Doug Clark Tribute

Doug Clark has been a part of Hackley for just over four decades. He met his wife Carrie when she joined the faculty as a new French teacher. They were married in King Chapel, and they lived on campus for four years in Doug’s apartment that is now part of Girls’ Boarding. Doug and Carrie raised two sons: Josh, class of ’15, and Jack, class of ’17. Hackley has been part of Doug’s life just as he has been a part of Hackley.

By Anne Siviglia, English Teacher
Doug has been a part of my life for more than three decades. We share a love of crossword puzzles and the New York Times Bee, (though Doug’s abilities far surpass mine), a love of clever funny movies like “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Blazing Saddles,” and a love of knowing stuff. As he is for many people, Doug is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He has an unwavering moral compass, a laser-sharp sense of humor and of irony, and a love of learning that continues to grow stronger with time. For more than a decade, Doug has been my walking buddy. We share a desire to keep age at bay with our mantra “Keep moving,” which he reinforced for me with his gift of a Fitbit. When COVID-19 kept us physically apart, we found we could still walk together using our phones and AirPods. This has been a blessing for me, because I no longer have to struggle to keep up with him and he no longer has to struggle to slow down with me. Though I can’t keep up with his average of 30,000 steps a day (yes, that’s not a typo), it does, as he does, inspire me to “Keep moving.” For that, the gift of his friendship, and so much more, I am grateful for Doug Clark.

As a colleague, a coach, a department chair, and probably most of all as a master teacher, Doug’s legacy is the positive impact he has had on literally thousands of lives. Below are some very brief glimpses of what Doug has meant to Hackley.

By Jack Clark ’17 
It always felt special being a “faculty kid.” My teachers always knew who Mr. Clark was. I took great pride in being able to walk up to them with a big grin as if I were holding the greatest secret in and say, “Do you know Mr. Clark? That’s my dad.” I used to love going into my dad’s office when I was younger. I would look at all the math I couldn’t yet understand. I would look at what he kept on his desk: letters, stuffed animals, candy. He had pictures of my brother and me. What I loved to look at most often were the things people had to say about my dad and what my dad deemed worthy of taking up space on his desk. I wanted to know what he wanted to look at every day as he graded or read or relaxed. All around there were notes from his students. Everywhere. Thanking him, quoting him, or just expressing their enjoyment of his classes. And that’s what he keeps on his desk and walls. Not a picture of Isaac Newton or books on Euler. Sure, math is fun (he would say) but it really seemed like what my father cared about most was his students.

All around the house growing up I heard, “It’s good to know stuff,” “Do you want the spaceship to explode,” or “D’oh!” As I looked at his students’ kind messages, I noticed they had heard those sayings too and loved them enough to remember and give them back to him. He treats his students like his family. To whomever he is speaking, Mr. Clark wants to send the same message, and it makes no difference that that message is wrapped up in math: Think critically and continue learning and you can do tremendous good. I cannot imagine all the lives he has influenced and students he has inspired over 41 years of teaching at Hackley.

Thank you for everything you have done for all of us. 

By Josh Clark ’15
My most vivid memory of being in class with my dad is slightly embarrassing, but it demonstrates the kind of teacher he was. 

I raised my hand to answer a question and I got it wrong, to which my dad replied, “No dinner for you tonight!”
Sounds harsh, but he said it in typical Mr. Clark fashion—with a smile on his face— and it got some laughs, including one from me. 

He knew how to make calculus more fun than it already is.

By Diana Kaplan, Head of the Math Department
After Doug Clark’s being at Hackley for 41 years, I think it is natural to refer to him as a legendary teacher. However, Doug is a legend not because of the longevity of his tenure but rather for the deep impact he has had on thousands of students. He is truly a master teacher, and his deep knowledge of his subject allows him to model the elegance of the mathematics that he teaches. Given the serious nature of the courses that he teaches, what is most surprising is how much fun he injects into his classes. Students are told that it is “good to know stuff,” and they know to expect “70 minutes of fun” for the long teaching block; his classes always live up to that billing. And speaking of his line “it’s good to know stuff,” he certainly embodies that statement. He is one of the smartest people that I have ever met and his knowledge goes beyond just mathematics. It is aggravating when I can barely complete the New York Times Friday puzzle, and Doug no longer does it in pen but just completes it in his head!

Doug’s influence extends beyond his students to the faculty and community as a whole. He was the first person that I met when I came to Hackley right out of graduate school. Doug was my department head and mentor, and he taught me so much about teaching mathematics. I would not be the teacher I am today without Doug’s guidance at the beginning of my career. We walk together almost every day (although I can never come close to his step count!) and even after all of these years I still learn things about teaching math from him. With Doug’s retirement, Hackley will definitely feel the void because he has been such an integral part of the community for over four decades. As happy as I am for him, I am really going to miss him on the Hilltop as a colleague, mentor, and most importantly a close friend.

By Joan Fox, Former Math Teacher
On a beautiful spring day in April 1995, I interviewed for a math teacher position at Hackley. First thing in the morning I met with Jed Dioguardi whose older son had been born the night before. We met in the middle school office and spoke for about an hour. Following this I met with Phil Variano in his office. He took me on tour of faculty apartments. In the afternoon I met with Doug Clark in the Lindsay Room. I remember it as if it were yesterday. We sat at one of the huge round tables. The sun shone through the tall windows reflecting the dust particles as they danced around us. We spoke at length about mathematics and teaching mathematics, its inherent beauty, the idea of teaching it for itself, not especially for any use other than to revel in its beauty. I was sold on Hackley because of Doug Clark. I took the job and it changed my life forever. Thank you, Doug.

Over the years I came to appreciate him as a leader, teacher, friend. Diana Kaplan, Rob Gutheil ’90 , Doug and I played bridge for a few years at Doug’s lovely home. Rob and Doug were partners. Doug remembered EVERY card that was played and they usually won.

In 2004, on the morning after the Red Sox won the World Series, we met, along with the other two Red Sox fans, in the dining room for a group hug. We had been waiting our whole lives for that moment. 

Now he moves ahead to new adventures. It makes me sad because our legendary teacher will no longer reign in the classroom. Legions of students will never forget him. And neither will I. Thank you, Doug.

By Tim Kubarych ’06
Is the classroom a competition? With limited spots at selective colleges in the then looming college admission process, it certainly seemed that way. When we walked into Mr. Clark’s AP Calculus class and sat down for what sounded like an intimidating final math class of high school, this perception was quickly put to rest. Mr. Clark insisted that each of us was capable of and expected to earn a ‘5’ on the AP exam at year-end. He noted past examples of unanimous classwide perfect scores, why should our group be any different? There was no room to be the best in the Calc class, because all of us would succeed. It was time to get to work. 

One other thing struck me from that class that resonates many years later. When answering a question, Mr. Clark insisted that we find a solution, not the solution to the problem. While textbooks showed the ‘right approach’ that actually obfuscated the mathematical reality that there are usually many different approaches to arrive at the right answer. After Mr. Clark’s class, majoring in Mathematics in college seemed only natural to me. There are many ways to find the right answer, but I cannot help but believe that Mr. Clark’s learning methods equipped me to find them.