McDuffee culminates a lively yet efficient classroom atmosphere


Iniya Nathan

CHS9 AP Human Geography teacher Haley McDuffee plays “Speed Vocab” with her first period class on Oct. 26 to help students review before a test. McDuffee has taught at CHS9 for two years.

Bey-beys” and “Mon-eyyyy” are eccentric and comedic phrases said in lectures on an ordinary basis in Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus AP Human Geography teacher Haley McDuffee’s class. 

They are used as fun alternatives for the boring, old words, “babies” and “money,” that are usually a topic of discussion during AP Human Geography. They can be heard during a tangent about crude birth rates or also a discussion about the sectors of the economy. The list goes on.

Oddly enough, those unconventional remarks are one of the many things she incorporates in her classes that linger in her students’ minds, and end up helping them.

McDuffee grew up in Plano and attended Mercer University in Georgia, where she majored in primary and special education. After graduating in 2018, she taught third grade at Robertson Elementary in Frisco ISD. In the 2021-22 school year, she came to Coppell ISD. She is currently in her fourth year of teaching.

Although teaching history-related subjects wasn’t always in mind for McDuffee, it turned into something she grew fond of post-graduation. She is driven to teach the subject to herself and to others.

“[History] became more of a passion in my adulthood after I graduated from college. I started to understand my surroundings, and the world around me,” McDuffee said. “Last year I worked hard to make sure that I knew the content, so that I can be the best teacher for my students. Every year, I try to find ways to make it more engaging and make sure I understand every possible aspect of AP HUG.”

I am always working harder to better myself and my students.

— Haley McDuffee

Leaving the youth and light-heartedness of third grade and entering the more mature and collected nature of ninth grade is quite the adjustment, but McDuffee has assimilated naturally into this change.

“I loved third grade, but it didn’t fit my personality as well,” McDuffee said. “Ninth graders are more independent and self-sufficient. They are able to have a good time, but they know when it’s time to be serious and get on-task.”

She is able to relate to her students on a deeper level by creating a more sincere connection with her classes. This bond translates into a comfortable environment where students are still able to stay productive.  

“She’s a chill teacher, and always wants us to have a productive and fun atmosphere,” freshman Aryahi Ravi said. 

Due to the stigma that AP courses are hard, boring and no fun, McDuffee ensures that in her class, students are attentive, listening and ready to learn. She seeks out for her students to embrace themselves in the course and have an immersive learning experience. 

“She engages with her students well. When she is teaching, she asks a lot of questions [to the class], she brings in students’ experiences and talks to them,” CHS9 AP Human Geography teacher Shanna Chang said. “She includes them. [She’s] not just talking to them, but having a conversation with them.”

In addition to her cheerful persona are the little whims and activities she sprinkles in during her classroom sessions that make her teaching style distinct from other teachers.

As the first AP in CHS9 student’s high school course load, AP Human Geography can be overwhelming due to its content and word heavy nature. However, McDuffee’s whims and games make it all simpler to comprehend.

“I am all about having fun while working hard. I say odd, quirky things to help kids remember different things. I am very welcoming of joking around so it’s a more relaxing, comfortable [classroom],” McDuffee said. “I include activities such as Speed Vocab where I give students buzzers to answer [vocabulary] questions and play games like Jeopardy to have a fun review before tests.”

McDuffee herself was once an AP student in high school, making her well-versed in the rigorous workload and energy it takes to pertain in these advanced classes. With this in mind, her priority is for students to be learning the information in a coordinated and timely manner to where the concepts are easier to grasp and they can have opportunities to make good use of their time.

“Her class is well put together. She has a systematic approach of running through her class where we never lose time and we always get time to start working on what we need to do,” freshman Anjana Bopanna said. “She taught me how to be on top of [my class work], even with other tasks to do.”

McDuffee presents essential study skills and beneficial resources that guide her students to get the highest score possible for their AP exam in May.

“She created in-depth presentations for each topic which helped me when I started studying for the [AP] exam,” CHS sophomore Keeya Rathod said. “She taught various ways to take notes which came in handy when making a study plan for the exam.”

McDuffee’s classroom is designed to feel like home for her students through the various installments in her room. She provides a comforting place of learning and knowledge. 

CHS9 AP Human Geography teacher Haley McDuffee teaches about diffusion to her first period on Wednesday. McDuffee has taught at CHS9 for two years. (Iniya Nathan)

“Ms. McDuffee has LED lights around her screen, bean-bag chairs in front of the class, decorations, and paintings all around the classroom,” Ravi said. “It all feels homey and cozy.”

McDuffee’s target that she aims for is that her students remain mesmerized in what they learn, not only in her class, but in everything. She takes charge in formulating successful futures for her kids, and firmly believes that teachers shouldn’t appear as mundane to students, but someone students to look up to.

“When teaching, it’s as if you are putting on a performance,” McDuffee said. “You are there to entertain. Of course, [teachers] are supposed to be teaching, but our job is to entertainingly teach the kids.”

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