Beloved Calculus Teacher Shares Life Wisdom


Photo by: Olly Dungan

Calculus, computer science and statistics teacher, Mrs. Underhill, shares her remarkable story.

Olly Dungan, Student of Journalism

At her desk she sits, her colorful pens swishing across the tests she grades. The walls of her warm classroom are equally vibrant, peppered with hand-painted flowers and artistic relics of her former students.

She is Mrs. Diane Underhill, the beloved calculus, statistics and computer science teacher at NHS. Though she has been instructing students in complex math for 15 years, her story begins with a college adviser named Mr. Jim Sharp. 

“When I set foot in his door, he was someone who had a plan and a path. I wanted his job so desperately. I wanted to be him.”

In college, Mrs. Underhill knew her path toward to engineering, but Mr. Sharp opens the door to her first career: a chemical engineer at Exxon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Married life later moves Mrs. Underhill and her husband to Wisconsin, where she begins the next chapter of her life as a product developer. With eight patents to her name, Mrs. Underhill pioneered the production of hygiene products by engineering breathable plastic fabrics.

During her collaboration with production teams, she develops a new passion for market research, presenting her with a new career that fosters her love of statistics and traveling. 

After 12 years at Kimberly-Clark, Mrs. Underhill’s family dynamic called for a change. 

Her solution: pursuing her teaching certificate. 

“I just went for it!”

Through teaching, Underhill finds fulfillment in the personal element of her career. Interacting with and inspiring students allows her to forge meaningful, impressionable relationships. Through these relationships, she reciprocates the guidance given to her by Mr. Sharp: it’s never too late to find your passions. 

“I feel like what I do now is a combination of what he is, so ultimately I have fulfilled this original dream.”