Archive for the ‘fred giuffrida’ tag
Last evening, April 6, 2011, I attended a get together for friends and alumni of University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. There were people there that graduated from Lab in 1960. This was not a class specific gathering, so many years were represented among the approximately 75 guests. I was the only attendee from my class, sadly. The last time I attended one of these gatherings, my friend and classmate Harry Bims was there. Bims is a fellow tech entrepreneur, which gave us even more to talk about.
The venue for the event last evening was the elegant home of class of ’75 alum Pamela J. Joyner in San Francisco, California. Thank you to Joyner and her husband Fred Giuffrida for opening their home.
David W. Magill, the Director of Lab School, spent some time telling the group about the changes underway on campus. The most striking news is that since the University of Chicago is growing so rapidly, there are no longer enough spots at Lab School to accomodate the children of University professors.
University of Chicago recruits top professors by promising them that their kids can attend Lab School. Some children of new professors are now placed on the Lab School waiting list, which Magill said has not ingratiated him with the deans he has to deliver the bad news to. As a result, Lab School is physically increasing the size of its facilities. The University gave them an unused building close by the current Lab campus. This unused building is now being demolished. In its place will be a stunning early childhood campus for nursery school through 2nd grade students. The space on the primary campus now used for those students will be recaptured such that the primary campus will be able to accomodate increasing the high school class size by about 100 students. This will mean that all University affiliated students will be guaranteed a spot, which should make the department deans happy.
The Laboratory Schools contributed more to what I’ve accomplished in life than any other single contributor. I am grateful I am the son of a University of Chicago professor, which enabled me to attend the Lab Schools.
Magill and I talked at length. I had met him at the last such gathering I attended, about 6 years ago. I was pleased to learn from Magill that middle school students are taught cooking and must know how to cook a meal before they can graduate from 8th grade. This was not a requirement when I was a student there. The only hard requirement was that we all had to know how to swim.
When I heard there is no more general shop class, Magill said it was impossible to find a suitable replacement teacher after the long time teacher retired, so they abandoned the program. I expressed my extreme unhappiness about this sad condition. He said they have plans to add wood shop, which is a great start. But I remember vividly using a sheet metal brake to bend sheet metal into a tool box, which I still use. That’s not part of what I consider wood shop, but it was an important part of my education. The sheet metal brake had a material width capacity of 8 feet — something noteworthy to me now because the brake at TechShop can only accommodate 4 foot wide material, and I need a brake to bend 5 foot wide material, since my RTS bus conversion is built in 5 foot wide modules. It’s been a while since I was in middle school, but I can remember that sheet metal brake like I saw it last month.
Had I not had experience with quite a few different wood and metal working tools in middle school, I doubt I would now be a member of TechShop. I doubt I would have complete confidence I can create a super green bus conversion. I doubt I would be considering starting a green housing venture.
Teaching students to cook and to build things are critcial skills, and I hope Lab School expands its teaching in these areas as quickly as practical given its many other priorities.
Finally, I was fortunate to meet Beth Wittbrodt, Director of the Lab+ Campaign. The Lab+ Campaign is raising money for the early childhood campus that will allow the entire school to expand in size. Wittbrodt sought my opinion about how to reach out to alumni most effectively. I gave her my best thinking on the subject, and I found her to be quite impressive and thoughtful. Her first job after school was to personally author 1/3rd of an almanac several inches thick published by one of the most well known publishers in the country. She was 26.