DBHS photography teacher honored as top educator

Amy Miyahara, Asst. A&E Editor

Not everyone is able to turn their passion into a career, but Diamond Bar High School photography teacher William Foley shares his love for taking photos with his students daily. Foley was selected  as the school’s Teacher of the Year last month.

Foley received the Teacher of the Year honor on April 21, at a staff appreciation lunch hosted by the Magnificent Seven parent groups. The award was voted on by DBHS teachers.

In addition to being named the school-wide Teacher of the Year, on May 2 Foley was named Walnut Valley Unified School District Teacher of the Year out of over 600 teachers in the district.

District and school administrators surprised Foley during his second period class with the announcement. (His reaction was recorded and can be found on the DBHS website.)

“It was probably one of the greatest honors of my life…I honestly didn’t see it coming, and I feel like [the staff] noticed what I was doing, and they cared enough to show that by selecting me,” Foley said. “I just feel good about the fact that I had a lot of positive reinforcement from the people at the school.”

Foley first developed an interest in photography when he was given a 35mm single-lens camera from his father as a senior at Indiana University, inspiring him to enroll in a photojournalism class.

Foley received a degree from Indiana University as a physical education major but also obtained a supplementary credential in photography.

He taught P.E. at three Catholic schools over 18 years, moving on to teaching P.E. and computer skills at all nine WVUSD elementary schools.

He then taught photography at Ron Hockwalt Academies for five years before coming to DBHS, where he is currently in his seventh year of teaching.

In addition to teaching, Foley volunteers his time to take photos of athletic and other campus events. Foley first got involved with taking photos for the school when he ran into the editor of the weekly Diamond Bar newspaper at the district office and offered to take pictures of high school athletics for the paper. Although that position only lasted a year, he continued photographing school events.

Now, Foley’s photos are posted on his website.

From there, they are uploaded to the school website by DBHS technology coordinator Randy Thomas. Some of the photos are posted to DBHS’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as used in the Yearbook.

“I do it because I love shooting, but it’s another way for me to connect with the kids here in school because they probably wouldn’t even know who I was, other than my own students,” Foley said. “I wanted to be involved somehow in the school other than just my classroom, but doing something that I love.”

Foley plans on teaching for four more years, stating that he enjoys helping students better understand photography.

“I have such a passion for photography, and I like sharing that with my students. I like teaching them how to become better photographers. It makes me feel like I made a little bit of a difference for them.”