Pop in with Papp


Taylor Harrington, Breaking News Editor

After eight-and-a-half hours of sleep, math teacher Robert Papp hops out of bed just before the blare of his 5:00 a.m. alarm. Ready to start the day and see his students again, he’s one of the few genuinely excited on Monday mornings.

For many, the idea that teachers have lives outside of Staples is a foreign concept. But Papp was more than willing to spill the secrets of his daily routine to Inklings.

While his fiancé, Daphne, is still asleep, Papp tiptoes out of his room to meditate for 20 minutes. Inspired by the Providence Zen Center he’s visited, Papp channels his inner spirituality and then transitions to 40 minutes of yoga.

At 6:00 a.m., he quickly sips a fruit smoothie filled with protein powder and a scoop of almond butter before retreating back to his room to wake his fiancé with a cup of hot coffee.

Then the two part ways; she catches a train into Manhattan, while he makes his way to Staples, either tuning into NPR or humming to Sirius XM Radio’s ‘90s Alternative and Grunge Rock station.

After listening to songs from his high-school years and getting out of his warm car, Papp hikes up to the third floor to greet his officemates. He places his labeled manila folders on top of the corresponding shelves and thumbs through the day’s handouts to make sure everything goes smoothly. He’s ready for his day to begin.

Papp said his classes aren’t just filled with equations and derivatives; they include class conversations.

“I think that my job goes beyond just delivering math to students,” Papp said. He’s a strong believer in putting his desks in pods so that his students can converse and learn from each other.

Most of the time, these conversations are linked to math. “If there’s something in the lesson… that makes me think of a life anecdote that I think will shed some light on a situation… I will share it with my students,” Papp said. In fact, Papp has become known for telling students tidbits of inspiration and stories about his life right up until the last minute of the day.

However, when the final bell rings at 2:15, Papp is not ready to leave. He sticks around Staples for a few more hours.

“I’ve got this little end-of-day thing I do,” Papp said, pointing to his handy dandy to-do list posted next to his computer. It has five friendly reminders, including “Update Schoology” and “Enter class participation.”

For the next couple hours until about 5:00 p.m., Papp cranks out any work he has to do for the rest of the week, whether it’s making a test or correcting one from that day.

“I never do any homework at home,” Papp smiled. “When I leave here every day at 5:00 p.m., I have the whole next day set to go.”

This way, he’s able to enjoy his evening, whether it’s catching up with old friends over Facebook or diving into a new show on Netflix. Now that he and his fiancé have finished their favorite show, “House of Cards,”  they’re struggling to find something to top it.

With full stomachs from a dinner Papp whipped up, he and his fiancé submerse themselves in whatever book they’re currently reading together. Right now, it’s “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen.

“We’ll either read together,” Papp said, explaining how the two of them will take turns reading aloud in bed, “or we’ll just read on our own.”

But at 8:30, the lights are switched off until his day begins again with a smile and an hour of relaxation.