Dr. Pannapa Herabat has taught in the Deerfield math department for only a few years, but she has been a large part of the community for much longer. Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, her association with New England boarding schools dates back for some time. She attended Tabor Academy as a prestigious King’s Scholar and then attended Carnegie Mellon University, where she graduated with a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. Dr. Herabat then taught undergraduate and graduate students in Thailand before she took her skills, along with her son, Gunn Herabat ‘11, to Deerfield. She began tutoring Deerfield students in math in 2007, and in 2018 she began teaching math on campus full-time. Although Deerfield admits a King’s Scholar from Thailand every year, Dr. Herabat became the first King’s Scholar to teach at Deerfield. Dr. Herabat has helped students in various levels of math and has taught Honors Algebra II and AP Calculus BC in recent years.
Dr. Herabat has invested herself heavily in the math department on campus. Her incredible expertise in math and its applications in engineering meant she could have taught math beyond the scope of Deerfield’s courses, but she was always eager and happy to teach whatever course was needed, no matter its level. Sean Keller ’86, a veteran Deerfield math teacher, said that Dr. Herabat’s “combination of math, engineering, and boarding school experience made her really well-suited for DA.”
A smaller-scale contribution she has made to the Deerfield community has been what lies on her desk: a bowl of Lindt chocolates for the whole math department that is seemingly always full. While Dr. Herabat could certainly order these chocolates in bulk on Amazon, she makes the drive to purchase them at the Lindt outlet store an hour away in Lee, MA, as Mr. Keller learned. From Dr. Herabat’s years of tutoring students behind the scenes to small, thoughtful acts like these, she has done more for Deerfield than meets the eye.
Dr. Herabat has always done a great job of challenging students and preparing them for the next level of math. Connor Olson ‘22 said, “The class was definitely fast-paced, but she always checked on us individually to make sure the pace was right—even in the middle of class.”
Dr. Herabat was, without a doubt, a challenging teacher, but her students always benefitted from her classes. Her AP Calculus BC tests were notoriously difficult, but current BC student Oscar Depp ‘21 said that “she invests heavily in how much she wants you to learn,” adding that “she gave super individual feedback on tests and held two extra help sessions a week.” Depp is a two-time student of Dr. Herabat’s, and he also recalls that Dr. Herabat makes a point of saying hello to her former students whenever they encounter each other on the way to math class. At the end of the day, Dr. Herabat has always challenged her students because she really wants them to grow as mathematicians and as people.
Dr. Herabat has big plans for the future. She will live in Thailand and continue tutoring students from all over the world, but she has also begun writing her own SAT math prep book. Dr. Herabat is very grateful to have taught full-time at Deerfield. When asked to reflect on her time at Deerfield, she said “it was a much more nurturing experience than teaching at grad school.” She added, “I’m going to miss everybody!” as a smile spread across her face.
Inside the classroom and out, Dr. Herabat has been a truly valuable member of the Deerfield community and has impacted so many students and faculty here in positive ways. Dr. Herabat is currently in Thailand, and she will be missed by many at Deerfield. We thank you, Dr. Herabat, for all you’ve done for Deerfield’s community and wish you all the best in your future endeavors!