Corcoran departs math classroom with objective of earning his doctorate


Dianne Caravela

Upper School Mathematics teacher Carl Corcoran works at his desk in the math wing. “It [SPA] was a really good place for me to learn and develop as a teacher,” Corcoran said.

After spending the past four years teaching Upper School Mathematics, Carl Corcoran is headed west to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at the University of California, Davis. Corcoran came to St. Paul Academy and Summit School after finishing his bachelor’s degree at Macalester College in Saint Paul.
“As soon as I graduated, I applied for and got the math teaching job. I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “Once I got the job, I never really looked back.”
When he looks back now, Corcoran has a good feeling about his time at SPA.
“It was a really good place for me to learn and develop as a teacher,” he said.
The list of things he will miss about the school includes teaching Honors Precalc, the fantastic school lunches, and most of all, his colleagues.
“[My colleagues] have taught me a lot about teaching, and it’s a very open and social atmosphere in the math department,” Corcoran said. “I’m going to miss being able to just walk over to a colleague’s desk and strike up a conversation about math.”
Although Corcoran feels that SPA was a good place for him, he is ready to begin an exciting new chapter of his life, or repeat an old one, by returning to the role of a student.
“I’m looking forward to looking forward to learning new mathematics and being a student again. Having taught for four years since I was last a student in college, I think I am going to come into the experience with a totally different attitude and outlook,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran will not be giving up teaching entirely though, as he plans on being a teacher’s assistant, most likely for a first-year calculus class while he pursues his own studies, which he feels will likely be reminiscent of what he’s doing now.

After finishing his Ph.D., Corcoran has no idea what life will bring next, although he says he would definitely consider returning to teaching in some capacity.
“I know what I’m doing for the next five years, and after that, who knows?” Corcoran said.