Denman: Teacher, Coach, and ‘Professional Freshman Wrangler’


Kamden Bushka, Arts and Entertainment Editor

WOODBURY — Toby Denman is known to put a smile on anyone’s face. Whether you see him in the halls or are lucky enough to be in one of his science classes, you know there is never a dull moment with Denman around. 

Denman teaches biology and integrated science at Nonnewaug. He also coaches the boys’ soccer team and assists with coaching the girls’ basketball team. 

Because Denman describes his job as being a “professional freshman wrangler.” 

Denman’s favorite part of his job is spending time with students and colleagues. He says he likes to work hard while still finding something to laugh about.

He added that some job some highlights of the job include teaching the “Three Fs of lab safety: No fights, no floods, no fires,” issuing a complementary “good hustle” when someone’s work or class participation warrants it, and reminding people to “settle down” if they’ve gotten a little worked up about something.

Denman is a great role model to his students and athletes on and off the field.

Denman is a great coach because he helps you to realize your potential and successes even when you don’t. Of course he gives constructive feedback on the game and particular moments, but he also takes the time to point out individual efforts that may be overlooked,” said Anna Culkin, a junior at NHS. 

“You feel like a valued member of the team, and his support can really help get you into a better and more positive mindset if you are struggling,” she added. 

As a teacher and coach, Denman has been a positive influence for many kids here at Nonnewaug.

“He always pushes me to not just be the best on the field, but he teaches me how to be the best role model for younger students off the field,” said Brendan Burke, junior and soccer player a NHS.

Denman’s mother and sister were both teachers, which played a role in him becoming one, too. When he was in high school, his sister got him a job at a summer camp. Working with the kids convinced him to become a teacher instead of getting a job in the business or medical field. 

Denman noted that teaching has changed a lot in the past 20 years, but more so in the past year due to Covid. 

“After graduating from college with a degree in biology, I went back and completed a master’s in education.  Flash forward 20 years or so, and I’m responding to your email after a day of Google Meets, Edpuzzles, and Gizmos,” said Denman. 

Denman’s ability to work hard while having a sense of humor is a quality that makes him such a remarkable asset to Nonnewaug. 

“He is always in a positive mood despite shortcomings in games or practice. I think that him being able to keep a focused and uplifting mental state despite the events surrounding him has always given our team an edge,” said Culkin. “Freshman year he helped me study for the bio midterm while I was practicing by asking me questions from the study guide as I played.”