Congratulations to Brett Darling of Cienega High School and WT Jeffries of Andrada Polytechnic High School, 2018 Circle K Teacher of the Year Finalists!
Brett Darling – Brett Darling’s path to teaching began as he was heading down the path of becoming a pastor, but he decided he could have more impact on youth in his community as an educator. He graduated from Southwestern College – what is now known as Arizona Christian University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a minor in History. He later went on to earn his Masters in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.
Mr. Darling’s first taste of education came teaching sixth grade in the Amphitheater School District before teaching eighth grade. He then spent four years at Amphitheater High School teaching World History where he also worked to develop the distance learning online program. He headed back to teaching middle school before going on to teach in TUSD and then on to Vail where he has been teaching Advanced Placement Government for the last three years. Mr. Darling’s students learn government by experiencing it through creating political parties and campaigning, giving previous presidents report cards on the seven hats of a president, conducting mock petitions, and attending presidential inaugurations in DC.
Coaching football for seventeen years has provided Mr. Darling with the opportunity to increase his influence. He works to instill cultural values of respect, perseverance, sportsmanship, and hard work, he leads his coaching staff and students to see much broader pictures than a grade on a piece of paper.
WT Jeffries – Ten years prior to retirement from military service, WT knew that he wanted to become a high school teacher. His own high school English teacher had played a profound role in my life. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Humanities from Excelsior College in New York in 2010. He then retired from military service in 2011 and went on to earn his Masters in Secondary Education from the University of Arizona in 2012.
After his 24-year career in the United States Air Force, he became a high school English teacher at Andrada Polytechnic High School where he has been teaching since 2012. Some may mistakenly assume that based on his military background or his rough and tough exterior that his classroom is a silent place. On the contrary. He encourages discussion and participation by relating pop culture to the things students are learning. They discuss modern movie titles including or pop music and relate those well-known cultural works of art to works from the past or literary elements of study.
WT also serves as Empire High School’s head football coach, which presented him with several unique leadership opportunities. Empire High School is the only school in the state to blend four schools into its athletics programs. WT works to build camaraderie among players as well as staff and administrators. He is most proud to see so many teachers and staff from all four schools out at Empire’s games!