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Genius Cave

Seeing the math office from more than an acute angle

The Math Office isn’t only a place for teaching. It is also a place for moldy fridges, sock enthusiasts, cribbage tournaments, undercover musicians and a whole bunch of inside jokes.

David Peabody is a new addition to the Math Department. One of his earliest memories of his first year at U Prep is one about a smelly refrigerator.

“I was the one who discovered the fridge. It was pretty disgusting,” longtime teacher Jerry Gallaher said.

“It was horrible. I think some food had been in there for months. [Ragini] Narasimhan opened the door and the smell was all over and we said ‘close the door close the door!’ The fridge had mold in it,” added Peabody.

Alongside moldy fridges, there’s an actual sock theme going around between Ian McInerney and Peabody, who are now sock buddies, comparing and occasionally gifting socks.

“For fashion you’re supposed to have one piece of flare. I have quite a few different crazy socks,” Peabody said.

Have they repeatedly been witnessed  passionately talk about socks? Indeed.

The Math Office’s inside jokes range from having a Dan Chestnut quote list, and jokes about Peabody’s sticker collection, to Gallaher’s mustache.

“Well, there’s just mustache stuff. He’s got mustache socks and a big mustache above his desk,” Peabody said.

Because they spend so much time together, the math teachers have learned a lot about each other.

“Mr. Chestnut will just walk in, -bam- door open, loud noise, make one statement, then walk out again. Am I supposed to do something with that?” Narasimhan said.

On a serious side note, there is great mutual appreciation and respect among all members of the Math Department.

“One of the things I admire about all [of] my colleagues is that they have a lot of good ideas and are always looking at ways to improve their teaching and what we’re doing as a department” Gallaher said.

“I think I’d trust any of the math teachers to take on my class at any time. I can have that conversation and know they would do a good job. There comes that trust about content knowledge which is kind of nice to have. I also have faith that they are student-centric and that it’s not all about their idea,” Narasimhan said.

The Math Office has a few downsides. Along with the distractions of a group office, the heating situation is weird, and the large amount of gossip—about and by students and teachers—can be uncomfortable. And naturally, Chestnut wants his own room.

On the other hand, everyone went on and on about how much they value being in one room, where they can easily collaborate, help each other on weaknesses, work on their strengths, bounce ideas off of each other, and share teaching techniques.

“[The Math Office] is a benefit to students, [they] become more comfortable with talking to a bunch of different people, even if it’s not their own teacher,” Gallaher said.

Well summarized by McInerney: “The Math Office is almost indescribable sometimes. It is a place of productivity and distraction and collaboration and argument. Argument over anything.”

By Soha Kawtharani

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