The Likely Answer: A Rational Ms. Pugh

Camille Summers

“The majority of functions exist on all of ‘x’,” says Ms. Pugh.

For this column, we give a teacher in a department the following scenario: If I was taking a test in your course and I had no clue what the answer was, what could I write down that would give me the best opportunity to be correct? Therefore... “the likely answer.”

I asked Math teacher Ms. Pugh about the likely answer for her subject. 

I know you’re wondering what she could possibly say…”2x” “√3”? 

After careful consideration, Ms. Pugh, who teaches Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and AP Calculus AB, says, “I got it. The domain is all real numbers. It’s true for most functions. That’s probably your safest route for the domain, but it’s math. It could be anything.”

I do wish I knew this during my test (it would make my work easier), but it does make sense. “The majority of functions exist on all of ‘x’,” says Ms. Pugh. “All polynomials. It’s only the most transcendental ones where that’s not the case.”

Ms. Pugh had a harder time deciding what the most unlikely answer was. It couldn’t be a simple number because mathematically, every number has an even chance of being the result. Eventually, she concluded with a term more frequently used on the 2nd floor, “Transcendentalism.” 

“It’s more of an English term,” she says. Attempting to tie it back to the real reason that it’s an unlikely mathematical answer, she says,  “It’s a philosophy that is the opposite of rationalism. IT wouldn’t be mistaken for math. That’s why it’s an unlikely answer. Rationalism is logic. So like philosophy and science with mathematical steps. So I guess it really is the unlikely answer.”

Ms. Pugh has been a well-loved teacher in the Lovett math department for the past four years. Her two outside-of-class topics most referenced in class are her at-home math love and her cats (I can attest to this by being in her class). 

Ms. Pugh adores her two cats, Micah and Mabel, and will happily talk to you about them and show you pictures of their adventures. They truly are the cutest, as I’m sure you’ve seen if you’ve ever been in one of her classes. 

Besides the cats, she talks about how she does math at home in her free time. “I have always loved math, especially once I took calc,” she says.  “I love that math is fun while also teaching you how to solve problems critically in the world.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Pugh will not remain at Lovett much longer. This is her last year, and she will be moving up to New York City in June. “I cannot wait 53 days,” she says before asking Siri to make sure she had it right (and she did). “It’s going to be so much fun. I’m most excited for when Broadway opens up, and delicious food.”

Everyone is rooting for Ms. Pugh, and knows she will do great in her future. As her year comes to the end, so does her advisory, “I’m really excited to see the seniors go on to their next phase. My advisory is seniors, and it feels like the culmination of everything. I started and ended with them. It feels like I’m graduating with y’all.”

It has been quite the year, and though I’m excited for it to be over and done, I’m sure Ms. Pugh is ready to head up to the Big Apple as well. Maybe some Lovett seniors attending college there will be just down the road from her. 

What she won’t be leaving behind is her love for math. In the Big Apple, she’s “hoping to transition [her] math skills into a business role to analyze data and provide meaningful information from numbers,” she says. 

Then As she laughs and adds on, “Most people get a job and then move to NYC for that job. I’m doing the opposite. I’m moving and going 'does anyone want to hire me’. So fingers crossed.”

“Fingers crossed?” Sounds like the opposite of rationalism. It’s an unlikely answer for a math teacher, but one that should make for an exciting new future for Ms. Pugh.

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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