Bill Daly

Bill Daly

Math? Fun?

“Surely, you jest,” you might be thinking.

Actually … no.

Who’s to say math can’t be fun as well as functional?

Albemarle High School teacher Bill Daly just won a national award for proving both sides of that math equation.

“He makes it fun by teaching it well and in an interesting and novel way,” AHS senior Henry Sackett told The Daily Progress.

Mr. Daly tries to grab students’ interest before they become too entangled in the “I can’t do math” stereotype.

He teaches a two-year course to freshmen and sophomores that combines Algebra II with trigonometry, also weaving in physics and other topics. It’s part of the Math, Engineering and Science Academy — for which he helped design the curriculum.

Student Artina Li, a senior, said that although she assumed she didn’t have a “math brain,” Mr. Daly helped her gain confidence in her math skills.

We’re reminded of a recent column by Esther Cepeda, also a math teacher, pointing to research that even infants can demonstrate math ability (“Please, help your children love math,” The Daily Progress, Nov. 1).

The implication is that a facility with numbers is born in us, but either is not nurtured or is actively trained out of us by anti-math stereotypes: Girls can’t do math; creative people can’t do math, etc.

Mr. Daly has knocked down some stereotypes in his own life and career. He started out as an engineering student at the University of Virginia, but that program wasn’t a good fit and he left.

He next spent seven years knocking around, doing landscaping and working as a restaurant cook.

Then the epiphany: Somebody suggested to him that he’d make a good teacher, and the light bulb went off.

Mr. Daly went back to school, got his teaching degree, went into the classroom — and the rest is history.

For his work, Mr. Daly recently won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. He also was named Virginia’s top middle and high school educator.

We like that he’s a living, breathing example that stereotypes can’t define you. We like that he’s teaching students out of that same philosophy.

Congratulations to Mr. Daly for his outstanding work with math students and for his Presidential Award for Excellence.

As Ms. Li said, “We need more math teachers like him.”

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