Posted By: Lyn Le Countryman
One day, while reading the job announcements in the Des Moines Register, my husband said to me, “There is a science job at the Lab School. You should apply.” I was just finishing graduate work on my doctorate and I had planned to stay home with my young daughters. I replied, “Where is the lab school?” Bob, having graduated from UNI with two degrees had spent time down at the lab school and he talked me into applying. After interviewing with Dr. Jody Stone and the science department and then principal, Jim Kelly, I was offered a temporary position in science for a year. I taught 7th grade science and team taught 8th grade & chemistry with Dr. Stone. It was 1990 and that was the beginning of my love affair with education as it was done at Malcolm Price Lab School. It was the first school where I was treated as a professional, where I was challenged to innovate, to create and to collaborate with stimulating colleagues. It was stimulating to be in the science department. We were always talking about how to improve our pedagogy in order to engage learners in DOING science. Jim Kelly told me in my initial interview that I would never work harder as a teacher that here at the lab school. At the time, I thought he was crazy, because I had been teaching 6 periods out a seven period day with 5 different science preps. All I can say is that HE was SO RIGHT! I never worked harder than I did at the Lab School. We weren’t only teaching our prek-12 students but we had the responsibility to help train the teachers of tomorrow.
After teaching one year I at MPLS, I interviewed for a tenure/track position in science and began my 21 year career at MPLS. My family moved into the Lab School District and both of my daughters began attending MPLS. This was special because I could go down and see them in classes and they would stay after and play school, while I was still working. They went to junior high and later middle school dances, watched basketball games and stage productions, seeing all the older kids as models for what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” Their first production was WIZARD of OZ with Julie LaMendola singing, “Some where OVER THE RAINBOW.” My girls were hooked! Some of my “special” NU moments came with the work I did with set design, lights and tech crews for NU productions. I became involved because my girls were involved and because the new director, Jolene Tagtow, was looking for help and I volunteered. Working with kids of all ages building sets, painting, repairing lights and lighting productions are some of my fondest memories.
I must say that the last two years, where I had the opportunity to be the Director of Malcolm Price Lab School – Iowa’s Research and Development School were the most rewarding years I spent at the Lab School. Working with such an outstanding faculty and staff and with such fantastic parents and students was amazing. Even in the midst of the closure, faculty cared for students, students cherished each other and put their heart into their schoolwork, and parents surrounded us all. This is what the LAB school instilled in all, to persevere, and believe in yourself and your capabilities. We encouraged students to dream and ACHIEVE!