Posted By: Len & Gail Froyen
College students, social science instructor, student teacher, guidance counselor, librarian parents of students, and parents of tennis coach--the association of Dr. Len and Gail Annable Froyen with the Lab School was long and varied. It began in 1953 during the construction phase of the building at the corner of 19th and Campus Streets. Len Froyen, then a student at Iowa State Teachers College, spent time observing and participating in the Lab School housed in Sabin Hall and then moved to the Malcolm Price Laboratory School during the 1954-55, its first year of use.
Romance blossomed between Froyen and a freshman coed, Gail Annable. After their marriage in June of1958 and a summer at Michigan State when he completed his MA in guidance and counseling, Froyen called Dr. Raymond Schlicher, head of the Placement Bureau about open social studies teaching. It was late July and Dr. Paul Brimm, principal of the high school, TCHS, had just left Schlicher’s office. One of the social studies faculty had just resigned. Len began his teaching career at MPLS and felt as if he had been thrown into the ocean to learn how to swim. Between the young students in World History, the faculty, and Dr. Brimm, Froyen’s college training, his imagination, and energy came together to provide the students – high school and college – excellent experiences in the subject matter and pedagogy.
Gail began her student teaching experience in the MPLS library under Joan Englund and Howard VanderBeek teaching 10th grade English. The students were very interested in the Froyen’s, a young married couple, especially since they were expecting their first child. In May of 1959 the 10th grade class presented Mr. Froyen with a stroller as a baby gift. This stroller and the baby boy who was its first passenger are still topics of conversation during reunions of the class of 1961.
Our first experiences with the lab school were so positive that when it came time to purchase our first house, we definitely wanted to be in the Lab School District. We were fortunate and lived one block from the school during our children’s elementary school days and within three blocks for their junior high/high school years.
The educations, academic, extra-curricular, and social, our children received gave them a breadth and depth of experience and growth that I do not believe could have been matched elsewhere. Our children, Scott, Barbara, and Brett participated in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities throughout their school years. Sports included tennis, basketball, the first cross-country team, and track. Their musical interests included band, Jazz band, orchestra, and chorus. Madrigal Dinners, a variety of school musicals, and plays – both on stage and behind the scenes brought our family knowledge of Purgatory and its treasures. No matter what was going on, as parents we knew the faculty and staff were always teaching with the best interest of the students in mind.
The family atmosphere at MPLS/NUHS was enhanced through homeroom meetings and parent-teacher conferences. These activities helped Len and Gail grow in appreciation for the faculty and other parents. Perhaps the lens of community is another way look at the web of relationships spun between and among all participants in the lab school experience. The relationships, goals and aims were mostly positive with those occasional family squabbles that pop up from time to time. The concerned parties worked through those events with strength, collaboration, and incentive to grow.
Social Studies and Guidance and Counseling