- Alma School District
Likeable Edwards fits in nicely with Alma English department 3/9/23
Likable Edwards fits in nicely with Alma English department
By Kevin Taylor
David Edwards can’t remember how it happened. I can’t recall the year, either.
But for as long as he can remember, and certainly all throughout high school, the former Alma Airedale has answered to the nickname, ‘Skippy.’
"I don't really remember how it started," he said. "It just happened one day."
Edwards may not be sure of the origins of his unique nickname. But there’s no denying his presence before and after classes each day in the 1400 hallway at AHS.
Edwards greets each student in front of his door (and some he doesn’t even have in class) by their first name. “Hey, Easton, how are you doing?’
“Hi Tyler, welcome to fifth hour!’
"I've always had an infinity with faces," Edwards said. "I can remember somebody's face, but names are hard. You always want to greet a kid and let them know that you see them. But it's hard; you get 45 minutes to teach your content, make a connection, and do anything else teachers are required to do.
"I've always felt like it was important to know the kid's name."
A 2014 AHS graduate, Edwards is a first-year English teacher at Alma High School — even though that wasn’t necessarily his first choice.
As for calling kids by their first names? At least some of the credit falls on the late Toney McMurray.
"I went to an APU History training event one time and T-Mac (McMurray happened to be at the same one," Edwards said. "We got in there and he's sitting in the very back and he said, 'Right here, Skippy!'
"I was like, ‘He doesn't just remember my name, but he remembers my nickname!' That's how I want to be."
Edwards’ attention to detail hasn’t been lost on his advisors, either.
“Literacy wasn’t where his licensure license was, but he was more than willing to do it,” Alma assistant principal Jason Reeves said. “At the end of the day, education is about people. If you can surround yourself with good people that are willing to work, you’re going to come out on top.”
“Going to school here was probably the biggest blessing I ever had,” Edwards said. “I actually grew up about 10 minutes away; I was closer to Mountainburg than Alma. But my dad (David) graduated from Alma, and my brother (Josh), who is a few years older than me, went here. And my sister (Tiala), who is a junior, is still going here.”
Edwards said he was inspired by a number of Alma teachers, including his kindergarten teacher, Rosie Newton. “You would see her at Walmart and she’d call you by your name,” he said.
McMurray and Erin Mills were also big influences.
“T-Mac and Ms. Mills impressed a lot on me,” Edwards said. “I like social studies just because of the way they taught and the type of people they were.”
Initially, teaching didn’t appear to be in the cards for Edwards.
“I went to college and I was going to do rehabilitation science and occupational therapy. But as I took my anatomy class, I struggled,” he said. “I was like, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me?’ I was like, ‘What do I want to do?’
“I started taking educational classes and started busting it.”
Edwards became engaged to his wife (former AHS student Madison Roe) while in college. And, to graduate within four years, he loaded up.
“I took 18 hours in my junior and senior year to get out in four years,” he said.
Edwards and the former Madison Roe are the proud parents of three-year-old Cal.
“It (parenting) is the most humbling and best thing to ever happen to you,” he said. “I’m not a perfect parent, but when somebody doesn’t treat their kid right, I’m like, ‘That’s the best thing that’s ever going to happen to you.’
“I love that I get to help Cal be the best person he can be. Maddie and I always say, ‘We want to grow the best human.’
“It’s a fun time.”
Class of 2014
Edwards wasn’t the best football player to ever don the No. 43 Airedale jersey. But he played well enough to earn accolades from his coaches and peers, earning all-conference and all-state honors as a senior.
“My senior year, we won the conference championship and made it to the semifinals, and I’m like, “I’m so glad I stuck with it.’ You can look back knowing you were part of something.”
Edwards played his senior year for coach Doug Loughridge.
“My junior year, I honestly thought about quitting, which is what a lot of kids do,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’ve been getting hit over my head and what am I getting out of this?’ But coach (Jason) Reeves never gave up on me, and coach Loughridge came in and said something that stuck with me.
“He (Loughridge) sat me down and said, ‘You guys are a bunch of average guys. We don’t have the fastest or the strongest, but you can outwork them.’
“That was just what I needed; that’s what a lot of us needed.”
“Whenever he played for us, he was such a hard worker,” Reeves said. “He was a, ‘Yes Sir, No Sir’ type of player. He’s the type of person you want to be around. He had reached out to me and Mr. (Brian) Kirkendoll, ‘Hey, I want to come back home.’
“And honestly, if you’ve got good people, that’s who you want to go with.”
Edwards played baseball, too. But the former outfielder admits he shouldn’t have played his senior season.
“I got in a little bit my junior year when Collin Ogilvie and them were seniors, and my senior year (2014) I kind of fell out of love with baseball,” Edwards said. “We had that big senior year of football and my body was really worn down. I had meniscus surgery, and I had to rehab a little bit.
“Looking back, I probably should have quit, because my heart wasn’t into it. I worked hard, but at that point, I was really tired.”
Change of scenery
After college, Edwards was working at Walgreens one day when he reached out to a member of the Mulberry faculty.
“I made a comment to a guy from Mulberry, ‘Y’all got any jobs over there?’ He said, ‘Yes, our social studies teacher is leaving.’ I applied for it before they even posted it, and I got an interview, and I was there for four years,” Edwards said. “During the interview, they asked me if I wanted to coach. I know the commitment coaching takes. They said, ‘Our volleyball team didn’t win any games last year, so there’s not any pressure.’
“Once I started doing it, I figured out how much I love coaching. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to be the best at it.”
Coaching triggered in Edwards what his family had taught him years before.
“It really hit home when I started coaching it,” Edwards said. “My mom and dad, and brother, and the whole family really impressed upon me the idea of hard work. ‘What are you giving?’ That part was never hard to understand. When a coach says, ‘You guys have to work hard.’ “I’m like, ‘I'm already doing that.’
“That wasn’t a problem.”
Edwards taught multiple grade levels at Mulberry. “I had six different preps,” he said.
After four years, last spring, Edwards got a phone call from Alma officials.
“They said the first step is to pass your praxis and you’ve got to apply,” he said. “I passed my praxis and here I am.”