Madison educators, students mourn teacher who died in kayaking accident

Madison Early College High School students and educators are mourning the loss of 39-year-old math teacher Adam Worley. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Madison Early College High School principal Jennifer Caldwell talked through tears Monday after learning the school's 39-year-old math teacher, Adam Worley, had died.

"I think we're still in shock," Caldwell said. "It's kind of surreal that we're here and he's not here with us."

Caldwell gathered with students and faculty Monday, the day before classes resumed.

"I just got a call from his (Worley's) sister on New Year's Day with the tragic news that he had had a kayaking accident on the Outer Banks of North Carolina," Caldwell said.

No other details about the accident have been released.

But, for his students and fellow educators, the focus is on the loss of a mentor, friend and teacher who wanted to see every student he taught succeed in math and life.

"His spirit was contagious," Caldwell said. "No day could be bad around Adam."

"He actually made the dreaded topic of math fun," said Samantha Nowlin.

Seth Mace, who was in Worley's freshman Math 1 class last year, was in disbelief. Mace, who was close to Worley, tried calling his cell phone upon hearing the news.

"It just went straight to voicemail. And I thought, 'I don't want this to happen, I don't want this to be real,'" Mace said in a faltering voice.

"He was the type of person that always gave me the best advice that I needed, and he always backed it up with scripture. He was the most Christian person I know."

"He was more than your teacher, he was your best friend," said Cabe McKinney, who also took Math 1 from Worley.

Worley's friends said he has two young daughters, ages five and seven. One daughter is in kindergarten, the other is in second grade. Both attend Brush Creek Elementary.

Students said Worley was a well-known outdoorsman, nature enthusiast and adventurist.

Worley's Facebook page showed various outdoor photos of him, including one of him from the Grand Canyon.

Peggy Roberts, who oversees the online classes for the school, was heartbroken over Worley's death, saying her son and Worley grew up together.

"He was so full of life," Roberts said. "He was a person you could rely on. He was there for the kids."

Linda Ammons, who teaches Math 2, said Worley's students were always prepared for the next level, which she taught.

"He always wanted to know how they were doing," Ammons said. "When I got his kids, they always had a passion for learning and wanted to know math."

"He was the best person I ever knew, from the inside out" said Jennifer Bryson, a counselor at the school. "He was one of those people who could find good in everyone he met. He loved helping people."

A post from Madison Middle encouraged students and faculty to wear red to school Wednesday, since red was Worley's favorite color.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off