Upper School Courses

Academic Departments

Mathematics and Computer Science

Mathematics and the mathematical patterns found throughout our surroundings offer us a powerful and beautiful way of viewing the world. The St. Stephen’s Mathematics Department seeks to enable students to recognize and assimilate mathematical relationships and use them to make predictions and draw conclusions. The department’s objectives are to:

  • Stimulate curiosity about the application of mathematics in the world around us;
  • Foster independent, creative, and critical thinking in a cooperative learning environment;
  • Develop students’ ability to persevere in the face of difficulty;
  • Encourage articulate communication of ideas in oral and written form;
  • Promote the use of technology in the learning of mathematics; and
  • Cultivate solid foundational skills necessary for complex mathematical analysis.

The curriculum serves students with varying abilities, enabling them to gain confidence in and expand their mathematical skills and to become effective problem solvers and communicators of mathematical ideas. Students develop logical reasoning and critical analysis skills and an appreciation for the beauty and unified structure of mathematics. 

Students are required to complete three mathematics credits and take math through their junior year.  

Advanced sections cover the subject in greater depth and breadth and are designated as such on students’ transcripts. Admission to and retention in an advanced course is by departmental approval and may require confirmation of ability by a placement examination.
 
  • Algebra I

    Algebra I integrates knowledge of variables and their use with concepts and operations of arithmetic in a formal, logical development of elementary algebra. Accuracy and precision are essential components of instruction, as is the development of problem-solving strategies. The content of the course includes an in-depth study of linear equations and inequalities, graphing, operations with polynomials, factoring, rational expressions and equations, introduction to functions, radical expressions and equations, and the quadratic formula. Word problems and applications of increasing complexity are addressed throughout the course. 
  • Geometry

    Students are introduced to traditional plane and solid Euclidean geometry as well as coordinate geometry, constructions, and transformational geometry. Both independent problem-solving and cooperative group work are elements used in the investigation of geometric truths. Students learn theory and application, formal and informal proofs, and symbolic and visual approaches to problems. The course provides a firm foundation in understanding the relationships between and within geometric figures, and it develops the skills to reason effectively. Computer-assisted explorations, as well as compass and straightedge constructions, are part of the course throughout the year as they relate to the topics covered. The course helps to prepare students for the challenges of higher-level mathematics. 

    Prerequisite: Algebra I.
    1 credit
     
  • Adv Geometry

    Advanced Geometry is intended for those students who have well-developed spatial and abstract reasoning skills. In addition to the topics presented in Geometry, this course includes a more formal emphasis on deductive logic and proof. Proofs using deductive or indirect reasoning, paragraph or two-column form, and construction are utilized to enhance logical thinking and creative problem-solving. Inductive discovery of principles is facilitated by the use of the computer, models, and experimentation. Special projects heighten students’ appreciation for the application of geometry to the real world, the historical significance of the subject, and recent discoveries in mathematics. 

    Prerequisite: V- or higher in Advanced Algebra I or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
  • Algebra II

    Algebra II builds on the concepts and skills mastered in Algebra I and expands these ideas with further applications and more challenging problem-solving. It also utilizes technology, primarily in the form of graphing calculators, as a tool for opening doors to new approaches. In addition to the topics introduced in Algebra I, Algebra II includes the study of irrational and complex numbers, polynomial equations, exponential and logarithmic functions, analytic geometry, trigonometry, data analysis, and probability. The course provides a firm foundation in the language and application of algebra and in the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in higher levels of mathematics. 

    Prerequisite: Geometry. 
    1 credit
     
  • Adv Algebra II

    A rigorous course that prepares students for successful transition into Advanced Precalculus, Advanced Algebra II enables them to master advanced algebraic concepts and skills, think independently, and utilize appropriate methods of problem-solving. The course covers topics from Algebra II as well as data analysis, combinatorics, probability, and a more in-depth study of trigonometry. Those topics that are covered in Algebra II are studied in greater depth and scope, with special emphasis on critical thinking and application of concepts. 

    Prerequisite:
    V- or higher in Advanced Geometry or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
     
  • Precalculus

    Precalculus provides students with a firm foundation in the theory and use of functions and their graphs. Each type of function addressed, including polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric, is explored algebraically, graphically, and geometrically. Other topics include analytic geometry, complex numbers, data analysis, probability, and sequences and series. Graphing calculators and graphing software are used extensively to enable students to make subtle connections between topics within the course. 

    Prerequisite:
    G- or higher in Algebra II or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
     
  • Adv Precalculus

    Advanced Precalculus is a more rigorous examination of those topics essential to the study of calculus. Major topics include the study of advanced graphing, functional analysis, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric functions and their applications, analytic geometry, sequences and series, data analysis, combinatorics and probability, matrices, polar and parametric functions, and polar representation of complex numbers. An introduction to calculus at the end of the course includes limits, continuity, and the development of instantaneous rates of change. Emphasis is on conceptual understanding and real-world applications. 

    Prerequisite
    :
    V- or higher in Advanced Algebra II or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
     
  • Calculus

    Calculus is designed to prepare students for a college-level calculus course, with an emphasis on process and applications rather than on theory. The topics include a Precalculus review, functions and their graphs, limits, derivatives and applications, integration, and the calculus of exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. 

    Prerequisite: G- or higher in Precalculus or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
  • Adv Calculus AB

    Advanced Calculus AB is a standard college-level course in the calculus of one variable. Emphasis is not only on a clear understanding of the concepts, but also on their applicability in real-world situations. Major topics include limits, continuity, derivatives and applications, integrals and applications, transcendental functions, and first-order differential equations. Mastery and retention of Advanced Precalculus topics are assumed.  

    Prerequisite:
    V- or higher in Advanced Precalculus or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
     
  • Adv Calculus BC

    Advanced Calculus BC is a rigorous, in-depth study of the calculus of one variable. In addition to the topics presented in the Advanced Calculus AB course, this course includes topics such as infinite series, Taylor polynomials, parametrically defined functions, and polar coordinates. Mastery and retention of Advanced Precalculus topics are assumed. 

    Prerequisite:
    departmental approval. 
    1 credit
  • Multivariable Analysis

    Students are introduced to further mathematical applications of calculus, as well as other topics in advanced mathematics. Topics include advanced techniques of integration; three-dimensional analytic geometry; vectors and vector-valued functions; multivariable and vector calculus, including multiple and line integrals; and the theorems of Green and Stokes. 

    Prerequisite: departmental approval. 
    1 credit
  • Stats and Selected Topics

    This course offers students an alternative in the mathematics they choose to pursue beyond the level of second-year algebra. Approximately half the year is spent introducing students to the core concepts of statistics, while the remainder of the year is spent exploring the applications of mathematics in diverse contexts, including career and daily life. Throughout the course, students focus on the mathematical techniques of problem-solving and analysis that foster habits of effective thinking in life outside the classroom. Topics may include some or all of the following: networks, graphs, and critical paths; fractal geometry; non-Euclidean geometry; topology; logic, binary arithmetic, digital logic, encoding and the mathematics of computers; number theory; and personal finance and avenues of investment.

    Prerequisites:
    Algebra II and 12th-grade students only. 
    1 credit
  • Adv Statistics

    This activity-based course provides students with a rigorous, in-depth study of the fundamental concepts and techniques employed when working with data. The course exposes students to four broad conceptual themes: exploratory analysis, planning a study, modeling using probability and simulation, and testing hypotheses using statistical inference. Technology plays a major role in the course. Statistical computer software is used, and students learn to use the Internet as part of the statistical research process. Motivated students who have completed Algebra II should consider taking Advanced Statistics as an alternative or supplement to Precalculus and/or Calculus. 

    Prerequisite:
    Algebra II. Preference will be given to 12th-grade students. 
    1 credit 
  • Introduction to Computer Science

    Introduction to Computer Science exposes students to computer programming through structured programming and object-oriented programming paradigms. The course assumes no prior programming experience and begins with a “boot camp” in which students learn the basic elements of computer programming (algorithms, variables, arrays, functions, iteration, and conditional statements) and practice the use of those structures by writing short console applications. The course expands into a broader examination of efficiency, concision, objects, APIs, and data structures, with many short assignments to cement understanding of new concepts and with opportunities for students to create computer games with graphics and other graphical projects. Emphasis is given to hands-on learning with an effort to minimize lecture.  Students will develop the ability to think like a programmer and interpret a problem or goal in a way that the problem or goal can be modeled with software components. The course prepares students for the Advanced Computer Science course.

    Prerequisite: Geometry. 
    1 credit 
  • Adv Computer Science

    Students continue the study of computer science topics primarily in the Java programming language. Topics in this course include the design of solutions to problems, the use of advanced algorithms and data structures, and the analysis of code through case studies. Students will primarily use an Object Oriented design that will require utilization of boxing, data encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. The course will conclude with an individual student-driven study of a topic agreed upon by both student and instructor.  

    Prerequisite:
    V- or higher in Introduction to Computer Science or departmental approval. 
    1 credit
  • App Development

    Students will learn to design and develop mobile apps for multiple platforms, starting with Bubble web platform and moving to Xamarin in Visual Studio using C#. Students will be expected to consider development, design, and entrepreneurship when working collaboratively to create their app. Throughout the year, they will use design thinking to create human-centered app solutions that meet a need in their communities.

    Prerequisite:
    Algebra I is preferred, but not required.
    1 credit
  • Ind Study Adv Math

    Students who have completed Multivariable Analysis before the 12th-grade year may work with a faculty member to complete a course of study in advanced topics, such as differential equations, linear algebra, abstract algebra, or topology. 

    Prerequisite
    :
    departmental approval.
    1 credit

Upper School Faculty

  • Photo of Laurel Eskridge
    Laurel Eskridge
    Mathematics Dept. Chair
    University of Memphis - M.S.
    Millsaps College - B.A.
    Towner Endowed Teaching Chair, 2014
  • Photo of Latryce Cole
    Latryce Cole
    Mathematics Instructor
    Auburn University - Ph.D.
    Auburn University - MS
    Spelman College - BS
  • Photo of Christopher Colvin
    Christopher Colvin
    Mathematics & History Instructor
    University of Texas at Austin - Ph.D.
    Northwestern University - M.A. (Philosophy)
    Northwestern University - M.A. (Classics)
    Yale University - B.A.
  • Photo of Kimberly Garey
    Kimberly Garey
    Head of Upper School
    Holy Cross - B.A.
  • Photo of Rebecca Gibbs
    Rebecca Gibbs
    Mathematics Instructor
    University of Michigan - B.A.
  • Photo of Daniel Laws
    Daniel Laws
    Director of Technology, Computer Science Instructor
    University of Texas at Austin - B.A.
  • Photo of Kimberly Meyer
    Kimberly Meyer
    Mathematics Instructor
    University of Texas at Austin - B. S.
  • Photo of Katherine Neidhart
    Katherine Neidhart
    Mathematics Instructor
    University of Texas at Arlington - M.Ed.
    University of Texas at San Antonio - B.S.
  • Photo of Michael Oberle
    Michael Oberle
    Mathematics Instructor
    Yale University - M.S.
    Oklahoma State University - B.S.
  • Photo of Kurt Oehler
    Kurt Oehler
    Teacher
    Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M.
    Rice University - B.S.
  • Photo of Dhvani Sethi
    Dhvani Sethi
    Mathematics Instructor
    University of Illinois - M.S.
    University of Illinois - B.A.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213