Teacher of the Issue: Long incorporates old coaching skills into teaching math

Nandini Paidesetty, Staff Writer

Coppell High School algebra II and statistics teacher Dr. Roxanne Long was selected by The Sidekick staff as its Teacher of the Issue. Her genuine devotion toward teaching is admired by her students, and her enthusiasm for teaching brightens up the classroom. Her past experience with coaching basketball in two high schools (Diamond Hill High School and Keller Central High School) and two colleges (Texas Lutheran University and Rogers State University) rubbed off on her current teaching techniques.

Why did you choose to teach math?

Math actually chose me, because early in my teaching career, which was a very long time ago, I was asked by a principal if I would teach math instead of social studies. I said sure, I’d be happy to teach math, but then after I started teaching math, I absolutely fell in love with it. I’ve been teaching that ever since. But I did not set out to teach math, I set out to teach social studies and just happened to fall into math along the way.

Why did you want to pursue teaching as a career?

That was an easy decision. Every single person in my family is either a teacher or a coach. All my aunts and uncles are teachers or coaches, all my grandparents were teachers or coaches and all my siblings.

Do you think having a background in coaching basketball impacted your way of teaching algebra II?

It took me a while to kind of figure this out, but teaching math and coaching are very, very similar. [They require] all the same skills; it’s skill building. When you’re teaching basketball you’re building skill. Can everyone shoot a layup? Can everybody shoot a free throw? Can everybody dribble? All [of] the math skills are the same way, so I think that yes, everything I did in coaching, I also applied to math. It is crazy weird how much they go together and how similar they are.

If you didn’t become a teacher, what would you be?

Well, this is a really weird answer, but I love those home shows, so I’d probably be an interior decorator where I can choose the plants, wall color and all the decorations. I love to do that stuff.

What do you love most about teaching?

I really do believe it matters for the [future of the] students but a more simple answer is that students crack me up and they keep me young. I learn all the latest movies, TV shows, musical artists and new words. I have learned at least seven new words this semester that I’ve never heard. A serious answer is that [teaching] really does matter for [students’] futures, but the fun answer is my day-to-day is enjoyable because I get to keep up with all that stuff.

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Coppell High School algebra II and statistics teacher Dr. Roxanne Long explains her second period algebra II class on Friday. Long was selected by The Sidekick staff as the fourth Teacher of the Issue for the 2020-21 school year. (Blanche Harris)