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20 Questions with Theo Paul, Math Teacher

Theo Paul has always loved math and making things. A legendary Commonwealth biker (foot-powered—for now), he’s even been known to make his own bicycles. Whether on the trail, leading a math classroom, or acting as our Hancock “Czar,” Mr. Paul brings an energy to his work that is—to borrow his “most overused” word—awesome.

1. What three words best describe Commonwealth? 

Joy in learning. 

2. What does your ideal afternoon entail?

Riding my bike on an endless trail through the woods.

3. If you could teach any class aside from your own, what would it be?

Printmaking. 

4. Whom do you most admire?

Katherine Johnson. 

5. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

Awesome. 

6. When and how did you first become interested in math?

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve loved math and making things. 

7. What is your favorite aspect of your work?

Sharing the things I love with teenagers. 

8. How do you define success in your classes?

A student saying, “Oh wow! That’s so cool.”

9. What are people surprised to learn about you?

That I majored in aerospace engineering. 

10. Coffee or tea?

Bourbon. Just kidding. Decaf. 

11. Scripted or improvised?

Scripted so well as to appear improvised.

12. Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

Winter into spring—can ski and bike. 

13. What is your favorite museum?

Museum of Natural History in New York City.

14. What is your favorite mode of transportation?

Bike. Maybe, if I’m lucky, it will become a motorcycle. 

15. What do you bring to a potluck?

Fruit pie. 

16. What is your go-to Boston eatery?

Purple Cactus multiple times a week, but Toro for celebrating all major life milestones. 

17. If you could live as a local for 48 hours anywhere in the world, where would you go? 

Flanders, so I could ride the routes of the spring classics. 

18. If you could join any past or current music group, which would you want to join?

The Butchies or Blondie, tough choice. 

19. What is the theme song of your life?

“Smalltown Boy,” “Bronski Beat,” or “Welcome to My Life,” by Melissa Ferrick; depends on the mood. 

20. What is the best gift you have ever received?

A Rotring compass set when I began mechanical drafting in high school. 

Bonus: What is your most treasured possession?

My Seven Cycles single speed—first bike I made for myself while working there as a “finisher” in college. 

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