classroom, he is the head of the Dream Club, where students learn leadership skills.”

PHOTO: Derek Langley

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