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Deborah’s Force on Yorktown

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Deborah’s Force on Yorktown

Deborah Waldron helping students with a physics lab.

Deborah Waldron helping students with a physics lab.

Lindsey Bowers

Deborah Waldron helping students with a physics lab.

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Deborah Waldron helping students with a physics lab.

Anna Trainum, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Understanding, engaging and fun. Patient, passionate and extremely kind. According to the students of physics teacher Deborah Waldron, this year’s  Teacher of the Year, these words accurately sum up her character. Waldron, or as she asks her students to call her, Deborah, was nominated and eventually awarded Teacher of the Year due to her indescribable impact on this school. Her committed work to the physics department, High Intensity Language Training (HILT) program and her students education all contribute to her wholesome role as an educator.

A career in physics education was always in the books for Waldron. While math was her initial interest, she quickly discovered her love for physics in high school because of how applicable it is in daily life. After spending countless summers as a camp counselor, Waldron also realized her interest in teaching.

I can remember being in high school and being like, ‘I really like math. What can I do with math? I was like well, I guess I can be a math teacher.’ I worked at a summer camp for many years and I actually discovered that I really liked teaching. And then when I took physics I was like, ‘This is a million times better than math. It is like math with a real purpose to it.’ That’s when I knew I wanted to become a physics teacher,” Waldron said.

Specifically, Waldron’s high school physics teacher sparked her interest in the subject.

I had this high school physics teacher, and he was amazing. He was, compared to all of my other teachers, very out there, eager and excited. He was so different, he just made physics come to life. He was definitely an influence,” Waldron said.

Following in his footsteps, Waldron is now a major influence in many of her students lives. Senior Julia Hays is a member of the class that ultimately nominated Waldron for Teacher of the Year. Hays is lucky to have Waldron as her physics teacher this year and appreciates the rarity of having a teacher with such a strong passion for her job.

“I love Deborah. She is super fun and super excited about physics. She loves her job, and it shows. She brings an energy to class that makes us excited to learn. [After this year,] I’ll miss her. She is definitely one of my favorite teachers,” Hays said.

For the last 25 years, Waldron has taught at Yorktown. Prior to working here, she taught at Kenmore Middle School for two years. Throughout her career at our school, she has taught every level of physics offered. Outside of the physics department, Waldron has also worked to improve and develop the HILT program.

“I’ve taught every level of physics that there is at Yorktown. The hardest [class] to teach has been the HILT physics class. It requires a totally different skill set of teaching skills. If I had done that my first year of teaching, I probably would never had made it to my second year because the skill set is just so different. But, it is totally fun and fantastic. I really enjoy it,” Waldron said.

Needless to say, Waldron has gone above and beyond within the physics department, and outside of it. Two years ago, she inspired the inclusive “We Are Yorktown” signs, stickers and shirts. Waldron is dedicated to making this school a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, and her hard work for this cause can be seen.

Last year was Principal Bridget Loft’s first year here. With hundreds of teachers and administrators to meet, making a lasting impression on Loft could be difficult. However, Waldron was different. Loft noticed Waldron’s incomparable dedication to her students and work immediately.

“My first year, Ms. Waldron really inspired me to step up and be aware that we have differences at Yorktown and they need to be celebrated. She spearheaded the ‘We Are Yorktown’ shirts, and I was very quick to buy one of those. She and I have engaged in a lot of conservations as it comes to tolerance, respect and upholding the value of having differences at Yorktown, be that gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, etc. I think that she is a thoughtful person and an incredibly competent teacher,” Loft said.

In her years here, Waldron has made many lasting memories. When asked to share an especially memorable one, this event stood out for Waldron. Imagine accidentally hitting your student in the head with a tennis ball while attempting to display a nonviolent startle response. Well, for Waldron, she does not have to imagine this scene as it happened to her in her first two or three years teaching here.  

“I am just talking, talking, talking and I pick up the tennis ball and throw it as hard as I can towards the back of the room. I totally hit a kid smack dab in the middle of the forehead. You have to remember, that is horrible regardless, but nobody knew why I was throwing a tennis ball. It just happened. That was during one of my first two or three years of teaching (….) I felt horrible,” Waldron said.

When Waldron is not throwing tennis balls at her students, she is giving them useful advice.

“I think that we fall into a philosophy that what we are doing here is so important that [you can’t miss it]. Balancing your life is important, and no one day in any one class is so important that you can’t miss it. It is just one day. So, I think I would say balance [is my biggest piece of advice],” Waldron said.

Waldron is, without a doubt, an essential leader here at Yorktown. Without her dedication to physics and her students well-being, this school would not be the same. She is extremely grateful for her time here and cannot wait to keep improving as a teacher and role model.

“Yorktown is a fantastic school, and there are awesome students here which make teaching here much easier than it could be in other places. But, long term, what has made Yorktown such a great place for me to teach are the people that I work with– both in the science department and the physics team. I teach with a lot of amazing people. Since I always see them doing really cool stuff and making themselves better, it pushes me to continue to get better, and never to just sit with what I’ve done, but to continue to improve every year,” Waldron said.

Waldron’s utter love for her job is the reason why she was awarded Teacher of the Year. In Waldron’s 25 years here, she has left the school in a better way than how she found it, and she will continue to do so in the future.

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