Wooley-Brown creates fun and stress-free environment

Photo by Hannah Lowenstein
Photo by Hannah Lowenstein

Science teacher Tyler Wooley-Brown stands at the front of the classroom. All eyes are on him as he goes over what will be on the midterm yet again, trying to alleviate the typical freshman jitters that arise in the weeks before exams. Cracking a sarcastic joke, he immediately lightens the mood, and he goes on to demonstrate a physics problem on his tablet.

“He’s an easy-going guy, and that personality and outlook rubs off on the rest of class; it doesn’t feel like a high-stress environment,” said senior Drew Friedler, a member of Wooley-Brown’s AP Physics course and Quiz Bowl team.

His classroom, located at the end of the science wing, is organized and spacious, covered with countless posters ranging from the cycles of the moon to famous physicists. Another poster depicts several types of electric guitar stems. Wooley-Brown said he plays bass in a local band, practicing up to 15 hours a week, and incorporates this into a lesson on how guitars work during a sound unit later on in the year.

“Since I was a freshman in high school, I think the longest I’ve ever gone without being in a band is nine months,” Wooley-Brown said. “I’d say that’s my outlet.”

Wooley-Brown puts some Jay-Z on quietly in the background while students do classwork; he walks around to check their homework and answer their questions.

“He’s very clear about how he’s always there for extra help if students need it,” Friedler said.

Freshman Zoe Preminger said the class is very interactive.

“We do a lot of hands-on stuff. He takes students and has them get up and show the class things about physics, like pulling a rope or throwing eggs at sheets,” Preminger said. “His class is hard, but he gives us a lot of opportunities to get good grades [and] thrive in the class.”

Wooley-Brown’s own ability to balance so many interests is a factor in pushing his students to excel; he is a self-taught bartender and cook. This encourages him to help students follow their own interests within the curriculum.

“He’s been a really good teacher and really good at helping us, typically with encouraging us to pursue some of the things that we’re already interested in, so that we can study it more and then know more about it,” said senior Sarah Pratt, also a member of the Quiz Bowl team.

After attending both Purdue and Boston University, Wooley-Brown was a student-teacher for two semesters and taught a Saturday class that included engineering. He has been at the high school for almost nine years since then. His openness with his students goes back to when he was in high school in southern Indiana and first got into Quiz Bowl.

“I really had a lot of trouble fitting into places, which is one of the reasons I like leading clubs and teams, and why I’m here fairly often,” Wooley-Brown said. “I want kids to have an opportunity to express who they are and find a place to express that. And I try and make those opportunities available to students, because when I found it in high school, I was really happy with it.”

Friedler said Wooley-Brown is known for being able to connect with his students by sharing his own life experiences.

“A lot of teachers have this business relationship with their students. Not that [Mr. Wooley-Brown] is unprofessional, but he’s very talkative about certain parts of his life and what his experiences were in college. We can relate what’s going on in our lives to what he went through,” Friedler said.

This balance in formality between student and teacher is difficult to achieve: Wooley-Brown said the ability to have a positive relationship with his students is partially a result of how they treat one another.

“There’s a kindness to this student body that does not exist at other schools [and] respect for each other that I haven’t seen elsewhere,” Wooley-Brown said. “Not that I’m planning to move, but that’s why I stay here.”

Hannah Lowenstein can be contacted at [email protected]