Dr. Farley: Educators of Excellence


Honored as the West Orange High School’s 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year, Dr. William Y. Farley is one of the most prominent, yet humble black figures in West Orange. 

“I hadn’t expected it… I feel humbled… I look forward to teaching and I hope that as I retire, there’s something I can look back on and say it was all worth it.” Sadly, Dr. Farley will retire at the end of the 2023 school year. 

Dr. Farley is a Music Educator at WOHS teaching the Honors Chamber Choir, Tenor/Bass Choir, Piano Lab and the advisor of the Jubilee Choir and Boys Step Team with contributions to the school in all forms. “I’ve been through everything: working with the students, going on trips, creating the step team and the choir. It was all worth it.”

His passion for music stems from his  musical family. His dad played guitar, his mother sang, and he grew up in a church. At 16, he took interest in music because of his high school choir which led to his interest in music and wanting to play them [instruments].

Originally, Farley was interested in a career in music performance, but reality soon hit him when he realized that path would not guarantee financial security. However, this directed his interest to music education.

He remembered his middle school and high school choir teachers, people that had inspired him from a young age and showed perseverance, one teacher even receiving the National Choral award, “I was like, well, maybe that’s something I can do. I’m sort of a shy person, but I think I could do this. That’s how I got into education.”

With music education, not only would Farley continue his passion for playing music, but also he could share his passion with others and find it within the talent that lies in many students. 

One of Farley’s proudest initiatives as a teacher at West Orange is his creation of the boys’ step team, Ab-Salute. 

In 2000, Dr. Farley first arrived in West Orange from a school which had a boys’ step team, meanwhile West Orange High only had a girls drill team. So he gathered a few guys to start stepping. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But it turned out to be a really great initiative because the guys put together this team and without me even giving my input, the talent had just come pouring out.” 

Ab-Salute recently won a competition in New York which is a huge accomplishment. “New York teams, that’s like unheard of.” said Farley. New York step teams are some of the most elite competitors and for West Orange to take on that victory showed that the team gave it their all. “Year after year they are a group of talented guys who really put their best foot forward.”

Dr. Farley has been teaching for over 30 years and has felt it’s the last year for him. However, with his passion for music, he wants to continue to work with music and teach in other forms after retirement such as piano lessons, spend some time writing music, and maybe more into ministry. 

After years of teaching, Dr. Farley learned of the real impact teaching could have on students. “If you are looking to go into a teaching career, there’s so much that you can [do to] impress upon young folks… And teachers don’t know it, but they can be very influential.”

It’s important that students grow up with notable teachers whom they can relate to and have genuine connections with. It enriches the learning environment and the right people will leave communities with the right memories. “What’s impacted me a lot is the faith that students put in you. When they look to fulfill their dreams, they look at you, and a lot of them go out and pursue those things that you inspired them to do. I see a lot of kids who are teaching who are in music, in my field, and it makes it, again, all worth it.”