Math Teacher Bob Plummer to Leave Country Day

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Math Teacher Bob Plummer to Leave Country Day

Hailey Spaeth

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By Hailey Spaeth ’17, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Growing up with an older brother, my childhood consisted of a multitude of stories about his teachers here at Country Day. They’re a menacing, eccentric, and an insanely smart group. Some of them have been here for decades.  I grew up hearing praise (and sometimes horror stories) about them, and Mr. Bob Plummer is amongst this group of teachers. The kooky, seventy-year-old math teacher is an integral part of not only the Upper School faculty, but of the Country Day experience, and this year he will be retiring after 42 years of service to the school. Just as surviving Mrs. Dunn’s Honors English class is a rite of passage, so too is taking one of Mr. Plummer’s classes. Most students say that he’s been here “forever.” He has taught our siblings, parents, teachers, and everyone in between. The hallways will be quite different next year without his punny math t-shirts (always worn over a button-down, of course) and Birkenstock sandals.

Arriving to Country Day in 1974, he is the longest standing teacher the Upper School has ever had. Mr. Plummer was born in Rockland, Maine during the 1940s. He attended Bowdoin College with a major in Mathematics and later received his Master’s degree at the University of Kansas. Having worked at St. Joseph’s College for eight years previously, in 1974 he decided to come to Country Day. He began to teach AP BC Calculus as well as Linear Algebra, two of the most difficult mathematics classes here at Country Day. For the past few years, Mr. Plummer has been partially retired and has taught only two classes this past school year. Despite his reduced coarse load, Mr. Plummer has continued to impact students until the day he left Country Day. Maggie Bernish ’17, one of his AP Calculus students this year, stated that “each class [with Mr. Plummer] was a mystery, like I had no idea what was about to unfold. But I was always guaranteed to learn something cool about math.”

Although I’ve never had him as a teacher, Mr. Plummer subbed for my Honors Algebra II class sophomore year. His teaching style is unlike any teacher I’ve had previously. We got through only two problems in 47 minutes. When the student sitting next to me attempted to answer his question, he considered their answer from every angle, and we went through the whole math problem incorrectly even though half the class knew the student was doing it wrong. By meticulously going through the wrong answer, it helped us to better learn and understand the right one. Although his teaching style is unconventional, it certainly makes an impression on his students. Taylor Boggs ’17 said that “Mr. Plummer taught [her] that there is no such thing as a good wrong answer. And as such, it made [her] realize that you should not be scared to answer a question incorrectly in the math classroom. It was a pleasure to have him this year.”

Teaching some of the most daunting math classes Country Day has to offer, there is no doubt that Mr. Plummer is brilliant. He has been known to connect most with the brightest and most involved math students. Mr. Plummer will be remembered as not only one of the most intelligent teachers Country Day has seen but one of the most peculiar. What distinguishes Country Day from other schools is our students’ ability to think outside the box and to question what we are learning rather than memorize facts. A class with Bob Plummer just does that; it makes us think outside the realm of a normal math class. Country Day will certainly not be the same without his Indiana Jones hat bobbing throughout the halls next year.

 

* Referenced some background information from “Life in the Abstract with Upper School Math Teacher Robert Plummer”