By Diana Matthews
West Columbus High School math teacher Worley T. Edwards II is proud of his family’s heritage as educators. “You could say education runs in our blood,” he said. “My late grandmother, Alice Williams, was my inspiration to become a teacher.”
Mrs. Williams died when her grandson was in sixth grade; years later, he said, “people in our community that I’ve never met come up and explain the lasting impact she had on their life.”
In addition, said Edwards, “My dad, Worley Edwards, is currently serving on the Board of Education. My mom, Kim Edwards, is the Elementary Curriculum Director for Columbus County Schools. My brother, Bryant Edwards, teaches health and P.E. at South Columbus High School and my sister, Allison Edwards, is at Appalachian State University studying to become an E.C. teacher.”
Edwards is married to fellow math teacher Brittany Edwards and calls her “my biggest support system throughout our career thus far. I learn the most from her and trust her advice in everything.” Their daughter’s name is Gray.
At East Carolina University, Edwards benefited from the N.C. Teaching Fellows scholarship program. In fact, he credits his accomplishments to the enrichment and motivation he received there. He also met his wife-to-be in the dorm where all the N.C. Teaching Fellows lived together their freshman year.
“We created a family of educators that first year that is now a PLC (professional learning community) stretched across the whole state,” Edwards said. “We constantly communicate and help each other even seven years after graduation. I felt ahead of the game my first year teaching because of this awesome program and long for the day it returns to our universities.”
Edwards has been at WCHS since his first year teaching. He said, “There are many challenges with this profession, but there are so many more benefits. Time is the biggest challenge in my opinion. Teachers are constantly looking to manipulate time in favor of the students, but it takes constant work. Student engagement can be a challenge, especially with math.
“I try to relate each topic to an interest students may have in hopes of retaining their attention. I also try to keep students up moving constantly throughout a lesson, whether that be with group investigations or activities.”
Edwards believes that WCHS students “really deserve more recognition than they receive at times. We have a plethora of backgrounds walking our halls and I love seeing the differences in each student.”
He cites the school’s “loving environment” and his fellow teachers’ “awesome influences” as reasons why he “wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. We have a faculty that strives to meet the needs of these students, but who are also willing to look out for one another when in need. I constantly rely on my colleagues for advice, help and guidance.”
Edwards also coaches the school’s varsity men’s basketball and tennis teams and is leading the music for the spring production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I am extremely excited to be helping,” he said. “Musical theater has been a love of mine basically my whole life.”
With his busy schedule, he said, “Any chance I get to sit and watch television is a blessing!” Lately his preferred spare time activity “is spending as much time with my wife and daughter as possible.”
“I teach because of the kids,” he said. Like his grandmother, Edwards invests energy in “building relationships with my students and players. They leave a lasting impression on my life, so I can only hope I do the same with them.
“I truly enjoy what I do, even on the “bad” days. Enjoying what you do makes the biggest difference.”