by CARA CAVANAUGH '21
For over 20 years, math teacher Ms. Depoe has been a constant, well-known figure on SUA’s staff. No student can attend our school for long without hearing of, or experiencing, Ms. Depoe’s famous ‘algerobics’ (math-based aerobics) or her infamous tests. But Ms. Depoe is a lot more than just her impressive teaching record: she’s a mother, soup kitchen worker, feminist, and an all-around awesome person.
Ms. Depoe was born in Dayton, Ohio, and lived there for most of her childhood before moving Kansas for high school and college. It was there that she found her love for teaching, specifically math, as she recalled that “I first decided that I wanted to be a teacher in my sophomore year when I was the only person in my geometry class who knew what was going on so I had to teach our homework to everyone. I just really enjoyed that and decided then and there that I wanted to do it as a career.”
Ms. Depoe then went on to go to college in Kansas where she majored in mathematics. When asked if she had received any pushback for being a woman in a mostly male-dominated career at the time she replied, “I always felt very supported and encouraged. My college was an all-girls school so all of my peers were in the same boat. As for adults, my father was an engineer so he always wanted me to do my best in school and he expected me to do just as well as the boys if not better.”
She went on to say that “encouraging and inspiring women to be in STEM fields is incredibly important, and it’s one of my goals here at Saint Ursula. I want to see my students achieve great things and I don’t think their gender should affect that.”
Ms. Depoe says she herself was inspired by one of her college professors. “He was my math teacher for a couple of my courses and he had a really engaging, interactive teaching style that I try to emulate even to this day. I also use some of his techniques like group white board problems, and encouraging my students to come in my classroom before school and during 5th bell for questions.”
When asked if she finds similar inspiration at SUA, Ms. Depoe says that she draws from her fellow teachers and staff frequently. She adds, “One of the main reasons I came to SUA was for the way that the employees are treated by other faculty and students. At some of my previous positions, I felt like I wasn’t respected and I didn’t have any control over what I taught; here I have a lot more freedoms, especially with my lesson plans.”
Her influence is clear to see on her students as well. Gracie Scheve ‘21 says that “Ms. Depoe’s class is one of [her] favorites because [she] always learns a lot and her teaching style is really straight-forward. Ms. Depoe’s also so smart it sometimes scares me!”
Maya Goertemoeller ‘20 agrees, saying that “Ms. Depoe is always approachable and I know that if I don’t understand something she will be more than happy to answer my questions.”
In all, Ms. Depoe’s teachings and well-rounded personality have had a lasting impression on SUA that will only continue to grow.