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At the helm of Viking football

Molalla Middle School science teacher Dan Leighton will be missed as a coach in Molalla, but he will continue teaching and inspiring kids.


For the past three years, Dan Leighton divided his time between Colton’s High School football team, and Molalla’s Middle School track team. Last year, after nine years of coaching at the middle school, Leighton made head coach there. But after one year in the position, he resigned and is using his 21 years of coaching expertise as the head coach of Vikings football.

Reflecting on his experiences with the middle school track team he remarked on some of his favorite memories: “This year having our middle school girls team place second at the meet of champions; and also being able to coach Mont Childs at the AAU Junior Olympics.”

In the thirteen years that he has been involved with the Molalla community, the Mt. Angel resident has positively impacted many local youths, encouraging young people to make good choices.

“If a child messes up, we talk about the choices that they make,” he said. “It is important for them to take ownership.”

After 23 years of teaching, Leighton is well aware of how a teen’s mind works. “I try to use real life situations that students are familiar with,” he said, adding that using sports examples in the classroom helps kids grasp science concepts. “It connects kids with the curriculum in a more appropriate way,” he said, “instead of just reading it out of a text book.”

And Leighton hasn’t limited himself to the classroom and field. As the Todos Juntos Molalla Diversion Coordinator, Leighton works with at-risk teens, in conjunction with Clackamas County Juvenile Department and the Molalla Police Department.

“A lot of them just don’t have any direction,” Leighton said. “I try to open up their eyes a lot … We try to spark interest. That way, they keep themselves busy and out of trouble.”

Whether he is on the field or in the classroom, Leighton strives to empower and educate youths, and he will continue to do so in the future. “I want to spend the rest of my days teaching in Molalla,” he said. “I love the kids, and I love the community. I totally plan on retiring in this area.”



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