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Mr. Langley goes to Washington

Brian Langley sports a "Dominate Life" T-shirt, made popular by his students.

Physics teacher Brian Langley explains a lab experiment to students.

During his teaching career, Brian Langley challenged students to take ownership for their own education and learning, an approach that took him all the way to the White House.
Beginning his 17th year in the Novi Community School District, Langley will once again infuse his high school classes with a sports metaphor meant to help students own their education. 
“After my first semester of teaching, I wasn't satisfied with my performance as a teacher,” said Langley, a high school physics teacher. “I wanted my students to aim higher. I dreamt up this approach that I didn’t want them to just take my class, I wanted them to dominate it. 
Langley’s message has resonated with Novi High School students ever since. 
Students can often be seen wearing T-shirts that proclaim “Dominate Life” on the front with a logo on the back depicting a pair of boxing gloves. Langley said, “I tell my students that I want them to think of one of those boxing gloves as their mind and the other as their attitude. When they put those two things together they can dominate.” 
A true champion for his students, Langley’s enthusiasm and dedication to his craft earned him a presidential invitation to the White House. 
On September 8, Langley was among 213 educators from across the country who received the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award, presented annually since 1983, is the highest recognition that K-12 math or science teachers may receive for their outstanding work in the United States. 
“I was just excited to hear about it,” Langley said of the award. “It’s such a unique opportunity and I couldn’t wait to share it with my wife, who is also a science teacher.” 
The 40-year-old Langley attended the ceremony, where he received a $10,000 gift from the National Science Foundation. 
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to meet other science and math teachers from around the country and make some great connections,” said Langley, in an August interview. “I am looking forward to the experience and hearing what else is going on around the country.” 
Candidates for the award were nominated by colleagues, administrators, students and parents, and were selected by a national panel of scientists and educators. 
It’s that kind of engagement with students that persuaded Novi High School Principal Nicole Carter to nominate Langley for this year’s award. In her recommendation letter, she described the physics teacher as someone who is “extremely organized, very conscientious and exceptionally efficient in all of the duties that he not only is responsible for, but volunteers to complete.” 
Langley isn’t driven by personal accolades. He’s motivated by goals and the achievements reached by his students, especially those who previously thought of science as unsurmountable. 
I am extremely self-reflective and always trying to find ways that I can do things better,” he said. I have a couple goals in my classroom: I want them to learn as much in my classroom as in any other classroom, and I want them to enjoy and be as enthusiastic about what we’re learning as in any other class. When I get the sense from kids that I’m meeting that, then that’s what makes me happy. But, for the most part, I’m always trying to move forward and get better.” 
Along with teaching, Langley is also a Science Content Area Leader for the district and serves on numerous committees, including one that led to the formation of Professional Learning Communities throughout Novi Community School District. 
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