Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


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Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


Looking towards the audience, Ben Krieger sing his original song “Burden On Me” during his set at Sunfest.
'Me, My Guitar, and My Notebook': Ben Krieger performs at SunFest
26 seconds ago
Yelling into his microphone, country musician Noah Hunton performs at SunFest as part of his mini south-Floridian tour, across venues from West Palm Beach to Key West.
Tuning Up SunFest
May 8, 2024

From Teaching Suncoast Chargers to Dreyfoos Jaguars

Math teacher Traci De León brings humor and dedication to teaching at a new school
Sofia Hennessey-Correa
New math teacher Traci De León describes limits in relation to vertical asymptotes to her second period class. Mrs. De León decided to teach at Dreyfoos to be closer to her husband, jazz director Christopher De León, and to experience the school’s art areas. “We worked together at the beginning of our careers 12 years ago in Orlando,” De León said. “The biggest reason I enjoyed working with him was because I can cheer them (the students) on because … both my husband and I knew the students personally.”

The first day of school is filled with new beginnings, not only for students but also staff, like math teacher Traci De León. When Mrs. De León first stepped foot on campus, she noted the differing clothing styles of students and struggled to get used to block scheduling coming from her former job at Suncoast Community High School. After transitioning schools to be with her husband, jazz director Christoper De León, Mrs. De León adjusts to life at Dreyfoos. 

Part of De León’s reason to switch schools was to connect to her students not only through math, but also through the arts.

“It was just a lot more meaningful to me to be invested in the students that I’m in the audience for,” Mrs. De León said. “So that was a big reason why I really wanted to come here. Suncoast was great. I have nothing negative to say, but I felt like I was missing that piece because they aren’t as arts driven.” 

Strings senior Joseph “JT” Molnar uses his iPad to copy notes from the SMART Board. “I think she (Mrs. De León) is a very enthusiastic teacher, and I am looking forward to the rest of the year with her,” Molnar said.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

When students enrolled in AP Calculus AB and College Algebra learned there would be a new teacher, some were nervous for the year to come, including communications senior Leonie Okunyade, who is in her sixth period AP Calculus AB class. 

“I was a little nervous about having her as my math teacher, especially when I heard that she came from Suncoast,” Okunyade said. “But she came, and she was making jokes and just having a great time at the school, and I loved it.”

Growing up in Ohio, Mrs. De León always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She was a dedicated member of the color guard and drum corps in high school. Wanting to have a lighter academic load, she skipped math her senior year and focused on what she needed to do to graduate. However, math was a subject she loved and always did well in. 

Originally wanting to teach elementary education, Mrs. De León went to Sinclair Community College and received her Associate in Science. She then transferred to Wright State University to get her Bachelor of Science in Integrated Mathematics. Mrs. De León also received her Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University. However, without her senior year math credit, she received a low grade in the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT) and was placed in an entry level math course. 

“I started at the bottom, and I was able to work my way through. Just because you’re not where you need to be right now doesn’t mean you can’t get there. Look at me. I was at the bottom, learning how to add and subtract numbers as a 20 year old, and then I went through all that calculus and all those upper level classes.”

Initially, she attempted to switch out of the course but was unable to and instead focused on teaching her classmates who needed extra help. 

Students watch while Mrs. De León draws a graph to explain a question. Hanging on the walls of her classroom are “inspirational” and math-related posters. “Mrs. De León has so far made the AP Calculus AB material understandable for all (of) her students,” visual sophomore Claire Natanek said. “She is a very down-to-earth teacher.”
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

“​​I would teach everybody how to do all these basic math skills. And I was like, ‘You know what, maybe I shouldn’t teach little kids. Maybe I should teach math. I have always been good at it.’ And then I went for it.”

Mrs. De León did her first year of teaching in Columbus, Ohio while waiting for her husband to finish his college program and obtain his degree. She then moved to Tampa and later found a job in West Palm Beach, where she taught at Suncoast for about two years before switching to Dreyfoos.

Despite being at Dreyfoos for only a month, Mrs. De León has already made an impact on students like visual arts sophomore Claire Natanek, who described her as a “very down to earth teacher.” Additionally, communications junior Bailee Simmers expressed enthusiasm for the class.

As Mrs. De León reviews a problem, visual junior Siena Barefoot raises her hand to ask a question. “Mrs. De León seems like a great teacher,” Barefoot said. “She is extremely organized, good at explaining concepts, and engaging. Usually during class we have time to do our classwork or homework and ask for help.”
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

“I could tell she’s really passionate about what she says and how she teaches and the way she composes her notes and her lessons,” Simmers said with a big smile. “All of it’s very in depth and easy to understand. I really like that quality in a math teacher, and that’s what I feel makes a really good math teacher.” 

Suncoast junior Ethan Walker, who had Mrs. De León for AP Calculus AB while she taught there, attests that she was “one of the best math teachers” he ever had and notes how prepared he felt for his AP Calculus AB exam because of her.

“She was always just positive,” Walker said. “She is such a good teacher because she knew what she was doing. She knew the curriculum. She knew everything about it and was just always willing to help. She would always go through the notes. And then she’d be like, ‘Are you ready?’ And everyone would say no. And she’d be like, ‘Come on, people,’ but she would never show frustration.” 

Theatre junior Maya Gary writes in the binder Mrs. De León provided for all of her students to follow along with the AP Calculus curriculum. “Mrs. De León’s printed notes make it easy to follow along with the lesson, and I like how we have example questions within … that let us practice actual problems while still learning the skill,” Gary said.
(Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

Mrs. De León is proud of the fact that she was not the student enrolled in the most advanced math levels in high schools. She believes it gives her a better perspective to be able to teach both those with the desire to be enrolled in the higher math courses and those like her who might not prioritize math in high school. She aims to minimize the stress of her classes and encourage all students to pay attention, keep up with the homework, and review concepts from previous math courses.

“I also want especially the AP calculus students that I teach to know that my class is preparing them for the future whether they pass the exam or not,” Mrs. De León said.“They’re going to get stronger, and it will push them and prepare them for college. ​​So the biggest thing for me is not actually what I’m teaching, it’s what the students can gain from what I’m teaching.” 

Though she misses her students at Suncoast, Mrs. De León is excited to be working with her spouse and hopes to make her new classroom a comfortable place for her new students to learn and grow not only as mathematicians but, more importantly, as humans. 

“I make 100 mistakes a day,” Mrs De León said. “Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you can learn from it and improve with it. The biggest thing is not actually the content that I’m teaching, it’s learning that it’s okay to try something and fail and get back up and try again.”

Mrs. De León chuckles as she writes down notes to cast to the SMART Board. She described her advice for other teachers new to Dreyfoos: “Be flexible because every school is different. Every school has their own way of doing things,” Mrs. De León said. “In the beginning, it’s like, alright, this is a little different … but we will get used to it. So I would say just go with the flow until you get used to things.” (Sofia Hennessey-Correa)

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Ankith Sureddi
Ankith Sureddi, Website Staffer
Ankith Sureddi is a second-year website staffer on the Muse. Ankith is passionate about writing and science and wants to pursue a career in either the medical field, research field, or medical journalism, leading him to find innovative ways of combining these two areas into one as a muse staffer. Outside of the Muse, Ankith loves to try new restaurants and food and spend quality time with the people he loves. Ankith looks forward to another great year on the publication by helping to inform his peers and create a positive impact on the Dreyfoos community with his fellow Muse staffers.
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