Christopher Laughland’s parents always wanted their son to be a doctor or a meteorologist. Thankfully for Walden Grove High School, Laughland decided to dedicate himself to teaching. His mantra: “If I am bored with a lesson, then I know my students will be bored, too.”
Walden Grove High School stands out in the school district for being only two years old; with just seven years of teaching under his belt, Laughland is equally new to education. No matter, by all accounts he’s made his mark on the school, the students, their parents and the Sahuarita, Arizona, community.
Laughland excels as a teacher, mentor to other instructors, student council advisor, principal designee, head baseball coach, and many more. Using his class as a model for observation, colleagues and administrators praise Laughland’s strong implementation of technology and other inventive methods to engage students and keep them excited about learning. When he taught audio/visual, students created public service videos that were played during the morning’s daily announcements. These hands-on activities resonate with the students as well as inspire other Walden Grove High teachers to try new approaches in their classrooms.
Laughland’s instructional practices and “never-say-no” philosophy are also what contribute to Walden Grove High’s impressive state test scores. In the high school’s first year (2012), 90 percent of his students met or exceeded benchmarks on the state AIMS Reading test—seven percent higher than the state and county average. On the state AIMS Writing test, 74 percent met or exceeded targets—five percent above the state and county average.
Outside of the classroom, students, fellow educators and administrators point to Laughland as a guiding force. He has furnished “fast facts” for new teachers, helped design and define a positive school climate through his founding of the Red Wolf Spirit Club, and the baseball program doubled in its second year under his leadership. Laughland’s passion and uplifting attitude aided students through the challenge of playing “away” games all year due to not having athletic facilities during the first year of school. Finding strength in adversity is one of Laughland’s many lessons that transcend beyond the classroom into life as well.
BA - Purdue University (English Education)