Meet Math Teacher Caroline Darling ’10
BY JACQUELINE PRIMO LEMMON
Though she grew up at St. Paul’s School and graduated as a member of the Form of 2010, math teacher Caroline Darling says she couldn’t have guessed she would one day return as a faculty member. In fact, teaching wasn’t on her radar at all. “When I graduated from here, I wanted to go into medical research,” says Darling, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in the college of engineering and a minor in applied mathematics at Lehigh University. Between her junior and senior years of college, however, she served as a teaching intern in an artificial intelligence class at the School’s summer Advanced Studies Program, working with longtime SPS Computer Science Teacher Terry Wardrop ’73.
“It was fun to watch the students get excited as they completed the various tasks and got their programs to work as intended,” Darling says of her internship. “Then I went back to college and was in the lab 20 hours a week my senior year. … I remember calling my parents to say, ‘So about this engineering degree … I want to go into education now.’”
Following her graduation from Lehigh, Darling gained teaching experience at two private high schools and started working toward her master’s degree in mathematics for teaching at Harvard Extension School. It was then that a friend reached out to her. “The School was looking for a programming and statistics teacher, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in coming home, and I jumped at the opportunity to return to SPS,” Darling says. She was hired by the School in 2019, balancing her full-time teaching duties with the completion of her master’s, which she earned in 2022.
This fall, the start of her fifth year as a member of the SPS faculty, Darling is teaching computer programming, statistics and two honors sections of precalculus. Ironically, she says, statistics was her least favorite class in college, but it’s her favorite class to teach at SPS — because, she says, she learned all the ways not to teach it. “A lot of it is making sure that I’m writing assessments to reflect what I’ve taught, not to assess how they can piece together things on their own,” she says.
In addition to teaching, Darling coaches girls JV soccer and serves as head of house for Conover 20 — the dorm where she spent two years as an SPS student, was a prefect her Sixth Form year and now lives with her husband, Luke, and their 1-year-old daughter, Samantha. She also lives just down the road from her parents, fellow SPS Math Teacher Scott Heitmiller ’81, P’10,’12,’15 and SPS Director of Advancement Diane Heitmiller P’10,’12,’15, and says the proximity to her parents is one of the gifts of returning to SPS. Her classroom in the Lindsay Center for Mathematics and Science is directly beneath her father’s, and the duo even coached a season of soccer together. (“It was the best season, hands-down,” she says.)
As she welcomes students into her classroom for precalculus, they greet her with smiles just as warm as her own. Her enthusiasm and love for her students is palpable.
“Saturday night, we did a murder mystery,” Darling says of an in-house bonding activity she led for the girls in Con20. “They all came completely dressed up in character, and it was so much fun because they made it so much fun. And it’s fun for me.”
“All I’ve known is boarding school since I was 4,” she adds. “It’s funny, when I think of home — I know a lot of people will think of a childhood house or a childhood bedroom. I have this campus.”