Back on the Bank: Solving Problems with Mr. Butler, The Mathman

Keya Nijhawan

Most people I know get excited about new shoes or a new TV show, but not The Mathman, who likes to wear shoes inscribed with geometric problems. 

A new school year, same old masks. I haven’t seen many smiles, but with the new math teacher Mr. Butler you can tell he’s smiling from his eyes. 

As soon as I walked into Mr. Butler’s room I learned my first lesson: do not call him Mr. Butler, because he is The Mathman. The name originates from his granddaughter, who has decided for all of us that Mr. Butler is incredibly good at math. Math may be the subject that most students despise, but The Mathman's goal is to spread his love for the subject to others.

Because he is a new member of the Lovett faculty, you might imagine there would be some initial struggles adjusting to his new environment. Not for The Mathman.  As he explained, when you are so passionate about something it is easy to do what you love most. His lively attitude has greatly helped him in finding a happy home at Lovett.

And this attitude has also helped his students. As soon as one steps in his classroom the energy level is stimulating. Whether your day has been good or bad, The Mathman will not fail to brighten your day. 

But even The Mathman can get bummed out. When I asked him about his summer, I couldn't help but notice a sudden change in the enthusiasm of his answer. “We normally like to take at least one big trip,” he said, “but this summer it was not possible.” 

Wanting to know more, I asked what a normal summer would look like for him. With the sound of longing in his voice, he said he would go on a big trip. So while this summer’s jaunt to Destin, Florida was fun, it was a place he’d already been, and didn’t give the feeling of seeing something new.  Fortunately, there’s always the joy of a new math problem. 

Never in my life did I ever think I would see someone so excited about math, let alone a math problem. Most people I know get excited about new shoes or a new TV show, but not The Mathman, who likes to wear shoes inscribed with geometric problems. 

How does one get so excited about a subject? For many it's the influence of a certain person at a young age. Not for The Mathman though. He always knew math was the one for him. Never before have I heard about a school subject being “The one.” He even solves math problems for fun over the summer.

The Mathman is a person who can make a difficult subject seem interesting even after one returns to school from a fun-filled summer break. His passion seems to be contagious. 

I wondered aloud what his reaction would be to a student who absolutely hated math. “Give me a semester,” he said. “Let's see if you really understand what math is. Once they understand what math is then it's not so bad.”


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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