CHARLOTTESVILLE — Bill Daly accomplishes what many would consider nearly impossible in his Albemarle High School classroom — he makes math fun.
Daly, who has taught at the school for 21 years, recently was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. As part of the honor, Daly was named the top Virginia middle and high school educator. The award comes with $10,000, and Daly went to Washington, D.C., for recognition events and professional development.
He teaches a two-year course to freshmen and sophomores that combines Algebra II and trigonometry, weaving in physics and other topics. The class is part of the Math, Engineering and Science Academy at Albemarle High, and Daly helped to design the curriculum.
“He makes it fun by teaching it well and in an interesting and novel way,” said Henry Sackett, a senior at the school.
Daly always liked math, even before he taught the subject. He said he enjoys problem-solving and the thinking involved.
He first attended the University of Virginia to become an engineer, but that didn’t work out and he left the program. After seven years of cooking in restaurants and landscaping, someone suggested that he would be a good teacher, and it clicked. He re-enrolled at UVA shortly after that conversation and didn’t look back.
“I have the best job in the world,” he said.
Daly tries to focus his teaching on problem-solving and skills that can be applied beyond math.
“If you learn logical thinking and using facts, you are going to be able to solve problems,” he said. “So I teach that, and persistence.”