PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
It’s not often that a utility player wins the league’s most
valuable player award, but that’s exactly what happened to
Chris Laughland (BA 2006).
Laughland serves many roles at Walden Grove High
School in Sahuarita, Arizona, a two-year-old school located
15 miles south of Tucson. He teaches English/language
arts, serves as advisor to the student council, mentors other
instructors, and is the head coach of the baseball team
(which made it to the state playoffs this past spring).
In 2013 he received a Milken Educator Award—
considered the Oscar of teaching. The award recognizes
early- to mid-career kindergarten to twelfth grade
education professionals for their teaching methods,
achievements, and engagement with students, and
is presented annually in 49 states and the District of
Columbia. The honor comes with an unrestricted award
For Laughland, there’s no cookie-cutter approach
to his teaching. “There is a challenge with every kid,”
he explains. “However, going as far as simply talking to
students as young adults goes a long way in getting them
to comprehend what is being taught in the classroom.”
Laughland credits Purdue English education professor
Janet Alsup for preparing him for the classroom and
helping to hone his current approach.
“I do see some Purdue fingerprints here: his creativity,
emphasis on technology to excite young learners, and his
expertise in the teaching of reading and writing,” Alsup
says. “He also is clearly involved in the lives of his students
both in and outside of school and understands that
inspiring students can happen in multiple contexts.”
Chris Laughland is surrounded by his students after winning a 2013 Milken Award. Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation.