Calculus teacher Walker Yane is the ultimate mathlete

Margot Nissen

Alex Cirino

If you’ve ever been to the back corner of the fourth floor, you’ve likely seen a tall, moustachioed gentleman wearing an illustrious belt buckle and flannel with rolled-up sleeves loitering next to room 427. Or maybe at a Wilson sporting event you’ve spotted that same guy—now sporting sunglasses—screaming his heart out, cheering for one of his many students. That lanky man is math teacher Walker Yane.  

Yane grew up on a farm in Oldenburg, Indiana, but attended high school an hour away in Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout high school, he became involved in sports such as basketball and running, but knew his strong suit was mathematics. So, it was only fitting that he took on STEM related majors when he attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. “I started off in chemistry and quickly decided to move to physics,” Yane said. “Then for my sophomore and junior year, I attempted to double major in physics and math.” After dealing with the difficulty of double-majoring, Yane settled on math.

Along with countless hours of math work, Yane ran competitively at Earlham. He started every year on both the cross country and track teams but spent a lot of time training and improving his running. The results showed, as he earned tenth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) cross country race in 2004. By the end of his senior season, Yane qualified for the NCAA national track meet where he finished eighth in the steeplechase event, earning him All-American honors. In 2017, Yane was inducted into the Earlham Hall of Fame. Yane still runs today in many local marathons, half-marathons, ten milers, and pretty much whatever race is going on, winning the majority of them.  

Despite his athletic success, Yane was focused on his math studies in college. Yane became a teaching assistant for a few math courses at Earlham, including calculus. However, his teaching stint was put on pause upon his graduation from college. “When I graduated, I didn’t have a [full] plan. My plan was to basically move back home and take a year to kind of figure out my life,” Yane explained.

Yane’s grandmother opposed that idea and suggested that he apply for a free masters in education program at the University of Notre Dame. He was accepted and decided to join the program, where he was sent to teach at an under-resourced school in Mobile, Alabama for two years. “You tend not to turn down a free master’s degree from Notre Dame,” Yane added. For those couple of years, he got paid very little but in the end earned his master’s degree. From there he taught Algebra 2 classes at an all-girls school in St. Louis, Missouri, but sought to instruct higher-level classes. 

If the word ‘fun’ doesn’t pop into your mind when you’re in a math class, Yane will always try to change that. “One of the things that I really like to bring to my teaching is that math is not just a written memorization level of study,” Yane said. “People always think, ‘oh, you’re in mathematics, you don’t have a creative mind.’ But in reality, I believe math can be extremely creative.” With an immense variety of problem solving that can be done, Yane tries to expose his students to many of the same topics that sparked his interest in math when he was in high school.

“I really found math very interesting. I started just reading, just math articles and books and started trying to do some studying on my ow

n. And so I decided, well, I might as well go back and get a masters in mathematics.” After his teaching spell in St. Louis, Yane attended graduate school for a year at Miami University in Ohio. While he was studying for his masters, Yane also taught undergraduate calculus and pre-calculus, courses he’d been longing to be part of since his career had kicked off.

After a stressful year at grad school, Yane came down to DC and took a teaching job at Wilson. Yane enjoys being able to teach a good mix of AP and Honors-based classes and seeing the quirkiness of Wilson’s student body. “The diverse interests of the students, I think is really incredible,” Yane said. “I enjoy having students eating lunch in my room and being able to talk about where they want to go and what they want to do.” 

Yane plans to teach at Wilson for many years to come. With a balance of great academics and students, he doesn’t see many other schools comparing to Wilson. “It’s going to be hard to move to a different school because the students here are really interesting and I don’t know if I would get that same level of interest at a new school.”